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For more information contact:
Rhonda Rosenberg, Director of Communications
King County Housing Authority
(206) 574-1185

Public Housing Metamorphosis: Ribbon-cutting at Seola Gardens Celebrates Community's Revitalization

July 27, 2011

Congressman Jim McDermott, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Councilmember Joe McDermott, and other community leaders slated to speak at event celebrating the grand opening of the first phase of rental housing and the groundbreaking for Providence Joseph House at the new Seola Gardens community rising in White Center.

FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2011

Seola Gardens Grand Opening
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Program begins at 11 a.m.)
10949 5th Ave. SW, Seattle (White Center)

Excellent visuals – Event takes place in Central Park; active constrction site; children from SW Boys & Girls Club will make a brief appearance

The barracks-like homes at Park Lake Homes II are gone.  In their place stand 25 colorful, attractive homes, a new park and the promise of opportunity – for both residents and White Center.  These apartments, called Zephyr, are the first rental housing development at Seola Gardens, and the first step towards a new community rising in White Center.

New rental housing at Seola Gardens in White Center

KCHA and many partners will celebrate the grand opening of the first phase of rental housing and the groundbreaking for Providence Joseph House at the new Seola Gardens community in White Center at 11 a.m. on July 29. The community-based event will be held outdoors in the Central Park at Seola Gardens, 10949 5th Ave. Southwest, in White Center.

Congressman Jim McDermott, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Councilmember Joe McDermott, and others will be on hand for the festivities and the ribbon-cutting of the first 25 homes.

“Our vision for Seola Gardens is of a new neighborhood that complements the rich amenities and diversity of White Center,” said King County Housing Authority Chair Nancy Holland-Young. “When completed, approximately 600 workers, along with banks and private investors, nonprofit service providers, and King County, state, and federal agencies will have collaborated to make this new community possible.”

When completely built-out in 2018, Seola Gardens will feature 177 units of subsidized rental housing and up to 107 for-sale homes. Housing types will range from single-family homes, attached townhomes to mid-rise senior apartments. The community is being redeveloped to serve a broader mix of income levels, while retaining the same number of federally subsidized units for low-income households.

“We are building a new community with an eye to the future – the future of both the residents and White Center,” said King County Housing Authority Executive Director Stephen Norman. “It’s great to welcome the first families to their new homes.”

What they have returned to is a beautiful new community, sited in a terrific location. Seola Gardens is surrounded by towering fir trees, a park and playfields. The site overlooks Lakewood Park where picnicking, swimming at Evergreen Pool, walking trails, and a disc golf course are conveniently available.

Abundant educational opportunities for infants to high school students are also close at hand.  An Early Learning Center and the White Center Heights Elementary School are located half a mile away in Greenbridge, another neighborhood developed by KCHA.  A remodeled Head Start facility will open on-site at Seola Gardens this fall.  Across the street, construction is about to begin on a Technology Access Foundation academy.  And Cascade Middle School and Evergreen High School are within walking distance.

Joseph House, a 65-unit mid-rise apartment complex for seniors, is currently under construction.  To be operated by Providence Health & Services, the new senior community will have programs and services especially for elderly households.  When Providence Joseph House comes online next year, a 6,500 square-foot community center on the main floor will provide educational opportunities for all residents – from job assistance, computer literacy training and ESL (English as a Second Language) classes.  An after-school tutoring program will also be offered, as will arts-centered intergenerational, multicultural learning programs to Seola Gardens’ youth.

“Seola Gardens is about the renaissance of a community,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.  “Between our King County Department of Development and Environmental Services and the Housing Authority, we have designed sustainable housing that costs less to operate and creates healthier living environments for families. The contrast between the old public housing ‘project’ and the new community of Seola Gardens is striking.”

KCHA uses an array of environmentally friendly practices, including rain gardens and a water quality pond that cleans surface water before it leaves the site.  The new units take advantage of natural light and are energy-efficient.  They’re wired to be solar-ready.

