November 4, 2021
BURLINGTON, Wash. – Community Action of Skagit County and partners have begun pre-construction on Cascade Landing Apartment Homes, 35 new units in Burlington. They anticipate completing construction in spring 2022, with leasing to begin as early as June 2022.
Addressing the state’s worst shortage of apartments, Cascade Landing is a unique nonprofit/for-profit partnership between Community Action and owner/developers Dan Mitzel and Patti Burklund. The partners are converting second-floor office space at 160 Cascade Place into residential homes: 27 studio apartments, as well as six one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments.
“Skagit County is thousands of units behind in apartments that local folks can actually afford,” said Bill Henkel, Community Action’s Executive Director. According to the spring 2021 University of Washington Market Rental Survey, Skagit County has the lowest apartment vacancy rate in the state, just 0.3%.
Renters at Cascade Landing may range from senior citizens who need to downsize, to people working hard to pay bills while saving for their future. “School teachers, grocery and restaurant workers —everyone should be able to afford to live in the communities they serve,” said Henkel. “Today, many can’t. Housing stability is key to success for education, employment, and health.”
Community Action intends to reserve at least 10% of the units for veterans. Former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has donated $50,000 to the effort. Cascade Landing is located above Community Action’s Skagit Vets Connect office on the first floor of the building, another project Gates helped fund.
Cascade Landing is a pilot project, innovative in that there is no state or federal government investment. Community Action plans to duplicate the model throughout the county. To lead this and future initiatives, the agency hired Housing Project Director Michele Metcalf, who has experience in developing homes with tribal governments and nonprofits. “The challenges in Skagit County are both availability (practically none), and affordability (rents are skyrocketing),” Metcalf said. “We believe our community can solve this problem by working together creatively.”
The $2.3 million project “is one important piece to the puzzle” of making housing affordable in Skagit County, Metcalf said. According to Tina Tate, Executive Director of homeless shelter and service agency Friendship House, “Cascade Landing fills a gap in our housing continuum that has been lacking for so long.” More people will avoid homelessness if they can afford to keep their homes, she said.
The apartments will be affordable to people earning 60% of the Area Median Income (around $2,900/mo for a single person), and will require no more than 30% of the tenant’s income. All units include bathrooms and kitchens, with soundproofing and energy efficiency, indoor and outdoor common spaces, and includes ADA units. The apartments will be professionally managed.
In addition to Secretary Gates, financial support for the project is provided by PeaceHealth United General Medical Center, Pacific WoodTech, and other major donors.
Community Action is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization serving Skagit County since 1979. For more information: CascadeLanding@CommunityActionSkagit.org, or www.CommunityActionSkagit.org/cascade-landing.