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Developer replacing Pacific Lanes will get tax break for offering affordable apartments

The developer of an apartment complex that will replace Tacoma’s Pacific Lanes Bowling center will get a tax break for including affordable housing units in the project.

On Tuesday, City Council unanimously approved a proposal for a 12-year multifamily housing property tax exemption with Grand Pacific LLC. William Hamilton, Pacific Lanes’ current owner who bought the property at 7015 S. D St. in 1992, is in the process of selling the property to Grand Pacific.

The $11 million project, Grand Pacific Apartments, calls for 134 apartments, with 28 of the units created as affordable, with the rest market rate.

Grand Pacific LLC, led by Ken Rody, is the project’s developer.

UPDATE APRIL 30: While Hamilton is also listed in the city’s action memo on the project, he told The News Tribune he is not a developer in the project.

Under the plan, The average size and expected rent rates are:

Affordable

18 one bedroom, one bath at 575-620 square feet: $1,046 with utilities included.

10 two bedroom, one-two bath at 800-925 square feet: $1,342 with utilities included.

Market rate:

68 one bedroom, one bath at 575-620 square feet: $1,150-$1,200.

38 two bedroom, one-two bath at 800-925 square feet: $1,300-$1,450.

Under the city’s 12-year tax exemption plan, 20 percent of a project’s units must be deemed affordable for households earning no more than 80 percent of area median income. In the recent past, the City Council has considered $52,000 annually to be AMI.

The plan exempts property taxes on improvements that create four or more additional housing units.

The use of tax credits in apartment development at a time of rising rents has in the past come under fire. Questions were raised again during Tuesday’s public comment.

While acknowledging the topic has attracted push-back from the public, in this instance council members supported the exemption.

Council member Chris Beale described the 12-year formula as a tool “in the upper range of what we consider affordable housing.”

“The rents may seem high, but realistically they’re actually relatively affordable when you consider the fact that utilities are included,” Beale said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “I’m helping a friend of mine in this same neighborhood search for housing, and most houses that are about that same size rent for $1,500 to $1,700 without utilities.

“It’s important to get this affordable housing here. It’ll be right on the bus rapid transit line. It’s going to provide a lot of really good actual market rate units as well in this area and shows really big investment in an area where a lot of investment hasn’t occurred, traditionally and historically.”

Rody told the council he’s in favor of the 12-year exemption program as it is now.

“I can tell you right now, as a developer, it does very much encourage us to build in your city. It’s a big deal for us. We seek out property like that to be able to do it,” he said. “It’s not a bad thing — it’s great.”

Concerns had been raised at past meetings over issues of safety and the additional traffic anticipated with the new apartments. Rody sought to address those concerns Tuesday.

“A project this size always has different ideas, viewpoints of how it’s going to be put in,” he said. “We’ve been working with the neighborhood group ... I think we’re doing a pretty good job of trying to mitigate some of the concerns that they have and will continue to do so with what we can and with what the city allows in some of those instances.”

Rody mentioned speed bumps and perhaps a crosswalk across 72nd Street to get to Fred Meyer.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” he said. “We don’t want that either.”

City records show a demolition permit for the site was filed April 8, with a tentative construction completion date of September 2020.

At the time of the initial announcement for the site redevelopment, Hamilton told The News Tribune that it was becoming more costly to maintain and improve the bowling facility that had once served the likes of bowling legend Earl Anthony.

“The expense of upkeep is what had changed most through the years,” Hamilton said in March. “You buy it, then you need to put synthetic lanes down over the wood, so there’s a million dollars. Then you put in scoring, time for new scoring, time for new pin setters ... and it just goes on and on.”

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