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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Martindale to get $2.5 million state loan

Washington state will loan the Spokane Housing Authority more than $2.5 million to help turn the old Hillyard High School into apartments for homeless and low-income residents.

The loan is among some $22.5 million in loans and grants from the state Commerce Department’s Housing Trust Fund announced Wednesday by Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office.

“We’re very happy about that,” Steve Cervantes, executive director of the Spokane Housing Authority, said. “We have all the elements to make this work.”

The project will restore much needed housing and the construction will provide economic stimulus in the community, he said.

The Housing Authority and Beacon Development Group of Seattle plan to renovate the Martindale Apartments at 5313 N. Regal, putting in a total of 51 units at an estimated cost of $11.4 million. The facility should open by the end of 2011, Cervantes said.
Plans call for 38 units to go to homeless persons, including 26 homeless veterans, and 12 to households with incomes below 40 percent of the median family income.

The Martindale was forced to close in May 2008 after the owner failed to pay utility bills to the city and Avista and an audit revealed problems with the rents being charged to residents receiving government assistance. That forced the city to scramble to find low-income housing at a time when the local vacancy rate was extremely low.

Built in 1912 as Hillyard High School, the building is on federal, state and local historic registers. It was converted to apartments in the 1940s and renamed the Martindale. It fell into disrepair over the decades and was purchased for $750,000 in 2005 with help from the Spokane Community Housing Association. It has been vacant since the last tenants were evicted in mid 2008.

The project is getting a historic tax credit and will preserve much of the old school structure in public areas, such as the 15-foot ceilings in the wide school hallways, Cevantes said. The Housing Authority is getting input from the local neighborhood organization on a new name for the facility.

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