Seattle - Construction at a Hope VI housing project in Seattle is continuing because of money supplied through an ARRA stimulus grant.

Tamarack Housing is creating 350 jobs in a low-income area of Seattle.
Image courtesy of the Seattle Housing Authority
Tamarack Housing is creating 350 jobs in a low-income area of Seattle.

Construction of Tamarack Place, an 83-unit low income housing building started up again in September, 2009, because of a $13.5 million in stimulus funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, given to the Seattle Housing Authority. Over $7 million will fund construction of Tamarack Place, a low income apartment complex; $6.5 million will fund infrastructure on the northern portion of the site. The allocation was announced in February 2009. Construction will be completed on the project in 2011.

The project is located in Rainer Vista, a low income housing development initially being rebuilt with HOPE IV money.

Tamarack Place, an apartment complex on the site, was stalled because development conditions that limited buildable space and the overheated construction costs created by the housing bubble, says Virgina Felton, SHA spokesperson. Private and public funding dried up as the bond and low-income housing tax-credit markets crashed along with the nationwide economic slowdown.

“This funding allows us to make up for the loss of funds caused by the economic downturn. Now we can take advantage of reduced construction costs to complete this much-needed affordable housing,” says Rebecca Whitney, SHA senior housing developer.

Funding requirements add to the paperwork for general contractor Walsh Construction. “We have three different lenders and they all want different information,” says Mike Clancy, project manager with Walsh Construction.

The four story wood frame building will include 10,000 sq ft of retail space. Contractors are now drilling 420 helical piles to stabilize the ground.

“We don’t have load bearing soil until about 30 feet down,” says “The piles are 5.5 inches in diameter with a helix on the end,” says Clancy. “We drill them in until they meet resistance.”

One of the 350 construction jobs created by the funding is Clancy’s. “Our main office is in Portland, but the construction market there is not as vibrant as it is in Seattle. I volunteered to move to Seattle so I wouldn’t get laid off and so people in Portland could keep their jobs there,” says Clancy.

HUD grants also specify that the contractor hire as many people as possible from the immediate neighborhood. “This is providing training opportunities for lots of low income people,” says Clancy.

Architects Tonkin Hoyne, Seattle, the design firm in charge of the project, went to a 4 day work week in Fall of 2008, because of the slow market, says Ann Williamson, the project architect. “Partially because of this work, we’re all back to a five-day work week.”