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Low-income senior housing project slated for uptown Vancouver

Private housing developer Ginn Group is embarking on its first income- and age-restricted housing project in Vancouver. A four-story building with 69 apartments is planned for the uptown area, between Esther and Daniels streets, just north of 15th Street.

When Ginn Group bought the Hough neighborhood property, it was originally envisioned with 60 units of market-rate housing. However, the company considered using the property to address the need for more affordable housing and reached out to Vancouver Housing Authority.

CEO Patrick Ginn said he’s periodically checked in with the housing authority to learn how his company could work with them. This is Ginn Group’s first foray into housing that uses the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program and other public funding sources. The $14.52 million project will be reserved for people 62 and older who earn 50 percent of area median income or less, which works out to $30,800 annually for a single person. It comprises a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as 48 parking spaces.

“We want to do this,” Ginn said, adding: “It’s a lot more work than a market-rate project.”

He credits his team with navigating the complicated process.

“I think we’ve got a proposal that will score right,” he said, referring to the tax credit application, which is approaching a Dec. 9 deadline.

Vancouver Housing Authority’s board of commissioners Thursday delayed a vote to approve a $1.5 million loan to Ginn Group through Columbia Non Profit Housing, a nonprofit arm of the housing authority.

The board’s chair, Art Miles, said the authority needs to finalize the development agreement outlining the relationship between the two entities, including developer fee amounts. He said loan approval could be brought back to the board in time for Ginn to meet the tax credit deadline.

“We want to do it right,” Miles said. “It’s new territory.”

Besides financing from Columbia Non Profit Housing, Ginn Group is also seeking bond financing and money from Vancouver’s Affordable Housing Fund and HOME Investments Partnerships Program.

Ginn aims to complete at least one project each year using tax credits.

Construction on this first project will start in the spring or summer. The company has already devoted about $1.8 million in acquiring the land, which takes up a half block, and demolishing old homes that were on it. Ginn said the project has been underway for nearly a year.

Vancouver-based Team Construction is the general contractor and Portland-based Works Progress Architecture is the architect. The design calls for pitched roofs to better blend in with surrounding single-family homes. Amenities would include secured access and mail, a community garden, bicycle parking, laundry facilities and common spaces.


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