Poulsbo proposal includes affordable housing

Source: Kitsap Sun
By: Tad Sooter
Posted: May 18, 2016

POULSBO — A former mobile home dealership in Poulsbo could be transformed into a residential neighborhood if a joint venture between Housing Kitsap and a private developer comes to fruition.

The nonprofit housing agency and development firm Sound West Group announced plans this week to build a mixed affordable and market-rate housing development at 19647 Viking Ave., the former site of Golden Homes. Sound West is under contract to purchase the property, according to the announcement, and is completing due diligence steps before finalizing the purchase.

“It is a very exciting time but very early in the process,” Sound West Group partner Wes Larson said in the announcement.

Housing Kitsap Executive Director Stuart Grogan said the partners hope to build between 70 and 100 housing units on the 2-acre site to help meet a growing need for housing for lower income residents.

“Poulsbo was certainly in need of some additional affordable housing options,” Grogan said.

Rents increased sharply in North Kitsap during the past two years. Average rent in large apartment complexes in Poulsbo and on Bainbridge Island was nearly $1,300 per month at the end of 2015, up about 25 percent from 2013, according to data provided by Tom Cain of Apartment Insights Washington. Vacancy rates among those complexes hovered at about 4 percent.

Lately the city has been losing affordable housing units rather than adding them. An apartment complex on Hostmark Street called Woodcreek has opted out of a federal subsidy program and is increasing rents to market rate, displacing many residents. Grogan said it’s possible other subsidized properties in the area could follow suit.

In response to the loss of homes for low-income families, Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson convened an informal task force of developers, housing officials and nonprofit leaders to brainstorm affordable housing solutions. That discussion led Sound West Group and Housing Kitsap to collaborate on the Viking Avenue proposal.

Housing Kitsap, formerly Kitsap Consolidated Housing Authority, provides more than 900 homes for low- and moderate-income households in the county. Sound West is a development and property management firm that currently is building the Spyglass Apartments in Bremerton.

Grogan said developing the Viking Avenue site is a complex process that will take at least three years to complete. The first step is to vet the property and ensure a housing development is feasible there. Then the partners need to secure funding, likely using a combination of affordable housing tax credits, grants and conventional bank loans. Grogan said partnering with a private developer will help Housing Kitsap leverage limited government funds available for affordable housing projects.

Though it still is in the early stages, Erickson said she was thrilled by the Viking Avenue proposal.

“One of the goals we have in Poulsbo is to provide housing for all socio-economic groups,” she said “There’s real diversity in what’s being built moving forward.”

The Viking Avenue property won’t sit idle while housing options are studied. Sumner RV plans to open a dealership on the site June 2.