By John Wu & Nhien Nguyen
InterIm Community Development Association will build a new family townhome-style project in the heart of the original Nihonmachi (Japantown) area of Seattle’s International District. The Main Street Family Housing Project, soon to have an official name, will begin construction in September 2004 with anticipated completion by November 2005.
The project will offer 50 units for low-income families with incomes up to 60 percent of area median income. There will be 10 studios, six one-bedrooms, 19 two-bedrooms, 10 three-bedrooms and five four-bedrooms.
“We want to bring families back to the ID and to accommodate those who may be living in crowded, substandard housing right now,” says ICDA, which was started by its sister organization, International District Improvement Association in 1979.
The building will be six stories with an interior courtyard with protected play space for children and a community room/computer lab for residents. Parking and commercial office space will also be part of the project.
Bob Santos, executive director, says that as a child growing up in the ID, he lived in “very poor conditions” in single room occupancy (SRO) units.
“Too many kids grow up in SRO units,” Santos said. “We want to make sure that kids who grow up in this community have their own bedrooms. It gives them a chance to have their own life and privacy.”
The site will be located on South Maynard Avenue and Main Street, across the street from Kobe Terrace Park and the Danny Woo Community Garden, the latter operated by InterIm for elderly from the community.
This project serves important community needs including immigrant and refugee groups with large and extended families, disabled individuals/families who are able to live independently and transitional housing for homeless families.
Key funders for the project include City of Seattle, King County, WA State Housing Trust Fund, Seattle Housing Authority, Federal Home Loan Bank, Sound Families/Gates Foundation, Impact Capital, WA State Housing Finance Commission, and numerous individuals and foundations.
On Aug. 2, the InterIm Community Development Association received a Neighborhood Business District Grant from Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels in the amount of $10,000 to fund the street scaping design on Main Street.
“The Main Street Family Housing Project is a perfect example of how InterIm Community Development Association is truly making a difference in people’s lives,” Nickels said. “Projects like this create stronger, more vibrant neighborhoods and help meet the growing demand for high quality affordable housing.”
The project has been years in the making and has involved the hard work of many individuals. Santos says, “The ID welcomes more low income and affordable housing for families in our community to meet the special needs of the very low income, disabled and homeless households.”
Santos is pleased about the groundbreaking that kick-off on Sept. 9. He said, “This project stands as one more success in our 35-year effort to preserve and revitalize the ID. It is an ‘anchor’ for revitalization of Japantown and complements the Seattle Chinatown/ID Presevation & Development Authority’s recently completed ID Village Square II project located at the south end of our neighborhood.
InterIm Community Development Association’s mission is to promote, advocate and revitalize the International District and Asian Pacific communities in the Pugent Sound area for the benefit of low- and moderate-income residents and community business owners.
The groundbreaking ceremony takes place Thursday, Sept. 9 at 11 a.m.—12:30 p.m. at South Maynard/Main Street in Seattle’s International District. The program features Taiko drummers, Mayor Greg Nickels, Council President Peter Steinbrueck, State Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos and other funders and supporters. RSVP’s are appreciated. Call (206) 624-1802 for information.