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City proposes affordable housing redevelopment in Magnolia

The 28-acre site borders Discovery Park in northwest Seattle with former military buildings standing vacant. (KOMO Photo)

SEATTLE (KOMO) – For the second time in a decade, the City of Seattle is considering redevelopment options at the Fort Lawton Army Reserve site in Magnolia.

“We hope this can be a way that we can work on our housing affordability and homelessness crisis, and help to create more park space as our city grows,” said Emily Alvarado, Manager of Policy and Equitable Development in the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing.

The 28-acre site borders Discovery Park in northwest Seattle with former military buildings standing vacant.

In 2005, the U.S. Army tasked the City of Seattle to prepare and implement a redevelopment plan.

Local Magnolia neighbors challenged the City’s initial redevelopment plan in 2009, suing the City for not complying with the State Environmental Policy Act.

The courts ruled in favor of the Magnolia Neighborhood Planning Council and upheld its decision upon appeal.

Now the City is resubmitting a development plan, Alvarado saying this time abiding by SEMA and slightly tweaking its proposal to not include a plan of market-rate housing.

Alvarado told KOMO Monday the City’s vision is to build 235 units: 85 units for homeless seniors, 75 units for low-income affordable rental, 50 units for self-help homeless ownership.

“It’s be a mix of row houses, town homes, and low rise buildings,” said Alvarado.

Magnolia neighbors say they are once again concerned with the process.

“A large majority of our community has a lot of questions,” said Magnolia resident Joni Reeves.

Reeves cited traffic concerns should such a large population move into the suburban neighborhood.

“My concern is that we’re going to build this development and it’s not going to perform as the city has hoped because of the location that it’s in,” added Reeves.

The City implemented a similar redevelopment project in 1999 to a former U.S. Navy site in a Sandpoint neighborhood, neighboring Magnuson Park.

“It’s been a very successful model serving low income people for many years,” said Alvarado.

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