Removing toxic threats opens the door to put properties back into use. We are making it easier to redevelop once-contaminated properties into housing that communities can afford. These investments help reduce the gentrification and displacement of low income communities that often follows site cleanup and redevelopment.
Why is Ecology supporting affordable housing developments?
Washington is in dire need of affordable housing across the state. Contamination, or even the suspicion of contamination, drives up the costs of housing development. The high cost leaves little incentive for developers to build affordable housing.
We awarded a planning grant to the Port of Bellingham to assess approximately three acres within the Georgia Pacific West-Bellingham cleanup site near downtown Bellingham for potentially building affordable housing units, work-live spaces, ground-floor commercial spaces, a community kitchen, and a public open space.
Grand Street Commons is a joint venture development that will remediate and redevelop a 3.3 acre site as a transit-oriented mix of affordable and market rate housing within a quarter mile of the future Judkins Park (East Link) Light Rail Station. The redevelopment will also include retail space and underground parking. Implementation of the Cleanup Action Plan began in the summer of 2021. Ecology is overseeing the cleanup of this area and has awarded a grant to support cleanup activities.
The Mount Baker Housing Authority was the Ecology's first partnership with a nonprofit developer. In 2016, Ecology and MBHA entered into a legal agreement called a Prospective Purchaser Consent Decree to investigate and clean up five properties in the intersection of South McClellan and MLK Way South in Seattle.
The overall development is called the Gateway Project, and the buildings will be called the Maddux. These properties are within two contaminated sites that are being cleaned up redevelopment into affordable housing. The Mt. Baker Properties site will be developed into Maddux North, and the former site of a Phillips 66 gas station will become Maddux South. Once the housing is built, the neighborhood will be transformed to mixed-use retail and residential space — allowing residents to live near where they work.
We awarded a planning grant to GardnerGlobal Inc. to support environmental due-diligence and community engagement activities for a potential affordable housing redevelopment project known as Skyway Towncenter . The project location is part of a contaminated site currently listed as Boathouse Inc Renton Skyway. Available information shows that the site was contaminated by solvents from a dry cleaner.
We awarded the Seattle Chinatown International District and Public Development Authority two planning grants totaling $450,000 to examine the cleanup needs and development potential of a cleanup site in the Seattle Chinatown International District — Goodwill Corp Dearborn Campus.
In addition to the usual risks of redevelopment, cleaning up contaminated sites can be a complex process with considerable risk. The cost and time associated with cleaning up a site is often poorly understood; as a result, many sites are left vacant or underused for years, even decades. Supporting cleanups for affordable housing helps make sure the cleanup gets done, protecting the community’s health and the environment.
Affordable housing pilot projects
We created a permanent, competitive grant program specifically for affordable housing cleanups. Ecology’s Affordable Housing Cleanup Grant Program will provide grants for planning and cleanup of contaminated sites intended for affordable housing development. The program will support communities by:
- Cleaning up environmental contamination for residential use.
- Providing meaningful community engagement that informs and shapes decisions throughout the cleanup process.
- Integrating longer-term goals of shared economic and community asset building across a diverse population.
Affordable housing cleanup grants
The first solicitation for affordable housing cleanup projects ended March 8, 2022. Projects receiving grant funding for the 2023–2025 biennium will be announced in 2023.
In the meantime, we’re helping local governments and developers identify resources that are already available to keep affordable housing projects moving forward. If you would like assistance on a potential project, please contact us.
Affordable housing planning grants
The grant program also includes grants for planning affordable housing cleanup projects. In the summer of 2023, we will solicit proposals for planning grants.
Planning grants help developers better understand if a property is suitable for residential use before redeveloping the property.