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With financing squared away, construction coming soon for Samish residential project

Condemned Aloha Motel is demolished

Workers demolish one of the buildings at the Aloha Motel on North Samish Way in Bellingham, Washington on Nov. 10, 2015. The city condemned the motel for being a hub of crime and then bought the property.
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Workers demolish one of the buildings at the Aloha Motel on North Samish Way in Bellingham, Washington on Nov. 10, 2015. The city condemned the motel for being a hub of crime and then bought the property.

One key piece of funding has fallen into place for the redevelopment of the former Aloha Motel property, paving the way for an October groundbreaking.

The Washington State Housing Finance Commission announced in a news release that it has approved $14.9 million in financing for the first phase of the redevelopment project on Samish Way. The first phase will have 69 apartment units; eventually the project is planned for 160 apartment and townhouse units available for people with a range of incomes. The project will also have some office and commercial space.

This award of federal tax credits was key to getting the first phase started and was made possible by the early commitment of the Bellingham Home Fund, said Brien Thane, executive director and CEO of the Bellingham & Whatcom County Housing Authorities. Altogether, six sources of financing were cobbled together for this first phase, Thane said in an email to The Bellingham Herald.

The federal tax credit program allows developers to raise capital for affordable apartments by selling housing tax credits to investors, according to the commission’s news release. In exchange, investors can offset corporate income taxes.

Once construction gets started in October, Thane estimates the first phase will be done in February 2020, while the entire project will be completed in the first quarter of 2021.

During the first phase of construction, Thane doesn’t expect any traffic disruption along Samish Way. There could be occasional traffic disruptions in later phases since the project will be built close to the street.

RMC Architects of Bellingham is designing the project. Bellingham’s Dawson Construction is the general contractor.

The city of Bellingham took over the property through condemnation proceedings in 2015 after the motel was declared a blight. The building was demolished in 2015. In 2017 the housing authority bought the property from the city for $1.83 million.

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Dave Gallagher has covered the Whatcom County business community since 1998. Retail, real estate, jobs and port redevelopment are among the topics he covers.
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