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Funds would boost housing

Wed., Nov. 2, 2011, midnight

Spokane-area projects recommended for $9.7 million from state coffers

OLYMPIA – More than $9.7 million in state funds is being offered to housing projects for low-income families, seniors and the disabled in the Spokane area.

The state Department of Commerce said it will recommend that total for six separate projects in the county from the state’s Housing Trust Fund. The money will help finance projects at a former Spokane farmers market on Sprague and an apartment building in Hillyard, as well as housing for seniors on the South Hill and in Spokane Valley.

Spokane projects received the lion’s share of money set aside for urban areas outside King County, Chris Venne of Community Frameworks said. “It’s the best we’ve done in as long as I can remember.”

Community Frameworks received $1.8 million for the Pioneer Park Place rehabilitation on Seventh Avenue between Washington and Stevens streets. It would have 29 units for working families and special-needs residents.

The building near Lewis and Clark High School has been gutted to its columns and beams, and the project is still seeking money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and tax credits.

The nonprofit also received $700,000 for the rehabilitation of the Hoffman Apartments, a 16-unit building at Hoffman Avenue and Market Street. The building is occupied and the project hopes to keep “affordable, workforce housing” in Hillyard, Venne said. “It’s quite diverse at the moment and we hope to keep it that way.”

Community Frameworks is working with Spokane United Methodist Church to develop 40 housing units for seniors for the next phase of Appleway Court, at Appleway Boulevard and Farr Road.

Nearly $3 million is recommended for redevelopment into residences and commercial space of the old farmers market and Rocky Café on Sprague Avenue near Helena Street, just east of the University District. Darryl Reber of Inland Empire Residential Resources said work on the four-story, mixed-use project could start as early as December “if the weather holds” and be finished by August.

Plans call for commercial and office space totaling about 5,000 square feet on the first floor and 37 living units, some for seniors or the disabled, on the upper three floors.

The tentative name of the development is The Union, and commercial space could include stores, restaurants or professional offices. “We’re looking at all options,” Reber said.

Spokane Housing Ventures would receive $1.5 million toward rehabilitating some existing apartments at Clare House, on the Palouse Highway south of the Spokane city limits, and building 61 new units nearby, said Dave Roberts, a senior developer with the nonprofit.

The total cost of that work is about $16 million, and like most other projects, the development is seeking other funding and tax credits. If those come through, new construction could start in March and finish at the end of 2012.

Also on the list of recommended projects for the Housing Trust fund is $623,000 for a 15-unit development proposed by Spokane Mental Health, the Sylvan Place Apartments on Francis Avenue in northeast Spokane.

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