Community Frameworks eyes East Sprague project
Proposed 36-unit complex would cost about $8 millionJanuary 14th, 2016
Community Frameworks, a nonprofit low-income housing advocacy group, has submitted a pre-development application to the city of Spokane for an envisioned 36-unit, low-income residential complex that would be developed at the southwest corner of Sprague Avenue and Madelia Street.
Tim Williams, Community Frame-works’ senior housing developer, says the proposed $8 million, four-building complex has hurdles to clear.
This month, Community Frame-works must submit a proposal to the Washington State Housing Finance Commission seeking funding to develop the property.
The Housing Finance Commission typically approves housing tax credits for specific projects, and affordable-housing developers then sell tax credits to help raise capital for such projects.
Car Connection, a used-car dealer, currently occupies the lot at 1704 E. Sprague where the units would be built if funding is approved. With three other locations in Spokane, Car Connection’s owners say they would move inventory from East Sprague to other sites if the housing plan gets funded.
The initial design calls for a three-story, 18-unit apartment complex that would be built along Sprague. Three separate buildings would be developed to the south along First Avenue, Williams says.
ZBA Architecture PS, of Spokane, has drafted the initial designs. The entire complex would encompass 38,000 square feet of space, Williams says.
Eighteen of the 36 units, designed with families in mind, would include three bedrooms and would have 1,200 square feet of space. Among the other 18 units, twelve two-bedroom apartments units would have either 1,000 square feet or 770 square feet of space, and six single-room apartments would have 550 square feet.
Planners have designed recreational and office space exclusively for tenants that would total 1,500 square feet. Community Frameworks recently moved its headquarters and eight-person staff downtown to the main floor of the Empire State Building, at 905 W. Riverside, from its longtime base at 315 W. Mission.
With the relocation, the organization now is developing the West 315 low-income apartment project at its former home. The city of Spokane has approved building permits for that project, which will include a three-story, 30,000-square-foot building with 33 apartment units.
As for the East Sprague project, since last September, the state’s Housing Trust Fund—under the jurisdiction of the Washington state Department of Commerce—has pledged $1.2 million to the housing project while the city of Spokane earmarked $300,000 for it.
Community Frameworks now will apply for the remaining $6.5 million in tax credits necessary to complete the project. It will submit the application to what is called the 9% Housing Credit Program, which is overseen by the state’s housing finance commission, Williams says.
That low-income-housing tax-credit program allocates federal income tax credits to developers to encourage the construction and rehabilitation of affordable multifamily housing. Housing credit funds are dispersed through a competitive process in which many other statewide projects are evaluated and scored according to the housing finance commission’s established criteria, Williams says.
“The fact there is already financial support for our project will help in the scoring process,” Williams says. “I believe it will score well. I think it has an excellent chance of being approved. However, it’s a competitive process.”
Williams expects the state housing finance commission to make a final decision in February.
Community Frameworks was founded in Spokane in 1974 under the name Northwest Regional Foundation. The organization also has an office in Bremerton, Wash.
“We want to be a catalyst for housing and activity in that neighborhood,” Williams says of the East Sprague area. “There is a need for more low-income housing in Spokane. Wages are low, and affordable rent is a real issue here.”