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Land purchase set to double Battle Ground’s affordable housing stock

Vancouver Housing Authority is moving forward with plans that will nearly double the number of affordable housing units it has in Battle Ground.

The authority’s board of commissioners on Thursday approved purchasing 4.37 acres of land in Battle Ground for a future 80-unit development at 306 S.E. Clark Ave. in an older area of town, not far from downtown.

Executive Director Roy Johnson said the opportunity to acquire the land in a “high needs area” came about after a developer couldn’t pull off a planned project. According to Clark County property records, it’s currently owned by RKC Enterprises.

The housing authority’s existing properties in Battle Ground include St. Helen’s Manor Apartments, a 30-unit complex for seniors, the 50-unit Mill Creek Apartments and 28-unit Mill Creek Senior Estates near Fred Meyer. According to the agency, these properties are typically 98- to 100-percent occupied and maintain waitlists.

“Locating suitable residential acreage in Battle Ground is difficult,” Johnson told the board.

The $1.49 million purchase will be paid for using a $800,000 loan from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission at 1-percent interest and $690,000 in unrestricted housing authority funds.

Board Chair Art Miles initially disliked the idea — which was discussed at the board’s August meeting — in part because of where the land is located, but he did vote Thursday to approve the purchase.

“We look out into the future, and we do want to be in Battle Ground,” Miles said, adding that he was pleased they were getting the land at a reduced price. The seller was originally asking for around $2 million, Johnson said.

Commissioner Roy Heikkala said it’s hard to find big pieces of property for larger projects and that the authority need to continue acquiring properties for future work. Developers around the county have contemplated the shrinking amount of developable land.

“I think the need is pretty big there (in Battle Ground),” Heikkala said.

The Battle Ground City Council also previously approved the housing authority’s purchase of the land. Design work won’t begin for another two to three years, and the housing authority said it will maintain the vacant property until it’s developed.


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