HRB now looking to partner with Bainbridge businessman on redevelopment of 550 Madison Apartments property

Housing Resources Bainbridge is taking a new look at how to save the affordable housing units at the 550 Madison Apartments.

The 13-unit apartment complex on Madison Avenue is owned by Housing Kitsap, a Silverdale-based housing authority that provides low-income housing to more than 900 families across the county.

Housing Kitsap began efforts to sell the apartment building, one of three properties it owns on Bainbridge that offers housing to low- and moderate-income families, earlier this year in hopes that the sale would provide a much-needed infusion of revenue for the cash-strapped agency.

News of the sale created much controversy on Bainbridge, however, as more than a dozen private interests expressed interest in buying the building — a move that would likely lead to redevelopment of the property with market-rate housing. Many on Bainbridge were worried about the loss of affordable housing on an island where low-cost housing is rare, and the median home price is well over $800,000 and apartment rentals start at a low end of $1,500 a month.

Housing Kitsap was preparing to sell the property to Mike Burns, a Bainbridge businessman and developer, for $2,031,000 before public outcry prompted housing commissioners to call for a 30-day timeout so Housing Resources Bainbridge (HRB) could raise funds to match the offer made by Burns.

After much public criticism, though, Burns withdrew his offer and said he didn’t want to compete against HRB — which had made a $1.5 million offer — for the property.

HRB announced Thursday it had received the inspection report on 550 Madison Apartments.

According to the 42-page inspection report, detailed earlier in the Review, the apartment complex is in poor shape and is of “marginal quality for age and type” and repairs to the apartment complex may cost as much as building a new structure from scratch.

Following news of the apartment complex’s many problems, HRB is now moving away from an outright purchase of the building and is instead seeking a partnership arrangement with Burns’ company, Madison Ave Development, for development of the property.

In a Thursday email to the community, HRB said a partnership could “protect the current residents at 550 Madison in the short- and long-term” and “provide much needed units of housing — both affordable and market-rate.”

“HRB and Madison Ave Development are moving ahead together with a spirit of cooperation and in good faith,” HRB said in its update.

“Many details still need to be worked out with many questions unanswered. Putting together a housing development and creating a partnership to do this is neither an easy nor quick task. However, we do intend to meet the deadline of July 23 when the Board of Housing Kitsap next meets.”

HRB said it had received offers of donations to save the 550 Madison Apartments, but repeated that the nonprofit was not yet ready to accept such offers of support.

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