Spokane Journal of Business

$9 million senior-housing project planned in Valley

Federal funds awarded for portion of Appleway Court, rental assistance

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Two Spokane-based nonprofits, Spokane United Methodist Homes and Community Frameworks, are planning jointly a $9 million housing project in Spokane Valley that would serve low-income seniors and already have secured federal money to cover nearly half of the cost.

Spokane United Methodist Homes, which does business as Rockwood Retirement Communities, bought the proposed project site at the southeast corner of Appleway Boulevard and Farr Road last spring.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded Spokane United Methodist Homes $4.3 million for the 51-unit project, says Chris Venne, development finance manager for Community Frameworks.

Community Frameworks develops affordable housing and helps with the efforts of various organizations to meet the housing needs of low- and moderate-income people.

It has played a role in developing or preserving more than 500 low-income rental units and constructing more than 150 single-family homes and condominium units for first-time homebuyers, its Web site says.

Because of that experience, Rockwood Retirement Communities asked it to cosponsor the project.

The project, which is to be called Appleway Court, would include 38 low-income senior housing units, 12 units for seniors with income above the low-income threshold, and one unit that would be occupied by an on-site manager, Venne says.

To complete the project funding, the co-sponsors are seeking another roughly $4.7 million through a combination of low-income housing tax credits, tax-exempt bond financing, and the Washington state Housing Trust Fund, he says.

Work on the project could begin by midsummer and be completed in spring 2010, depending on whether the additional funding can be secured by sometime this spring, Venne says.

The one-bedroom units would average 500 square feet in floor space, he says.

Zeck Butler Architects PS, of Spokane, is designing the project, and the living units will be constructed in either one three-story building or two two-story buildings, he says. A contractor hasn't been selected yet.

The HUD award is in the form of an interest-free loan, but if the project is maintained as low-income housing for 40 years, the loan will be forgiven, Venne says, adding, "Essentially, it's a grant."

In addition to funds toward development of the project, HUD awarded a three-year rent subsidy totaling $420,100. The subsidy will be used to pay the difference between the HUD-approved rent, and 30 percent of a low-income tenant's income.

Historically, such a rent subsidy has been renewed throughout the life of a qualifying project, Venne says.

The project would be Rockwood Retirement Communities' first endeavor in low-income housing, he says.

In addition to providing the affordable housing, the company intends to provide a service coordinator, limited transportation services, a wellness program, and a meals service through Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels, says Alan Curryer, Rockwood Retirement Communities' CEO.

"Rockwood is striving to enhance the development with services that will allow seniors to age in place and to live life with as much independence and vitality as possible," Curryer says.

Rockwood Retirement Communities operates two facilities here—Rockwood South, at 2903 E. 25th, on the South Hill, and Rockwood at Hawthorne, at 101 E. Hawthorne, just north of the Spokane city limits.

Mike McLean
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Reporter Mike McLean covers real estate and construction at the Journal of Business. A multipurpose fisherman and vintage record album aficionado, Mike has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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