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Redmond takes over 100-unit affordable housing project following Kenmore balk

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(The Center Square) – The Redmond City Council by a 5-1 vote approved a land transfer to Plymouth Housing in order to create affordable housing within the city.

The city council’s Tuesday action allows the nonprofit to develop a six-story building with 100 affordable units and ground-floor commercial space.

The city originally purchased the 25,928 square foot plot of land in 2019 for $5.5 million. According to the city, it is now assessed at $4.6 million.

Plymouth Housing’s project needed quick action from Redmond to support the work as a result of Kenmore balking on a development agreement with the organization last month. The Kenmore City Council ultimately rejected the proposal despite securing more than $30 million in funding for the project.

Kenmore originally intended to allocate $3.2 million in funds for the development of this affordable housing in partnership with Plymouth. Redmond has already set the $3.2 million in allocated affordable housing resources to supplant the Kenmore funds.

Notably, Redmond already dedicated $10 million towards increasing affordable housing capacity in its 2023-2024 budget.

“This is one of the city’s top priorities and we believe every person in our community has a right to affordable housing,” Redmond Mayor Angela Birney said in a news release. “We’re encouraged that this project has the opportunity to help those who need it and appreciate the support of everyone who has helped to make this happen.”

The project is using a combination of funding sources ranging from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, the National Housing Trust and Washington State Department of Commerce, to direct appropriations from the state, Plymouth Housing, and A Regional Coalition for Housing.

Redmond City Councilmember Jeralee Anderson was the lone no vote on the land transfer. Anderson said she was “uncomfortable” with the vote due to the significant value of land that is being transferred without much public input.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, some Redmond residents in attendance took exception to a comment made by councilmember Jessica Forsythe that implied the council provided enough time for public input on the affordable housing project.

“I think our council has done the work to put in the regulations to ensure that there will be robust public involvement in this project,” Forsythe said during the meeting as laughter erupted from the crowd.