Revitalization Planned for Long-Neglected Mt. Baker Sites

Revitalization Planned for Long-Neglected Mt. Baker Sites

Mayor Ed Murray recently signed a resolution to designate an area of the Mt. Baker neighborhood a Redevelopment Opportunity Zone (ROZ). The resolution opens the door for a new partnership between the Washington State Department of Ecology, the City of Seattle, and the nonprofit Mt. Baker Housing, creating a welcoming Mt. Baker town center and 150 new affordable homes for low-income families.

“This is a win for the environment, a win for affordable housing, and a win for a more livable Mt. Baker neighborhood,” said Mayor Murray. “We continue to develop new and innovative partnerships to support more affordable homes across Seattle. Today we celebrate a positive step forward to support sustainability and healthy communities.”

Mt. Baker Housing is a community-based nonprofit dedicated to providing affordable homes in Southeast Seattle. Phase one of the Mt. Baker Gateway project is intended to build two new mixed-use buildings with approximately 150 units of affordable housing and 15,000-30,000 square feet of new commercial retail space. In addition, the proposed redevelopment will provide new connections from the residential neighborhoods and parks to the Mt. Baker commercial area and light rail station.

The Mount Baker Hub Business Association formally joined with Mount Baker Housing and supported the City’s designation of the ROZ.

“We are delighted to see this mixed use project moving forward,” said Mount Baker Hub Business Association president Talis Abolins. “This project will complete the northeast gateway of our Town Center for mixed use redevelopment.”

The affordable housing project will be seeking financing to include Low Income Housing Tax Credits, City of Seattle Office of Housing funds, and other sources.

“The Mount Baker Town Center’s contribution to equitable development is clear,” said Abolins. “We are home to the Mount Baker Lofts/ArtSpace, the successful mixed use Claremont, the Estelle supportive housing project which just broke ground, and now this 150 unit expansion of Mount Baker Housing. But the City must not forget the important need for livability and economic opportunity in our Town Center. We still suffer from Southeast Seattle’s worst open space gap. The children of the Hoa Mai Vietnamese Preschool and the Mount Baker Lofts still need a neighborhood park. The galleries and businesses of our ArtSpace building would benefit from improved walkability and livability, and a range of market rate housing that can support employment and small business opportunities for our residents.

“The Rainier Valley is home to the most racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse neighborhoods in Seattle,” added Diane Narasaki, Executive Director of Asian Counseling and Referral Service. “It is also economically diverse, and has for many years been home to low-income people and the workers who make our city run. As Seattle’s population booms, and property values rise, the Rainier Valley’s residents are being pushed out of the neighborhood. The Mt. Baker Gateway Project’s 150 new, affordable workforce units will help the neighborhood retain its beautiful diversity and character, and provide much needed housing and economic development in one of the neighborhoods that most needs it.”

Mt. Baker Housing will be the first non-governmental organization to receive funds under the state’s Brownfield Redevelopment Trust Fund created in 2013. The organization will use the funds to help complete an environmental cleanup of a former gas station and remediation from historic dry cleaning practices.

“Thanks to Mount Baker Housing’s partnership with the Department of Ecology, an area that would have been contaminated for decades will now be cleaned up, adding another 150 units of affordable housing to a historically diverse affordable housing complex,” said Abolins.

Mt. Baker Housing reached a significant milestone last December when it entered into a Prospective Purchaser Consent Decree with the Washington State Department of Ecology on the environmental remediation plan. With the consent decree and ROZ in place, Ecology will provide $400,000 to begin environmental work on the site, and another $1.1 million is in Governor Jay Inslee’s budget for this project.

“While our Town Center core is still a patchwork of surplus and undeveloped property, it provides the City with an unparalleled opportunity to collaborate on a model community that combines affordability with sustainability, livability and economic opportunity,” Abolins. “This is an opportunity we cannot afford to waste.”

The project is expected to break ground in 2019 and complete construction in 2020.

Celebrating its one-year anniversary, the Hoa Mai Vietnamese Bilingual Preschool unveiled a mural on its play area at the Mount Baker Lofts/Artspace building. The mural, sponsored by the Mount Baker Hub Business Association, helps buffer the Hao Mai play area from Rainier Avenue. Featured image: The City’s 3D graphic visualization of a dense Town Center with height zones. Note the large public open space visualized in the northeast section of our Town Center.

 

2 Comments

  1. Is there special, safe and non-toxic coatings available to protect murals from permanent tagging? For example, being able to clean off graffiti w/o ruining the original work?