The new triangle construction at 45th and Midvale, with moniker LIV Wallingford (1240 N. Midvale), is about 2 months away from completion. The building is owned and developed by PAAR Development. The four story mixed-use building consists of three ground floor commercial spaces and 30 studio apartments. PAAR Development is advertising the new studio units as affordable and geared towards students/workforce.
The studio units are very small with an average of 285 square feet. By comparison, micro efficiencies (a.k.a. aPodments) are now required to be 220 square feet. Unlike micro efficiencies, each studio has its own full galley kitchen. Two studios have private patios while all others (including the commercial tenants) have access to shared patios and a large rooftop deck.
I, for one, am getting tired of the oversupply of vacant retail spaces that plague many of the new mixed-use buildings. It is such a waste to knock down buildings containing local business only to have vacant commercial real estate take their place. Especially when the new commercial space is completely unaffordable to the types of local businesses that were displaced.
Instead of sitting empty, ground floor commercial space at LIV Wallingford is already filling up. Off the Wall School of Music, located across the street, will be the anchor tenant in a 1,300 square foot suite. Off the Wall’s owner, Chris, is excited about the new building and the opportunity to expand his music school. The folks at Off the Wall were involved with this development project very early on, starting with attending design review meetings at the Wallingford Community Council.
PAAR Development itself is relocating from West Seattle into the second of three commercial spaces in LIV Wallingford. I met with founding partner, Joe Paar, who offered me a tour of the new construction and discussed this new building and his company. Joe emphasized that PAAR Development is a small business that is focused on the local community and neighborhood. This new development is not the work of a big out-of-town firm. From PAAR Development’s website:
PAAR Development, LLC is a boutique development company based in Seattle, Washington. Currently, the firm is focused on Built Green Four Star apartment communities. PAAR Development specializes in complex sites in great neighborhoods to create meaningful, community-oriented projects.
We believe that transit-oriented developments are the solution to density. This is why all of our apartments are built near Rapid Ride stops or Light Rail stations. We have experience in most size and types of projects and strongly value our relationships with business partners. We are dedicated to the sustainable development and all of our projects exceed Built Green Four Star standards.
Joe explained a couple of the design elements that tie this new development to the neighborhood. The recently installed sign on the exterior of the building is a nod to the iconic sign atop QFC. Lobby seating will be made of reclaimed pews from neighborhood church Seattle First Church of Nazarene.
Currently, there is just one 300 square foot commercial space remaining. Parr Development is still looking for a one or two person professional company in Wallingford to lease the space.
MFTE in Wallingford
LIV Wallingford is enrolled in the Multifamily Tax Exemption program (MFTE). The city’s MFTE program provides tax breaks for developers who set aside affordable units for qualifying families (and individuals) that have their rent capped according to a formula established by the city. Maximum rent limits are calculated based on family size and income. The maximum rent appears to be capped at an affordable 22-25% of the family’s total income. A breakdown of the city’s income and rent limits can be found here. PAAR Development has set aside 20% of the studios in LIV Wallingford (6 units) as MFTE-eligible.
MFTE units are in high demand. Joe expects to fill all 6 of the new MFTE units very quickly. Joe told me that the regular rent will only be a few hundred dollars above the MFTE level so the building can attract student and workforce renters.
As of June 28, 2016, Wallingford has five new developments with MFTE units. Here is a summary of MFTE-eligible apartments in Wallingford:
|Affordable Unit Type|
|Building||Studio||1 BR||2 BR|
|Smith & Burns||1||26||3|
|Wallingford Studios (Footprint Apodments)||8||–||–|
Wallingford has a total 27 studio apartments that are eligible under the MFTE program. That means LIV Wallingford’s 6 studios will increase the supply of MFTE-eligible studios by 22%. MFTE is only available to new construction. As the neighborhood expands with new development, so too will the supply of rent-capped, affordable housing under the city’s MFTE program. Development in Wallingford is inevitable. Rent continues to soar upwards with no end in sight. Instead of just griping about new apartment developments, we ought to consider positive aspects like the increased supply of affordable housing that the city desperately needs.