The Anacortes Family Center is planning what would be the first new affordable housing units here in more than a decade in a new building proposed for 27th St. just west of Commercial Ave.
The organization, which already operates emergency and transitional housing, went to the city with a preliminary proposal for a three-story or four-story building where two houses current exist.
The new building would be cited next door to AFC’s transitional housing and across the street from their emergency shelter.
The City Council heard the informal proposal at its Monday night meeting and gave assurances they would help the project move ahead after city Planning Director Don Measamer said, “with a couple of head nods, we could get started on code language and processes.”
Mayor Laurie Gere said the lack of affordable housing, “has gone beyond a crisis situation in our community.”
The family center already has private donor funds to pay the majority cost of building, according to Johnson, who added they also have an offer of a donation for all pre-development work. Significant delays by the city in permitting the project could jeopardize the funding.
Council member Liz Lovelett said, “Generally, we don’t go through hoops for any old project.” But, she said, “There are so few opportunities to develop affordable units.”
Dustin Johnson, the Executive Director of the family center, described a plan for a building which would house up to 19 affordable apartments, with five studios, ten one-bedroom and four two-bedroom units.
The proposal has some hurdles to overcome, which may be why the shelter came to the city informally. The hurdles include a 35-foot height limit where AFC wants a 50-foot building; a reduction on the number of required parking places; and a waiver of some fees to help reduce development costs, along with other needed code changes.
City Attorney Darcy Swetnam outlined several options for how the city could move ahead. In the end, the Council opted to amend Code to allow project. This could change existing code for R4A use zone; link changes to affordable housing; allow necessary changes (height, density, parking) w/in proximity to Commercial Ave.