Affordable-housing project set for downtown Kenmore

A new affordable-housing development is in the works for downtown Kenmore.

The project, called Copper Lantern Homes, will include 33 condominiums on a site along Northeast 182nd Street between 68th Avenue Northeast and 73rd Avenue Northeast.

Completion of the project is scheduled for around May 2009.

Units will be priced for families at or below 80 percent of the area median income, with costs between $161,000 to $240,000.

Homes listed in this range traditionally attract first-time buyers, according to the Low-Income Housing Institute (LIHI), which sponsored the project.

Each buyer will have to sign an agreement to ensure that the housing remains permanently affordable.

The condominiums are designed to hold their value, thereby reversing negative stereotypes about affordable housing.

“We try to make our affordable housing look like market-rate housing,” said LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee. “We want them to be as attractive as possible so the owners will be proud of where they live.”

The goal is to create a development that won’t make the neighbors cringe.

“There’s always that fear of ‘Not in my back yard,’” Lee said. “This kind of development gives the owners pride, and it becomes an asset to the community by increasing the land value.

“If affordable housing is built to a high standard, people will want us in the community.”

Projects such as this are also intended to encourage a diverse demographic.

“Our philosophy is that close-in neighborhoods and urban centers make sure there is a mix of families and ages and income levels in a community,” Lee said. “We look at opportunities that will bring people together.”

The Copper Lantern homes are designed to be energy efficient while meeting “green” building standards.

The development itself utilizes principles of “smart growth,” which call for centrally located housing that is situated close to transit services, shopping and schools.

A groundbreaking ceremony took place June 17 to celebrate the start of construction. King County Executive Ron Sims and Kenmore City Councilmember Laurie Sperry were on hand at the event along with King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson, who represents Kenmore.

“This project represents the future of affordable housing and environmental sustainability in King County,” Ferguson said.

The city of Kenmore contributed $75,000 toward the Copper Lantern development as a member of A Regional Coalition of Housing (ARCH).

Municipalities belonging to that group pledge to provide funds for affordable-housing projects in their own, as well as other member cities.

Other funding partners included King County, the city of Woodinville and ARCH.

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