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Redevelopment of Yesler Terrace neighborhood begins

Groundbreaking launches construction of Phase 1: new homes, community services

SEATTLE — September 5, 2013 — Following years of planning and resident input, Seattle Housing Authority and local leaders today held a ceremonial groundbreaking to launch the first phase of new construction at Yesler Terrace. The redevelopment has been awarded significant grants through the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, a project of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Additional funding comes from the City of Seattle and several private foundations.

Aser Ashkir

Event speakers break ground at the first construction site for Yesler Terrace redevelopment.

With the deep involvement of the community and the commitment of Seattle Housing Authority, the redeveloped Yesler Terrace will preserve the vibrant, diverse qualities of the existing neighborhood and will feature upgraded affordable housing and homes for all income levels.

"I'm very excited that the vision of Yesler Terrace is finally being realized here today. I have been proud to support Yesler Terrace because the project is not only about creating affordable housing, it is about creating a stronger community with new opportunities for Washington families," said U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Subcommittee that funds the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). "I'm so pleased that we were able to secure $30 million in federal funding to help to revitalize this important neighborhood."

The redeveloped neighborhood will feature new parks, gardening opportunities, and pedestrian-friendly streets, which will more easily connect Yesler Terrace residents to opportunities in surrounding neighborhoods. Yesler Terrace is within a mile of 25% of the jobs in the City of Seattle, close to the employment hubs of Downtown and First Hill.

"The redevelopment of Yesler Terrace will allow thousands more people to have access to first-class educational opportunities and some of the best health care facilities in the City," said U.S. Congressman Adam Smith (D-9). "I look forward to working with Seattle Housing Authority, local leaders, and other stakeholders to also make sure this effort leads to increased employment opportunities for the community."

Redevelopment will also provide more housing close to significant transit connections. The first phase of construction is adjacent to the new First Hill Streetcar line, which links employment centers to the light rail system via connections on Capitol Hill and in the International District, and provides easy access to the full transit network throughout Puget Sound.

"The redevelopment of Yesler Terrace will offer more affordable housing and will deliver better access to safer streets, reliable transit, and quality education to the community," said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.

The redevelopment of Yesler Terrace will take 10-15 years, and will produce a significant number of jobs related to the construction. Andersen Construction, the contractor for the new residential low-income housing at 1105 East Fir Street and the Baldwin Apartments, has committed to hiring 60 low-income people from the community during its Phase 1 construction.

"The jobs created by redevelopment are yet another benefit of this project," said Seattle City Council President Sally J. Clark. "There are real, tangible opportunities for Yesler residents to find employment, and be a part of reshaping their neighborhood."

In addition to the construction of new housing, Phase 1 of the redevelopment also includes enhanced community services. Yesler residents can access increased Cradle to College educational support, job placement assistance, and help with health care and related services. On average, residents of SHA housing at Yesler Terrace earn less than 30 percent of the City's median income, or less than $26,000 per year for a family of four.

"We are committed to providing safe, healthy, affordable homes but the redevelopment of Yesler is about more than construction, it's about people," said Andrew J. Lofton, Executive Director of Seattle Housing Authority. "Through vital partnerships with significant community stakeholders, we will provide the services and support that will enable our residents, and the neighborhood, to thrive."

Seattle Housing has committed to replacing all of the existing 561 units of extremely low-income housing at Yesler Terrace, and to adding additional affordable housing serving multiple income levels.