Sound Transit, Mercy Housing Northwest to celebrate affordable transit-oriented development in Rainier Valley

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Mercy Othello Plaza near light rail station provides 108 energy-efficient apartments to families earning $18,000-$55,000 a year

Sound Transit and Mercy Housing Northwest will mark the opening of a public-private transit-oriented housing development (TOD) in southeast Seattle during a dedication ceremony 11 a.m. Saturday, July 8, at Mercy Othello Plaza, 6940 Martin Luther King Jr. Way South.

"Mercy Housing Northwest has done an outstanding job of creating a mixed-used facility that provides needed affordable housing while also contributing to the economic development of this neighborhood," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. "Mercy Othello Plaza serves as a great example of how transit-oriented developments can transform communities throughout the region."

"Often in today's economy, finding housing you can afford means settling for a long, expensive commute," said Dow Constantine, Sound Transit Board member and King County Executive. "Mercy Othello Plaza shows how we can leverage the opportunity of affordable, high-capacity transit by building affordable housing near Link light rail stations. As a Sound Transit Board member, I will ensure the agency continues to turn land from transit projects into transit-oriented development—to meet the needs of working people in our growing region."

"Today we celebrate the opening of more than a hundred family homes that will help working families live in a diverse neighborhood steps away from open spaces, health services and transit," said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. "This is the exact type of investment we need to make Seattle an affordable and livable place for families, new immigrants to this country, and people who face obstacles to stable housing. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who made Mercy Othello Housing a reality."

"Mercy Othello Plaza is a superb example of TOD partnerships that create livable, walkable communities by providing affordable housing near light rail stations," said Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Peter Rogoff. "Every day, families living at this facility enjoy the benefit of using a reliable, convenient transit system to get to work, run errands and ride to weekend events without the hassle and expense of driving."

"It has been wonderful seeing our resident families settle into their new homes here at Mercy Othello Plaza," said Mercy Housing Northwest President Bill Rumpf. "Sound Transit provides access to our whole region. This location is ideal for families—with great access to jobs, school, a park and local shops. We are grateful for the opportunity to help meet the vast need for affordable family housing in Seattle."

The mixed-use facility located across the street from the Othello Link light rail Station provides 108 energy-efficient affordable housing units for individuals and families earning $18,000 to $55,000 a year. Sixty percent of the apartments offer two or three bedrooms to accommodate families. The building includes a 2,000 square foot community center for resident services, 7,500 square feet of office space for Mercy Housing Northwest headquarters and landscaped courtyard. Secured parking for residents is also available.

Mercy Housing envisions Mercy Othello Plaza as a hub for growing a vibrant, culturally diverse neighborhood, with restaurants, shopping and transit located steps from the front door. Designed by Ankrom Moisan Architects and built by Walsh Construction, the integrated, pedestrian-friendly facility is intended to strengthen community connections and foster neighborhood growth by combining affordable housing and commercial uses, providing space for community gatherings and making it easier for people to get around using transit.

Two and a half years ago, Sound Transit sold a portion of the land it acquired for construction of its Othello Station to Mercy Housing through a competitive application process. Sound Transit and the City of Seattle worked together to use City grant funds for accelerating the offering schedule for the site’s development. Other funding sources for the project include the Washington State Finance Housing Commission Low Income Housing Tax Credits, the Seattle Office of Housing, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and Norcliffe Foundation.

Sound Transit’s collaboration with Mercy Housing Northwest is its second transit-oriented development project along the agency’s first light rail segment and its third affordable housing project to open in the region. The Korean Women’s Association’s Senior City near the Federal Way Transit Center was the first transit-oriented development built on land Sound Transit acquired for construction purposes. It opened in 2010 and provides 62 units of affordable senior housing. Artspace’s Mt. Baker Lofts next to the Mt. Baker Link light rail station opened four years later; it provides 57 units of affordable artist housing and 12 commercial spaces.

Architectural design is now underway for TOD parcels at the Capitol Hill light rail station, and offerings for TOD parcels near the Roosevelt, First Hill, Columbia City, Angle Lake and SeaTac transit areas will be issued this year.

Sound Transit is committed to implementing regional, equitable transit-oriented development strategies that support diverse, vibrant, mixed-used and mixed-income communities consistent with local TOD plans. By emphasizing pedestrian and transit access to development clustered at and around transit stations, TOD projects lead to vital, sustainable communities that encourage economic development, improve mobility, decrease dependence on cars, and preserve open space.

More information on Mercy Othello Plaza is available at mercyhousing.org.