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posted Friday, February 19, 2021 - Volume 40 Issue 08
To help address displacement in the Central District, Mount Zion's affordable senior housing project taking shape on 19th Ave
Section One
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To help address displacement in the Central District, Mount Zion's affordable senior housing project taking shape on 19th Ave

by Ari Cetron - Capitol Hill Seattle

SEATTLE (Feb. 15, 2021) - Mount Zion's affordable senior housing development, hoped to help address displacement and gentrification, could begin construction as soon as this summer.

The property is on 19th Ave just north of Madison and is being developed by Mount Zion Housing Development, the housing arm of the nearby Mount Zion Baptist Church. The property is currently occupied by the Price Arms apartments on a lot shaped roughly like a triangle with one end cut off. The existing building, a two-story, four-unit apartment building that county tax records indicate was built in 1901, would be demolished. Mount Zion housing has owned the property for decades.

The project will add to a small wave of new housing for seniors in the area and could be part of a series of new buildings related to Mount Zion, as one of Seattle's leading Black churches moves forward on long-held plans to develop its property holdings.

Plans for the senior housing project first began taking shape in late 2019 but have changed a bit as they've gone through review. Final plans call for six stories above ground and one below, according to Sam Cameron of Rolluda Architects. Inside there will be 61 units, including a mix of studio and one-bedrooms, with some of the units set aside for veterans. The plan also includes space for group meetings or activities, and a roof deck. The housing is going to be rented at prices designed to be affordable to people making between 30% and 60% of the area median income.

Initial plans had called for two ground-level spaces for retail uses, but those have been nixed, Cameron said. Instead there will be a ground-level community space and no commercial space along 19th Ave.

There was limited public comment during the review process, but the few written comments [concerned] parking. The building had been planned to have seven spots, which commenters considered too few. They noted many in that age group still drive, and also that they might receive visitors who would need a place to park.

The new plans cut parking back even further, allowing for four spots to be used by service vehicles, Cameron said. City regulations do not require any parking for this project.

The building is for seniors, defined as people ages 55 and older. The developers plan for "culturally relevant and linguistically competent" services to be available and to target the units to seniors who have been displaced or are at risk of being displaced because of gentrification. The design and colors are hoped to reflect the African diaspora.

It's just behind another Mount Zion Housing project, McKinney Manor on Madison. The developer plans to use the adjacency to help link the two buildings.

Last spring, the project went through an administrative process as Seattle has moved affordable projects out of the standard - and longer - design review. The administrative process is typically faster than the standard process of going before the review board, and is permitted in cases like this one, which involve publicly funded developments. In this case, the project is drawing on funding from the city of Seattle Office of Housing, King County Housing, and the state Housing Trust Fund.

Cameron said they expect to begin construction in July and complete it by December 2022. The 19th Ave. project could be part of a small wave of new development for seniors hoping to stay or become part of the Capitol Hill and Central District communities. Community Roots Housing is developing the "LGBTQ-affirming affordable senior housing project" The Eldridge on Broadway between Pine and Pike.

Reprinted from the Capitol Hill Seattle blog

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