Redeveloping Baker Heights area starts, WSU college expansion drops out of plan
EVERETT — The Baker Heights public housing site in the Delta Neighborhood has begun to be demolished to make way for 105 new apartment units for low income individuals and families.
Sixty-seven of the units will be designated for homeless children and their families. The remainder of the units will be for older adults.
Plans for the rest of the site are ongoing. Washington State University had plans to purchase 10 of the remaining acres to expand its college, but was unable to finalize a deal.
“The Washington State Legislature appropriated $10 million to fund the model outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and the model was developed based on that level of state funding,” WSU-Everett spokesman Randy Bolerjack said last week. “Unfortunately, that model no longer works for Housing Authority. WSU proposed a new model in which the University would acquire less acreage at the same cost per square foot outlined in the MOU, in a buildable configuration. That offer was declined.” The university learned this in early June, Bolerjack said.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved the disposition of the site by the Housing Authority because the houses there were deemed obsolete.
“The cost of repairs ex-ceeded a certain threshold,” said Ashley Lommers-Johnson, executive director of the Everett Housing Authority. “The decision was made to dispose of the site and to build some replacement housing on-site on the south portion of the site.”
As for what will become of the remainder of the site, the Housing Authority has held community meetings to determine how to include amenities to serve the Delta Neighborhood. The Housing Authority also plans to have some market rate housing at the site in an effort to disperse the concentration of low-income housing to other neighborhoods.
The new development at Baker Heights is the first phase in the Everett Housing Authority’s plan to create 1,500 new affordable housing units in the next 10 years, Lommers-Johnson said.
“We had 244 housing units there and we want to replace 244 housing units in Everett, not necessarily at that site,” he said. “We haven’t decided how many subsidized units will be on the site, but under no circumstances will there be more than 244 total units back on the site, and most likely less than that.”
The effort to inject a larger supply of subsidized and low-income housing in Everett by the Housing Authority is a direct response to the growing economic disparity in our region.
“There’s over 1,100 homeless school children in the city of Everett so there’s a substantial need,” Lommers-Johnson said. “And that doesn’t include all the people who simply are homeless in and around Everett. The need is vast. You are having people who are working full-time jobs who can’t afford a one-bedroom apartment in the city of Everett because the rents have just skyrocketed over the last number of years.”
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