Cherry street apartments cost rising, completion delayed

Carmen Jaramillo
cjaramillo@ptleader.com
Posted 11/20/19

One of Port Townsend’s first forays into solving the affordable housing shortage is making progress, despite delays and a final pricetag three times what was expected when developers moved a finished building from Victoria, B.C., to a new site in Port Townsend.

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Cherry street apartments cost rising, completion delayed

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One of Port Townsend’s first forays into solving the affordable housing shortage is making progress, despite delays and a final pricetag three times what was expected when developers moved a finished building from Victoria, B.C., to a new site in Port Townsend.

Managed by Homeward Bound, the community land trust, and funded in part by the City of Port Townsend, the Cherry Street apartment project is making headway.

The occupancy date has been moved to December 2020.

The rising costs are associated with many snags the project has hit, as developers carry out their plan to build an additional four units underneath the building.

Board shake-ups, construction delays and unexpected costs saw the building sitting on blocks for two years, before it was finally lowered onto its new foundation in June.

At the outset, in May 2017, developers told The Leader it would cost $475,000 total move the former “Carmel Building” and place it atop ground floor living spaces.

The City of Port Townsend loaned Homeward Bound $250,000 to purchase and transport the building.

Four months later, then-City Manager David Timmons said the cost of the project had risen 42 percent, to an estimated $673,000.

Now Homeward Bound estimates the final cost will be almost three times that.

At the Nov. 12 City Council meeting, Homeward Bound board member and local real estate broker Paul Rice said the project had been working with a total budget of $834,000 loaned by the city, but he now estimates the project will cost another $1.3 million to be completed, not including the $509,292 already spent.

Homeward Bound board member Jesse Thomas said in an interview that part of the reason previous estimates were so low was because of inadequate partnerships.

Rice said costs rose as project managers discovered additional work that had to be done, including installation of sprinkler systems, replacement windows and insulation, as well as site infrastructure and street work.

The project is 75 percent of the way to completion, he said.

“We want you to know,” Rice told the City Council, “that regardless of how that number makes you feel, we are committed to completing this project.”

Thomas said he felt the most recent iteration of the Homeward Bound board has been more effective at meeting its goals than previous boards.

One reason, Thomas said, is because of an increase in board members with experience in design and construction. He said, from here, there is a clear path to the finish line.

While the estimated additional funding is high, Thomas said there is potential through value engineering and the competitive bidding process to trim costs.

Additionally, he said the organization is envisioning once the building is complete, building an additional five or six units on the property to maximize the city’s investment.

“It’s really important the Jefferson County have a community land trust for the future and we’re looking to have the community help us achieve those goals.” Thomas said.

The next Homeward Bound board meeting is Dec. 4 at the Gardiner Community Center at 5:30 p.m.

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