A 334-unit affordable housing development in the Redondo Heights neighborhood broke ground Wednesday, Feb. 1, with plans to welcome residents by 2024.
The project involves fixing up the 132 existing units at Silver Shadow Apartments and building another 202 behind the original units, located just across 276th Street from the Redondo Heights Park & Ride on Pacific Highway South.
The apartment complex will be co-owned through an LLC run by the local nonprofit Multi-Service Center (MSC) and Bellevue-based affordable housing developer Shelter Resources, which bought the property, MSC CEO Robin Corak said. It will include an on-site resources navigator and a satellite MSC food bank structured like a grocery store that can serve all of north Federal Way.
The development, located at the confluence of the cities of Federal Way, Des Moines and Kent, is also near the upcoming 272nd Street Link Light Rail station extension.
Though the property was not technically designated as affordable housing, the previous owner of the Silver Shadow Apartments had essentially operated it in that way, Corak said. When the owner was ready to sell the property, “we wanted to make sure to be able to preserve” that affordable housing while making some capital improvements, she said.
The property will be called Redondo Heights, and for all intents and purposes, the MSC will own and operate it once constructed, Corak said.
“Right now we anticipate construction being finished mid-to-late 2024,” Corak said, with residents moving in that same year absent any major hiccups in the process.
The community will also have a dog run, community center and garden, playground and a café, making the development a bit of a neighborhood unto itself.
The on-site resource navigator will help people with things like accessing government programs or training for higher-wage jobs. It’s something they already do at other sites, like their housing for veterans, Corak said
“We found that when you have somebody accessible like that, it’s extremely helpful,” Corak said. “Particularly if you haven’t had to access resources before, it can be very overwhelming to (find out) what’s available. … and I think it’s a little bit easier, too, when you have a relationship with someone who is working on-site, to feel comfortable going to them.”
The tenants are “primarily going to be (working) families and individuals who simply can’t afford market rate rent,” Corak said.
At 60% of the current median income in King County, the development would likely be limited to folks under $56,600 for one-bedroom apartments and $72,700 for three-bedroom apartments. A projected estimate of rental prices is around $1,200 to $1,4500 for a one-bedroom, $1,450 to $1,750 for a two-bedroom and $1,650 to $2,000 for a three-bedroom.
Corak cautioned that those numbers are likely to be different when the development open, because there are many factors that determine the rates, so projected income and rent levels change every year or two.
“I don’t think people always realize how expensive housing is,” Corak said in a follow-up email. “Job wages definitely have not caught up with the cost of housing. We try to keep our rents as low as possible while also making sure that the property is financially sustainable and has sufficient funding to keep up with capital and maintenance needs.”
For the past decade, the biggest issues cited in the MSC’s surveys have been housing affordability and homelessness, Corak said, as well as a lack of housing options. Some of their tenants work two jobs and still can’t afford a market-rate apartment.
“While affordable housing can be expensive, and have some challenges, it’s certainly a better alternative than having folks lose their housing because they can’t afford it,” she said. “We know homelessness is a big issue in our area and this is one of the ways we’re trying to address that.”
The Redondo Heights project received $11 million in funding from King County’s Housing Finance Program, which aims to create more living space for low-income people, and additional funding from Amazon and the state Department of Commerce.
Gencap Construction out of Kirkland will build the new development and SRI-Rochlin Construction LLC will work on the renovations. Bumgardner Architects is the architectural firm.
The Multi-Service Center, founded in 1971, develops affordable housing and provides assistance with rent, employment, family shelter and supportive housing throughout South King County, as well as operating the Federal Way Food Bank.
“This is definitely a group effort,” Corak said. “It takes a village and this was truly an example of that. We could not do this type of project if it wasn’t for the support of many diverse stakeholders, funders, elected officials and community members.”