MARCH 3, 1997

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Bothell gets land for trail loop, affordable senior housing

senior housing by Jeff Switzer, senior staff reporter
BOTHELL--The old Riverside Lumber site, across the street from the recently-demolished Walters Feed Mill and kitty-corner from the Northshore Senior Center, is slated for affordable senior housing later this year plus a trail loop to Blyth Park in 1999, with funds for the housing coming from a new local and regional partnership.
   In exchange for completing the loop to Blyth Park, King County conveyed to Bothell about three-quarters of an acre, valued around $133,000, for 50 low-income senior units there. With the city's land, the total is 1.5 acres.
   To facilitate development, the project has been awarded $225,000 from King County's Housing Challenge Grant for construction of 50 units on the property. And the cities of Bothell and Kirkland, along with Bellevue-based developer Shelter Resources, Inc. and ARCH (A Regional Coalition for Housing) joined in matching the county's grant with another $250,000.
   "It's a very complicated process to build this kind of housing," said Manny Ocampo, assistant city manager. "There's multilayered funding packages, tax credits, grants; ARCH has really taken the lead on this and is pulling it all together."
   The housing project will go before the Planning Commission, which will either approve or deny the conditional use permit that is required because the parcel is zoned office and professional. Ocampo said King County originally purchased this land for trail easement, and this action helps to realize their investment in trails, as well as move Bothell toward their senior housing goals.
   "This really was a win-win situation, and is a good precedent of the kind of working relationship with King County we need," Ocampo said.

Trail loop to connect Burke-Gilman with Blyth Park
   As part of the deal, King County will hold a 35-foot easement for the trail loop, which will link the Burke-Gilman Trail and Blyth Park. Plans in the works will use King County's train trestle to connect the Burke-Gilman Trail and the park, nearly one mile away.
   "This is one more piece to our trail plan," said Park Superintendent Clark Meek. "It'll be an excellent addition for the seniors and the community down there to have that loop."
   The County Council approved the conveyance of land unanimously, an action which pleased other local elected officials and regional housing advocates.
   "One of the big draws about this location for senior housing is its close proximity to the Northshore Senior Center and to the park and ride lot," said King County Councilmember Maggi Fimia, who represents the Bothell area. "This is a great project that helps us achieve a number of our goals, including helping King County move forward in developing low-income housing for elderly citizens." Councilmember Louise Miller added that the partnership also benefits thousands of regional trail users and provides a local trail for residents.
   The County's Housing Challenge Grant program has provided $500,000 for construction of affordable housing in King County.
   "The purpose of the Challenge Grant is to promote cooperation between cities and encourage greater contributions to affordable housing projects," said Councilmember Larry Phillips, who has spearheaded the program. Phillips says the public-private partnership challenges jurisdictions to work with private businesses to increase the number of affordable units regionally.
   Councilmember Cynthia Sullivan, chair of the Housing and Policy Planning Committee, said that for the Growth Management Act to work, everyone has to pitch in to make urban housing more affordable. "The need is especially glaring among senior citizens, who often are forced to move from the neighborhoods where they have lived most of their lives because they can't find affordable housing," Sullivan said.
   Construction of the senior housing is expected to begin later this year, and the Burke-Gilman trail loop is slated for spring 1999. Bothell city staff plan to add the project to their capital improvement program and seek grants and other funding sources.