Sound Transit Board approves land sale for new Rainier Valley affordable housing development

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Transit-Oriented project near Othello Station to provide 108 new apartments for low-income families

The Sound Transit Board of Directors has approved the sale of agency-owned land near the Othello Link light rail station in Southeast Seattle to be developed with 108 affordable apartments above ground floor commercial space.

Sound Transit selected Mercy Housing Northwest through a competitive public process soliciting proposals to develop the site on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South near Myrtle Street. Sound Transit had used the land for construction staging while building the light rail line.

Through a partnership with the City of Seattle's Office of Housing and the Rainier Valley Community Development Fund, Mercy will purchase the site for $1.9 million.

"We're connecting affordable, mixed-use housing with reliable light-rail service," said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. "Our effort around the Othello Station is a model for helping create vibrant communities."

Transit-oriented development such as multifamily apartments near light rail stations is one of the priorities for the Office of Housing, which administers the Seattle Housing Levy and other resources dedicated to the development of affordable housing.

"Through our partnership with Sound Transit and Mercy Housing, we're excited to help lay the groundwork for a new affordable housing option near light rail," said Sound Transit Board member and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.  "Projects like this require many different agencies to work together for a common goal and this project is a great example of how we can get the job done."

Mercy has been based in Seattle for over 20 years and manages almost 2,000 housing units in Washington, with most clustered in Central Puget Sound.  In the past few years, Mercy has built a 52-unit apartment for small families near the Columbia City light rail station, and more recently a new 62-unit family apartment development in Rainier Beach.

"Affordable family housing is a key to maintaining the vitality of southeast Seattle," said Bill Rumpf, President of Mercy Housing Northwest. "This is a fantastic opportunity to work with the city and Sound Transit to provide quality housing for working families who can take advantage of light rail at their doorstep."

The design concept for the project, called Myrtle Apartments at Othello Station, includes a total of 108 affordable apartments for low-income families above 8,000 square feet of ground floor commercial and community space with 50 underground parking spots.

The project will provide apartments affordable to a wide range of families earning up to 60% of the area median income, which is $47,640 for a three-person household. The apartments will also include a mix of unit sizes. Nearly two-thirds of the apartments will be two or three-bedrooms, responding to the City's goal for more affordable family-sized housing. 

The Othello project is the second development on Sound Transit property near its light rail stations in Rainier Valley. The non-profit ArtSpace organization opened its mixed-use development with 57 rental units of affordable live/work space for artists and their families over the summer just steps from Mt. Baker Station.

The Sound Transit Board recently adopted updated transit-oriented development policies to grow transit ridership by promoting positive land uses and development within walking distance of its stations.