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News / Business / Clark County Business

2 affordable housing projects planned for Battle Ground

Developers of apartment buildings seek to address city’s shortage

By Alexis Weisend, Columbian staff reporter
Published: July 26, 2023, 6:05am
5 Photos
Weaver Creek Commons will have units for people making 60 percent of area median income, or $44,760 annually for one person.
Weaver Creek Commons will have units for people making 60 percent of area median income, or $44,760 annually for one person. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Two affordable housing projects are coming to Battle Ground as the city responds to rising rents.

Weaver Creek Commons and McNair Plaza will bring a variety of affordable apartments to Battle Ground, where the average rent for a one-bedroom unit is $1,450, according to Rent.com, an apartment listing site.

Battle Ground created a Housing Action Plan in 2021 to assess the state of affordable housing within the city and identify goals — one of which was to increase access to affordable homes.

The plan found that city residents want smaller housing units, more affordable senior housing and more affordable housing in general.

The two upcoming projects will likely add over 150 units to the city toward the 420 housing units the city needs to add every year to keep up with housing needs.

Weaver Creek Commons

Since 2021, Vancouver Housing Authority has been working toward securing funding for Weaver Creek Commons — an apartment building near downtown Battle Ground.

The units will be for households that earn 60 percent of the area median income, which is $44,760 annually for one person in Clark County, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

To be affordable for someone making 60 percent of the area median income, a studio would cost $1,185, a one-bedroom would be $1,269 and a two-bedroom would be $1,524 per month.

The two-bedroom units attracted the attention of the Battle Ground Education Foundation, which will refer families in the district who are either homeless or at risk of being homeless to Weaver Creek Commons, said Vancouver Housing Authority Chief Real Estate Officer Victor Caesar.

The project was delayed after funding sought by the Vancouver Housing Authority in 2021 fell through. But last year, Weaver Creek Commons received more than $1.33 million from the Washington State Department of Commerce and more than $920,000 from Clark County after federal approval of its HOME Investment Partnerships American Rescue Plan Program allocation plan.

The project, which will cost almost $31 million, still has a $5 million gap to close.

The original plan for the project was 80 units and three stories. But on July 17, the Battle Ground City Council voted to allow the Vancouver Housing Authority to start working on a development agreement to build a fourth floor to the building, adding around 20 units. The rent from the extra units would tighten the funding gap, Caesar said.

The Vancouver Housing Authority has not constructed an affordable housing project in Battle Ground since it completed the Mill Creek Senior Estates in 2007, Caesar said.

“I just think it’s time,” Caesar said. “We have been building a lot in Vancouver and sort of the outskirts of Clark County, but there really is a need for housing in some of the smaller communities.”

Caesar estimates the project will break ground in November 2024.

McNair Plaza

Prestige Development, a Vancouver-based developer, is planning McNair Plaza to address a shortfall in Battle Ground’s affordable senior housing.

The four-story building will have 60 units targeting seniors, with commercial space on the first floor. The units will be affordable for people making between 60 and 80 percent of the area median income, which is between $44,760 and $59,650 annually for one person.

People age 65 years or older already make up 10 percent of Battle Ground’s population. They will likely be the fastest growing age group from 2020 to 2030, according to the city’s housing action plan.

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Peggy Sheehan, Prestige Development’s vice president for housing development, said Battle Ground lacks affordable senior housing.

“Our role is to try to build housing for seniors who can’t afford our current rental rates,” she said.

McNair Plaza will be close to a bus station and grocery stores.

At the July 17 city council meeting, Sheehan asked the council to consider allowing residential housing on the building’s ground floor to accommodate seniors with mobility issues. The change would have decreased the building cost because additional requirements, like extra parking spaces, make commercial building more expensive than residential, Sheehan said.

“The spot that we purchased, it’s a little off the beaten path,” Sheehan said in an interview. “So commercial would be hard to rent out there because there’s no visibility.”

The council unanimously rejected the request, with some councilors expressing a desire to protect zoning laws.

Prestige Development is working with its architect to see how the project can stay affordable despite the costs of including the commercial level. The project is estimated to cost $26.6 million.

“The goal is to try to keep the units as low as possible so we can meet the income level of 60 percent of median,” Sheehan said.

Prestige Development cannot estimate when the project will be completed.

“We have a little bit of reworking to do,” Sheehan said.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.