UPDATE, 9:30 a.m. WEDNESDAY: The Leader received a notice Wednesday from the City of Port Townsend that while the four-plex is set to arrive via barge on Wednesday, May 10, it is set to be moved to …
UPDATE, 9:30 a.m. WEDNESDAY: The Leader received a notice Wednesday from the City of Port Townsend that while the four-plex is set to arrive via barge on Wednesday, May 10, it is set to be moved to its new home on Cherry Street on 9 a.m. Thursday, May 11. Rolling power outages are expected. See map of the move attached to this story.
Port Townsend residents may see a four-unit, two-story apartment building being hauled along city streets on Wednesday, May 10 at about 3 or 4 p.m.
If all goes well, the Nickel Bros. moving company will barge the building to Decatur Street, then move it up Kearney Street to a wooded lot north of the Grace Lutheran Church, where the plan is to use it as affordable housing.
The Port Townsend City Council on Monday night unanimously approved a resolution that transferred ownership of the surplus city property to the Homeward Bound housing trust (Olympic Housing Trust) for permanent use as affordable housing. The land, valued at $500,000-$600,000, was sold to the trust for $1. Deed restrictions mean that if anyone were to use the property for anything other than affordable housing, the land would revert to city ownership, city officials said.
The church is located at 1120 Walker St. The city plans to grade a nearby lot in the 100 block of Cherry Street and move the house into position atop cribbing. The city then plans to build a foundation underneath the building.
City Manager David Timmons said the severe need for affordable housing has long been established. What has been lacking – until this week – is action to address the problem.
He said the first housing-needs assessment in this area was conducted in 1991 and that studies years ago found a shortage of safe and sanitary affordable housing for the elderly and poor.
Timmons said his priority for the remainder of his term as city manager is to work to make affordable housing a reality.
“This is a gateway project … it should be the beginning of several.
“The need is not going to be met by one or two homes; it’s going to have to be met by hundreds,” he said. That includes several types of housing.
One part of making affordable housing happen was rebooting the Homeward Bound housing trust.
‘OUT OF THE BLUE’
The Victoria fourplex was a surprise opportunity that appeared out of the blue. Developers in Victoria had planned to demolish the building, but the Port Townsend City Council last month quickly loaned $250,000 to the housing trust to purchase the property and arrange to barge it to Port Townsend.
“I saw it as an opportunity we had to seize,” Timmons said.
During public comment, eight people spoke in favor of the property transfer and no one spoke against it.
Penny Westerfield, council president of Grace Lutheran Church, said her church “recognizes the significant need for affordable housing, and this project will help meet that need. The fourplex and future units will bring us new neighbors, whom we will welcome. And we believe this is a positive project for our community.”
The move of the home made international news, Timmons noted.
“We were featured in Victoria’s newspaper. It turns out that the local community leadership there was aghast that they learned of this plan to bring the building here and why couldn’t they have come up with something like that?”
Timmons joked that since Port Townsend is a “welcoming city,” “we’ll take all refugees,” even refugee apartment buildings.