County Council to consider proposal for high-density, permanently affordable housing project in Friday Harbor

Posted September 11, 2022 at 8:06 am by

A portion of the undeveloped 1.75 acre lot at the corner of Argyle Ave. and Malcom St.

The San Juan Coun­ty Coun­cil is set to review a pro­pos­al that calls for the devel­op­ment of up to 42 units of low- and mod­er­ate-income rental hous­ing in down­town Fri­day Harbor.

A draft of a Request for Qual­i­fi­ca­tions relat­ed to a 1.75-acre par­cel of Coun­ty-owned land at the cor­ner of Argyle Ave. and Mal­com St. has been pre­pared by the Coun­ty Depart­ment of Health & Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices for the Council’s review at Tuesday’s Coun­cil meeting.

“San Juan Coun­ty seeks an expe­ri­enced devel­op­er to part­ner with and enter into a long term, low- to no-cost lease agree­ment for a 1.75-acre par­cel,” accord­ing to the RFQ. “The site presents a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty for a large-scale afford­able hous­ing devel­op­ment serv­ing a vari­ety of income lev­els, pri­mar­i­ly house­holds that earn at or below 80 per­cent of area medi­an income.”

The Fri­day Har­bor Town Coun­cil has agreed to allow den­si­ty of up to 24 units per acre on the prop­er­ty, which means that up to 42 hous­ing units are pos­si­ble if the site is devel­oped to max­i­mum capac­i­ty. The draft RFQ calls for up to 50 per­cent of the new units to be afford­able for mod­er­ate-income house­holds earn­ing between 80 and 115 per­cent of AMI. The oth­er 50 per­cent of the units must be dis­trib­uted between low income (80 per­cent AMI or less), very low income (50 per­cent AMI or less), and extreme­ly low income (30 per­cent AMI or less) levels.

80 per­cent AMI for a fam­i­ly of four in San Juan Coun­ty is rough­ly $70,000 per year.

“The Coun­ty is pre­pared to make sig­nif­i­cant finan­cial con­tri­bu­tions to the project to off­set infra­struc­ture costs,” the draft RFQ says. It also com­mits the Coun­ty to pro­vid­ing frontage improve­ments on the site, includ­ing side­walks, street trees, land­scap­ing, curbs, gut­ters, and street lamps.

In addi­tion, the draft RFQ details design require­ments and pre­ferred approach­es to ener­gy effi­cien­cy. The Coun­ty seeks a devel­op­ment that “main­tains the char­ac­ter and design of the his­toric Argyle neigh­bor­hood in Fri­day Har­bor while max­i­miz­ing allow­able den­si­ty for long-term afford­able hous­ing rental units … As fea­si­ble, [the devel­op­er should] pro­vide solar arrays and ener­gy-effi­cient build­ings, appli­ances, and low-flow or water-effi­cient plumb­ing fix­tures. This will not only help con­serve our water resources; it will low­er util­i­ty costs, which will help main­tain long-term affordability.”

Should the Coun­ty move for­ward with the project, the draft RFQ out­lines a three-step devel­op­er selec­tion process. Coun­ty staff would first eval­u­ate sub­mis­sions and their adher­ence to the stat­ed project goals, pri­or­i­ties, and strate­gies. The Hous­ing Advi­so­ry Com­mit­tee would review the staff reports and present their rec­om­men­da­tions to the Coun­cil. The Coun­cil then has the option to accept or reject the HAC’s rec­om­men­da­tions, or make mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the scope and terms of the project.

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Categories: Around Here


  1. I would respect­ful­ly request that they also add lan­guage to require 2 park­ing spaces for each of the 42 units with­in the foot­print of the development.

    Comment by Chris Sly-Prochnow on September 12, 2022 at 7:55 am
  2. As well as a min­i­mum of a two car garage for stuff and recre­ation­al vehicles.
    Take a dri­ve by the lat­est mul­ti­fam­i­ly devel­op­ments that have no garages or stor­age areas.

    Comment by ron warden on September 12, 2022 at 11:11 am
  3. There’s a lot of con­fu­sion on social media regard­ing the type of hous­ing this would be. The RFQ states that it would be rental hous­ing. That might be a help­ful detail to add to the article.

    Comment by Chelsea on September 12, 2022 at 12:14 pm

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