News

Quay purchase gets big push from the public

Advocates ask the city to chip in $4 million to save the apartments.

By CHAD SCHUSTER

Staff Writer

For months, City Councilors have been hearing about the Quay Bainbridge Apartments, touted as one of Winslow’s few remaining bastions of affordable housing.

On Wednesday, the Council heard what many already suspected: the Quay’s fate, likely to be decided soon, will hinge on the city’s willingness to help fund its purchase.

“I know it’s going to be a hard decision for you,” Housing Resources Board Executive Director Carl Florea said Wednesday. “But if we can step up and do this I’m confident that in five or 10 years we’ll be saying it’s the best money we’ve spent.”

Though a deal hasn’t yet made its way to the council, the city will be asked to contribute $3.95 million to the $12.6 million purchase of the Quay, according to a proposal submitted to the city this week by the HRB and the Lutheran Alliance To Create Housing, an organization with which the HRB has been working to strike a deal for the 71-unit complex.

If approved, the plan would preserve 51 of those units as affordable rentals. The remaining 20 units would be sold as homes, seven of which would be designated as affordable housing.

Thirteen units would be sold at market rate to help fund the preservation of the other units.

Located on several separate parcels near Waterfront Park, the Quay garnered the attention of affordable housing advocates following word that developers had offered to buy the property.

If the complex were to be converted to market rate housing, Quay residents would be displaced from their homes and, some say, the island.

“This is the only place I can afford to live in this community,” said Susan James, a Quay resident and school counselor at Poulsbo Elementary School. “I feel at home here and I don’t want to leave.”

James was one of two Quay residents who on Wednesday pleaded for the council’s support.

Several other community members spoke at the meeting as well, including Don Mayer, former pastor of Eagle Harbor Congregational Church, who said that congregation’s council recently passed a resolution supporting preservation of the Quay.

With rents that top out around $1,000 per month, the Quay houses tenants of widely varying ages and vocations, according to a  recent survey conducted by the Community Housing Coalition.

Among other things, the survey found that the average tenant at the Quay lives there for more than eight years. The complex also is home to several senior citizens, families and single women.

CHC Director Kat Gjovik said that knowing the demographics of the Quay is important not only because many islanders have expressed a desire to maintain community diversity, but also because it in part determines what kind of funding might be available to help with its purchase.

The HRB and LATCH have been in ongoing talks with the owners – described by Florea as a large, diverse group of families – about matching the offer made by developers.

Private donors have raised nearly half of the $1 million they hope to contribute to the Quay’s purchase and preservation. That, combined with city and other funding would serve as “bridge funding” to secure the property until the rest of the money could be raised.   

The proposal will be reviewed by the city’s Housing Trust Fund Executive Committee and presented to the council, perhaps as soon as at its Nov. 28 meeting. Should the plan be approved, funding could be spread over two years, according to city planner Brent Butler.

Under the terms of the deal, the 51 rental units would be available to households that earn less than $39,420. The seven affordable units for purchase would be for households earning between $40,000 and $103,000 annually.

Winslow attorney Bruce Weiland, who is helping with the preservation effort, said saving the Quay wouldn’t just be a boon for affordable housing on the island; it would prevent “another mass condo project” from sprouting up downtown.

“This is really doable,” he said. “There’s no waiting, no planning – we now have a moment to act.”

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