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Council OKs Quay funding
Though $3.95 million contribution still hinges on coming details.
Last week they hinted.
During Wednesdays budget meeting, City Councilors offered no uncertainty about whether the city should help fund the purchase and preservation of the Quay Bainbridge Apartments.
This is worth the money were putting out when you consider what were getting back, Councilman Bill Knobloch said.
While some councilors were more reserved in their support, all but one Councilman Kjell Stoknes agreed Wednesday to commit $3.95 million toward the purchase of the Quay, a 71-unit complex near Waterfront Park that has garnered the support of affordable housing advocates.
Following the councils vote, Mayor Darlene Kordonowy announced that owners of the Quay who had already been approached with a $12.6 million offer from developers had signed a purchase and sale agreement with local housing agencies and the city.
Still, the purchase is far from secure. The citys commitment to the project is contingent on several as yet unfinished details, among them an independent appraisal and cash flow analysis. Should the deal prove to be a bad one, those negotiating say it wont go through.
The citys money $1.5 million would be needed in 2008 would be pooled with $1 million raised by private donors to finance the transaction, with additional funding from grants and other sources expected to come later.
The citys contribution would come via bonds, though the Quays inclusion in next years budget wont be finalized until Dec. 12, when the budget is slated for approval.
The Quay purchase has gained traction over the past several weeks, with increasing pleas from residents and supporters during public comment periods at recent council meetings.
Local housing agencies have been working with the Lutheran Alliance to Create Housing to strike a deal for the complex, and those involved have reiterated several times that the timeline is tight. They say that without help from the city, the Quay would be converted to market rate housing, resulting in the displacement of most Quay residents.
Stoknes, the lone dissenter Wednesday, said he knew his vote wouldnt be popular, but he didnt think the deal was right for the city.
What I think were dealing with here are matters of the heart, he said. While Im being tugged at the heart too, I have to ask, is it the right priority of government I dont think it is. I just cant support this. I wish I could, but I cant.
Other councilors were somewhere in between.
Im torn in supporting this, said Councilman Nezam Tooloee, who in spite of his support said market-based incentives, rather than individual purchases like the Quay, are a more effective way of addressing affordable housing issues on the island.
As proposed, the deal would preserve 51 units at the Quay as affordable rentals; seven of the remaining 20 units would be sold as affordable housing, with the remainder sold at market rate to help fund the purchase.
Councils support came with one other caveat the city wont make any other contributions to affordable housing for three years.
Councilman Bob Scales said chances like the Quay are few and far between anyway.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, he said. Theres no cheap way to do it. Im comfortable making this choice at this time.
Said Councilwoman Debbie Vancil: I dont see this as charity its a social investment.