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Sound Transit selects regional leader in affordable housing for new Rainier Valley development

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

Sound Transit has selected Mercy Housing Northwest to build 108 apartments above ground floor commercial space just steps from its Othello Link light rail station in Southeast Seattle.

Sound Transit selected Mercy through a competitive public process soliciting proposals to develop the site on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South near Myrtle Street. Following negotiations the Sound Transit Board will review a proposed agreement.

"Light rail is now a part of the community in Southeast Seattle," said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. "I am excited to see the community grow with more affordable housing options for our region's working families."

Sound Transit will work with the City of Seattle Office of Housing to ensure adequate and timely financing for the site. 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.

"The City is delighted for the opportunity to invest in this location," said Sound Transit Board member and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. "We are excited to build on our longstanding relationship with Sound Transit to ensure that this prime site can offer affordable housing to families who could not otherwise afford to live in the city. Equity is essential to a healthy community and we are confident that our partnership with Sound Transit here at Othello will ensure that this great neighborhood continues to thrive."

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.

"We thank Sound Transit for this opportunity," said Bill Rumpf, President of Mercy Housing Northwest. "We will work with the city, county and community to bring additional housing and jobs to that dynamic neighborhood. We see the need for high-quality rental housing in southeast Seattle, based on the fast lease-up of our two recent developments in the area."

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 is scheduled to open its mixed-use development with 57 rental units of affordable live/work space for artists and their families this 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.