CHELAN — Groundbreaking for a moderate-income housing development in Chelan has been delayed, but there's still good news.
Chelan County is working on securing 20 acres of surplus property past Willmorth Drive for the Chelan Valley Housing Trust. Located near Chelan Fruit, the land used to hold an orchard.
"That would mean we would be able to, essentially, provide the land and the only cost then would be for improvements and what they put on it, which should bring the homes down quite a bit," Commissioner Doug England said. "We're currently working with the city and working with (the housing trust) as far as getting them qualified and getting them in line to work something out."
He said he hopes the process will be completed in the next couple of months.
This would be the second land donation to the housing trust. The Lookout at Lake Chelan, a waterfront home community, is donating 2 acres off the Manson Highway.
Housing trust administrator Rachael Goldie initially expected groundbreaking for the first development to be this summer, but she said this week that the donation agreement is still being finalized. She hopes to break ground in the spring and have at least a few homes completed by fall 2020.
Goldie said 17 homes could fit on the property. They will be between 800 and 1,100 square feet, and most will be two stories.
Right now Goldie estimates they'll cost about $270,000, but she's hoping to get the price down to about $250,000 with private fundraising.
The housing trust is registered with the state as a nonprofit and working on attaining federal nonprofit status. Its 12-member board includes real estate agents who keep an eye out for vacant lots.
"There's two, specifically, that are in town that are about an acre that we might be able to develop a small duplex on or something like that," Goldie said. "We're just exploring where those lots are right now and trying to get the networking going to talk to the owners of those lots and see if they'd be willing to donate to the housing trust."
The housing trust uses construction loans to build homes and then sells them with a ground lease.
The Chelan City Council in December approved $100,000 to subsidize hookup fees for affordable housing developments and another $100,000 over five years to help with the housing trust's operations. Businesses and individuals have also donated.
The Lake Chelan Wine and Jazz Festival in May raised $25,000 for the housing trust.
"Affordable housing is essential to maintaining a vibrant community," festival spokeswoman Holly Brown said in a news release. "People who live, work and support our community should be able to afford to live here. We believe the Chelan Valley Housing Trust has taken on an important initiative and we're honored to support their efforts."
Goldie said professional services, including legal fees, are the biggest costs.
"Things like groundwork, geotech services, deciding whether or not the land's good enough to build on and what kind of approach we need to take in development," she said. "Those things cost thousands of dollars, and that money's going to help us get through that portion, which is really extensive upfront before you start building housing. The more support we have at the beginning stage, the better."