PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson Board of County Commissioners approved three separate actions at their Monday meeting that will allow an affordable housing plan to move forward.
Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) is working on a 50-year project to build a 44-unit affordable housing development on Seventh and Hendricks streets at the Castle Hill shopping complex.
The commissioners own the .53-acre property and voted to surplus it for public benefit. They also voted on selling the property to OlyCAP for $36,200 and approved the allocation of $75,000 to OlyCAP from Fund 148.
There are several stipulations to the agreements that OlyCAP has to follow or they will be overturned.
The most central stipulation is the property must be used for affordable housing for public benefit for 50 years, and OlyCAP must provide a viable 50-year plan 60 days before the property sale is closed on or before Sept. 1, 2020.
The commissioners are able to declare the land surplus after they approved a resolution earlier this summer that states they can declare county owned public property for surplus if the land would be used for public benefit that exceeds public concern and that the land is marketable.
This is the first time the commissioners have declared land surplus and to sell it to a nonprofit organization, but this will open the door for future conversations, county Administrator Philip Morley said.
The county assessor declared that the property was worth $362,280, and the commissioners are selling it to OlyCAP at less than 10 percent of the market cost.
The $75,000 allocation that was approved will be drawn from Jefferson County Affordable Housing Fund 148, which only represents a small piece of the funding that OlyCAP is trying to gather to build the 44 affordable apartments.
“There is a mosaic of funding that OlyCAP is trying to obtain,” Morley said. “This is part of it.”
OlyCAP is also applying for a Washington State Housing Trust Fund grant this month.
Currently, the property is being used by Jefferson Healthcare as an additional parking lot under a five-year contract the hospital signed with the commissioners, said Mark McCauley, central services director. Four and half years remain on the pact.
Morley said that when Jefferson Healthcare made the agreement with the county, it could be terminated early if the agreements with OlyCAP proceeded. Jefferson Healthcare is reportedly looking at a different parking location that is almost twice the size as the Seventh and Hendricks streets site.
To break the agreement, the commissioners will have to pay Jefferson Healthcare $40,000 for the remaining time left on the deal, Morley said.
The team who worked with OlyCAP to write and propose the resolution to the commissioners suggested that the board approve the resolutions.
“We believe [the property’s] highest and best use is for public benefit purposes,” McCauley said.
The proposed building project would have 44 apartments and a possible early child development center. The apartment sizes would be six studios, 19 one-bedrooms, 15 two-bedrooms and four three-bedrooms, said Mark Blatter, a board member for the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and a consultant with OlyCAP.
The building would service members of the community who make less than 50 percent of the median average income, OlyCAP Executive Director Dale Wilson said.
The project from its conception to completion will be a four-year endeavor, Wilson said.
“It has not been an easy process to get here and there is no simple solution to difficult projects,” Wilson said. “Delaying this any further would be almost criminal.”
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].