A buzzing drone, dozens of spectators and a small army of workers in yellow safety vests were all part of the spectacle of moving a two-story, four-unit apartment building from the Port Townsend …
A buzzing drone, dozens of spectators and a small army of workers in yellow safety vests were all part of the spectacle of moving a two-story, four-unit apartment building from the Port Townsend waterfront to a plot of land near the Grace Lutheran Church on May 11.
Just a day before, the home had been floating offshore of the Port Townsend waterfront on a Harken Towing barge that was towed by the tug D.D. Catherwood.
Nick Carpenter with the Nickel Bros. moving company, which did the moving work, said the crew had four large 40-foot ramps to get the truck and apartment off the barge and onto land near the Pourhouse along Decatur Street. Carpenter said the drone was used to record a video of the move.
The house was moved up Decatur Street, then west along Sims Way to 12th Street to Landes Street, to 19th, Blaine, and Walker streets to its final location behind the Grace Lutheran Church, which is at 1120 Walker St.
Streets were blocked off and power was temporarily cut as utility workers disconnected power lines so that the fourplex wouldn’t tear them down as it rolled along.
Plastic banners were attached to the home. One read “Olympic Housing Trust” and the other read “Homeward Bound Community Land Trust: Providing permanently affordable homeownership opportunities for the communities of Jefferson and Clallam Counties.”
While there were many onlookers taking photos, many of them posting to Facebook, Eric Elliott with the Boat Haven fuel dock, said the timing of the power outage couldn’t have been worse as that day was one of just a few days open for halibut fishing.
Fortunately, Elliott said Tuesday, the power was only out for two and a half hours, and that the tides weren’t cooperating with fishermen anyway, so only a few people were inconvenienced.
“It turned out to be not as big of a deal as I was afraid it would be,” he said, adding that he had been “slammed” with work on previous big fishing days like that.
‘BAFFLED’ IN VICTORIA
Across the strait in Victoria, a new 53-unit condominium is to be built on the plot of land where the fourplex had been. According to the Victoria Times-Colonist, the mayor of Victoria was “very disappointed” and “baffled” that her city lost the affordable fourplex to Port Townsend.
The building had been located at 1041 Oliphant Ave. in Victoria.
The Port Townsend City Council acted quickly to snap up the fourplex. The council loaned up to $250,000 to the Olympic Housing Trust (also known as Homeward Bound) in order to make the project possible.
Carpenter said if the fourplex hadn’t been moved – and quickly – it would have been destroyed.
“A lot of times we are racing against the clock of demolition,” Carpenter said.
“It’s not just large buildings; we move affordable recycled normal-sized homes every day of the week.”
Carpenter said the older homes are cheaper and better quality than new ones. People love the older Craftsman-style homes, he said.
Victoria’s loss is Port Townsend’s affordable housing gain. Earlier this month, the Port Townsend City Council transferred ownership of a surplus city property near the church to the Homeward Bound housing trust (Olympic Housing Trust) for permanent use as affordable housing. The land was valued at $500,000 - $600,000, and was sold to the trust for just $1. Deed restrictions mean that if anyone were to use the property for anything other than affordable housing that the land would revert back to city ownership.
The plan is to add four studio apartments in a daylight basement that is planned to be built underneath the apartment, making it an eight-unit apartment building.
The total cost of the finished apartment including transportation across the water and the construction of four studio apartments is estimated to be $475,000.
Rents for the two-bedroom 900-square-foot units might be initially priced at $900-$1,100 per month, but it’s hoped that the prices can be lowered. The price for the studios might be $600 per month.
Pastor Coe Hutchison with Grace Lutheran Church supported the project.
“Like all of you, we are very aware of the needs in the community for affordable housing and certainly support that,” he said.