Habitat hires for Port Hadlock project

Two firms needed for housing effort

PORT HADLOCK — Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County has announced the hiring of two firms to help them move into the next stages of their planned community in Port Hadlock, where the group homes to build more than 100 affordable homes.

“We’ve been talking about 140-70 homes,” said Jamie Maciejewski, Habitat’s executive director. “And that will include apartments, townhomes, duplexes, cottages housing; all the varieties of housing.”

Habitat EJC is hoping to create an entirely new neighborhood in the Port Hadlock area in hopes of addressing the region’s severe lack of housing, particularly for low- and middle-income workers.

The group recently announced contracts with Cap Ex Advisory Group of Baltimore, Md., for financial and strategic planning and Seattle’s Schemata Workshop for architectural work.

“Because this is such a large project, way larger than anything we’ve done, we really need people who have done large projects,” Maciejewski said.

Cap Ex will assist with things like permit applications, builder selection and loan financing, Maciejewski said, while Schemata will help with determining the layout of the neighborhood, how many units of each type and drafting the project’s master plan.

Maciejewski declined to say how much the two firms were hired for, citing private information, but said Habitat’s Board of Directors selected the firms through a competitive process.

A preliminary site plan with a proposed basic layout for the community should be completed by Jan. 18.

“One of the things that was really striking is how immediate the need is for this project,” said Ellen Malmon, architect and project manager with Schemata, during a Tuesday community meeting in Port Hadlock.

Malmon said Schemata would work to preserve as much of the natural environment and accessibility of the site as possible.

The key to Habitat’s homes is the installation of a $35 million sewer project, which started construction in July after being in the works for more than 20 years. The project is being built by Jefferson County and is funded through a combination of state and federal funding, grants and loans.

Construction of the sewer is scheduled to be completed before the end of 2025.

With the sewer extension, zoning rules will allow higher density at the 17-acre former airstrip next to the Jefferson County Library and Chimacum Creek Primary School that Habitat purchased in 2022.

Habitat will construct about a third of the homes, Maciejewski said, and offer them to tenants who meet the organization’s criteria for housing. The rest of the housing Habitat hopes to find private partners for. Businesses that need housing for their workers or nonprofit organizations looking to house people in need are both possible partners.

But while Habitat will own only a third, the group will retain ownership of all the land beneath the neighborhood in hopes of keeping the area permanently affordable, similar to a Community Land Trust.

Community Land Trusts are legal mechanisms that separate land ownership from the buildings constructed on it, and while technically not a land trust, Habitat’s model will do the same thing.

Residents can own the houses they live in, but they’ll agree to limit appreciation of the home in exchange for buying at below-market rate.

Habitat is projecting the homes to cost between $325,500 for a one-bedroom house to $500,000 for four bedrooms.

The University of Washington’s Center for Real Estate Research found the median home price for Jefferson County in 2022 was $606,800, up from $276,500 in 2015. The Center’s 2023 third quarter report projected the median resale price in Jefferson County at $650,000 a 5 percent increase from last year.

What the total project will cost will be determined by the master plan, Maciejewski said, but she estimated it will take between $8 million to $10 million to finish the neighborhood.

Habitat has secured $4.5 million from the county and local donors for the purchase of the land as well as the construction of roads and internal infrastructure but will need to continue fundraising to complete that phase of the project.

“Ideally we start construction in 2025 and ideally the first home is occupied no later than 2027,” said Bob Collins, Habitat’s director of construction, land and strategy, at the Tuesday meeting.

The preliminary site plan will be an opportunity for the public to react to the plan and give feedback, Maciejewski said.

“I just want to encourage people to know that we’re still interested in talking with more employers. We are still in that real community input stage,” Maciejewski said.

The site plan will be available to view and comment on at 5 p.m. on Jan. 18.

More information is available at habitatejc.org.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

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