The Vancouver Housing Authority (VHA) is eyeing an 80-unit multifamily affordable housing development in Battle Ground, having approved purchase of the land late last month.
The VHA Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of 4.37 acres of land off of Southeast Clark Avenue in Battle Ground during its meeting Sept. 28. The approval follows a similar vote by the Battle Ground City Council earlier this year.
Vancouver Housing Authority Executive Director Roy Johnson said the agency had become aware of the property earlier this year. The property caught the agency’s eye as it was difficult to find acreage in Battle Ground, especially with multifamily residential zoning.
Johnson said VHA had previously approached the former owner, RKC Enterprises, with the potential of co-developing the parcel, noting it had already built a few units nearby. Eventually, RKC decided not to move forward with a development, selling the property for $1.49 million.
VHA will pay for it in part with a Washington State Housing and Finance Commission low-interest loan, borrowing $800,000 with the remainder being paid out of the agency’s own funds, Johnson said.
VHA has developed other properties in Battle Ground, though only one, Mill Creek Apartments, is not age-restricted. Alongside the 50-unit Mill Creek development, the Clark Avenue property would more than double low-income housing in the city. Johnson said that Mill Creek Apartments was typically fully occupied with a waiting list, which greater low-income housing stock could help to alleviate.
Johnson said the planned development was on the smaller size of their usual projects, noting the last similar development in Vancouver was about 150 units. Though the land is purchased, Johnson said the agency wouldn’t likely move into the project design phase for a few years.
Johnson said that the parcel was in close proximity to schools and other services, adding it was in an area that would likely see redevelopment in the coming years. He said it’s been an interest of his for several years to be able to work on a new project in Battle Ground.
“I’m just really happy that we are able to go forward with (the project),” Johnson said.
Battle Ground Mayor Mike Dalesandro said that the development would be a benefit for the city, pointing to the lack of affordable housing regionally. He said Battle Ground is no different. He recalled a presentation by VHA when he said he was shocked by the “dozens and dozens” of people waitlisted on the Mill Creek development.
“We want to be able to have a diverse housing base in the community,” Dalesandro said, adding it had been one of the council’s goals in the past. “Any time we have the opportunity to have this kind of project come into the city it’s a good fit for us.”
Johnson said that although there are people who use affordable housing vouchers, the developments in Battle Ground were the only ones specifically for that kind of housing in North County. Dalesandro said it made sense given the number of services available in the city, mentioning public transportation and medical services among others.
Dalesandro said the project would also lead to infrastructure improvements in the area, benefitting adjacent properties.
“I think overall it’s a positive impact in our community,” Dalesandro said.