New homes priced be­low $300K are com­ing to Ta­coma

The News Tribune - - Front Page - BY DEB­BIE COCK­RELL dcock­[email protected]­new­stri­bune.com

Look­ing for a home for less than $300,000?

If your to­tal house­hold in­come is $75,000 or less, a new Ta­coma neigh­bor­hood might be just for you.

The res­i­den­tial devel­op­ment, called “The Pre­serve,” is com­ing to the Char­lotte’s Blue­berry

Park area of the city. It’s one of the first high-pro­file salvos in bring­ing home prices back down to Earth in the metro area.

Green Har­bor Com­mu­ni­ties, the Ta­coma-based de­vel­op­ers, is call­ing this “work­force hous­ing.”

They also em­pha­size they’re not your typ­i­cal de­vel­op­ers.

This is the first project for co­founders Bill Rehe, a fish­eries bi­ol­o­gist and restora­tion ecol­o­gist, and Michael Press­nall, vice pres­i­dent of in­dus­try re­la­tions at real­tor.com.

“This started with our two fam­i­lies,” Rehe told The News Tri­bune in a phone in­ter­view Tues­day. “I had this utopian idea about af­ford­able, sus­tain- able hous­ing. I took Mike to lunch and he pulled out sim­i­lar plans of his own.”

Here’s how it works: You’re el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply to buy if your to­tal house­hold in­come is $75,000 or less and you work within 15 miles of the site, which is on D Street, be­tween roughly 75th and 80th streets.

The homes will range from two bed­rooms, one bath and

950 square feet for $230,000 to $240,000 to mod­els that have three bed­rooms, two baths and 1,250 square feet for $250,000 to $265,000.

The homes are owner-oc­cu­pied but there’s a home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion lease hold over the prop­er­ties once you buy.

The as­so­ci­a­tion signs a 99year lease with the home­owner with an au­to­matic re­newal for an­other 99 years. This es­sen­tially locks down the pur­chase terms to keep the homes af­ford­able.

You can pass the homes down to fam­ily mem­bers or sell, but new buy­ers face the same qual­i­fy­ing terms as the orig­i­nal buy­ers.

Rehe said they ini­tially floated the idea with Gig Har­bor.

It went nowhere.

Gig Har­bor’s loss was Ta­coma’s gain. Ta­coma Pub­lic Schools was look­ing to sell some parcels south of Blue­berry Park, a site tricky to de­velop with its wet­lands.

“We had a friend who knew about Ta­coma Pub­lic Schools prop­erty,” Rehe re­called. “It had been a blight and neigh­bors

were up in arms so we went through process of pur­chase. We met with neigh­bors and City of Ta­coma staff and got down to this idea of pre­serv­ing the wet­lands and to con­cen­trate on sus­tain­able eco-friendly homes on less crit­i­cal ar­eas along D Street.”

Meet­ings en­sued, and the district even­tu­ally sold the prop­erty to the de­vel­op­ers for $427,500.

“Ta­coma Pub­lic Schools could project no long-term school use for that site,” said Dan Voelpel, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the school sys­tem. “So we were pleased to find a buyer who will put the prop­erty to a pos­i­tive use for the neigh­bor­hood that will be com­pat­i­ble with the com­mu­nity park next door.”

The plans call for a 30-acre devel­op­ment that pre­serves 22 acres of wet­lands and de­vel­ops the re­main­ing acreage with be­tween 50 to 70 small, two- and three-bed­room cot­tages.

The de­vel­op­ers plan to have a 70 per­cent tree canopy, man­age storm wa­ter on site and cre­ate “Learn­ing Labs” and walk­ing trails within the wet­lands, ac­cord­ing to its pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial.

They also have the goal of be­com­ing the first pri­vately de­vel­oped hous­ing com­mu­nity in Ta­coma to meet the LEED-Plat­inum stan­dards for en­ergy con­ser­va­tion and sus­tain­abil­ity and would be­come the first LEED-Plat­inum cer­ti­fied hous­ing com­mu­nity of sin­gle-fam­ily de­tached homes in the city.

The de­vel­op­ers went through the city’s preap­pli­ca­tion process and ex­plained their plans for a hous­ing devel­op­ment with a small foot­print.

“More nar­row roads and less im­per­vi­ous sur­faces and more walk­ing trails,” Rehe said.

The of­fi­cial ground­break­ing was Dec. 1, with the site de­vel­op­ers and City Coun­cil­man Chris Beale among those at­tend­ing. Con­struc­tion on site should start to take shape in Jan­uary.

Those in­ter­ested in buy­ing a home can ap­ply at https://green­har­bor com­mu­ni­ties.com/ap­ply/ You must be ap­proved for fi­nanc­ing and ap­pli­cants will be con­sid­ered on a first-come-first-served ba­sis.

“We are selling the houses in a dif­fer­ent way,” Rehe said. “Each size house will have a set price. Once a per­son or fam­ily qual­i­fies (based on in­come and work lo­ca­tion) and is qual­i­fied for lend­ing, they will be given a tour of the site so they can select their lo­ca­tion and house plan.

“There will not be bid­ding be­tween buy­ers for a lo­ca­tion or home. It will be first qual­i­fied, first buy for as long as we have in­ven­tory. This is just an­other tool to keep prices down.”

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