The community now has a new “Central Park” complete with playground, new roads and utilities, pea patch gardens, exercise stations, and public art.

“Seola Gardens is a welcoming place for all,” said King County Councilmember Joe McDermott. “Seola Gardens will give our families a place to raise their children and achieve self-sufficiency, and seniors a home in which to age in place comfortably, safely and affordably.”

Seola Gardens is the latest milestone in an ambitious strategy undertaken by the King County Housing Authority to help revitalize White Center, one of the poorest corners in King County.  For the last 10 years, the Housing Authority has been investing private and public funds – about $300 million− to build new housing and expand community services for White Center.

Greenbridge, which broke ground in 2005, now has 478 rental homes, extensive community facilities and services, and 12 new parks. Construction of for-sale homes has just begun and the first homes are for sale.

KCHA, in partnership with a private developer, purchased and renovated the troubled 335-unit Mallard Lake Apartments, now called Coronado Springs, in 2003. The Authority also purchased and rehabilitated Arbor Heights Apartments, formerly known as The Cones, in 2004.

“These revitalized communities have been making their mark in White Center,” said Congressman Jim McDermott.  “Not only have they brought jobs and economic growth to the area, they are providing significant opportunities to our most vulnerable households. For families, they offer the promise of job assistance and academic support and enrichment for their children. And some of our poorest seniors can live in affordable, high-quality homes in which to age with dignity.”

KCHA administers a range of quality affordable rental and homeownership programs for residents of King County. The Authority serves about 18,000 families, elderly and disabled households on a daily basis.

Seola Gardens Facts

  • Location: 10949 5th Ave. Southwest, White Center
  • Site: 30 acres
  • Housing Types: Zephyr (25 units), Fairwind (87 units), Providence Joseph House (64 units for seniors and persons with disabilities), up to 107 for-sale homes
  • General Contractor: Walsh Construction
  • Architect: GGLO

Seola Gardens replaces a 46-year-old public housing complex located on the site.

So far, from demolition to the completion of Zephyr, about 300 workers have been employed at the site.  When the project is completed, it is estimated that more than 600 workers will have been employed. Initial work at Seola Gardens was jump-started by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which helped pay for the abatement and demolition of the old units.

Thanks to KCHA’s partnership with King County, Seola Gardens is being developed as a model of green development.  The community is being built to Three-Star Built Green™ standards, Evergreen standards, and, in the case of Providence Joseph House, Enterprise standards.  All of these standards require measures that add to the efficiency of the structures and site as pertains to the use of energy and water.

The redevelopment of Seola Gardens, in tandem with its sister property Greenbridge, is intended to support the overall revitalization of White Center.  The ultimate development, between the two sites, of 455 units of home ownership will significantly alter the income mix in this neighborhood and generate $1.479 million annually in property taxes.

KCHA is providing 80 Section 8 vouchers received as part of the Seola Gardens initiative to ARCH – A Regional Coalition for Housing – to provide additional affordable housing opportunities on the eastside.  This is above and beyond the more than 1-1 replacement of subsidized units at Seola Gardens. (We are constructing 12 additional subsidized units than Park Lake Homes II provided.)  Providing additional units on the eastside helps ensure a more balanced distribution of affordable housing in the region and offers greater housing choice for low-income families.

Providence Joseph House

KCHA is providing a construction-ready site for Providence Joseph House and is overseeing construction of the building.

Providence Health & Services will lease the site long term. Rental subsidies will be provided through a mix of HUD Section 202 and KCHA Section 8 funds.

Providence Joseph House will have 54 one-bedroom apartments, 10 two-bedroom apartments plus one unit for a resident manager.  Six of the units will be fully accessible and one unit is designed for individuals with sensory impairments.  The remainder of the units will be accessible to individuals in wheelchairs and can be fully adapted for disabled households.

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