Amazon invests $23M to construct 568 properties in Seattle as a part of inexpensive housing initiative

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Rendering of planned apartment complex Grand Street Commons. (Amazon Photo)

Amazon is investing $23 million to support the construction of 568 homes in Seattle as part of its Housing Equity Fund to build or preserve housing for moderate- to low-income earners.

The $2 billion fund, announced last year, aims to create 20,000 affordable homes in Nashville, and the Seattle and Arlington, Va. areas, regions where the company has a large presence and income disparities are growing.

The newly-allotted funding will go to real estate development organizations led by Black, Hispanic, and Asian individuals, and are the first in Seattle to be supported by the Housing Equity Fund. Much of the housing will be located near light rail stations in Southeast Seattle, which has a high percentage of low-income individuals.

“In supporting these projects, we are focusing on equity by not only increasing access to affordable housing but also being intentional about whom we select as development partners,” said Catherine Buell, director of the fund, in a statement Thursday announcing the new projects. “Diverse perspectives are essential to help create truly inclusive and thriving communities.”

The announcement comes as the cost to own or rent in the Seattle region continues rising — as do tech salaries, which are causing concern that the housing price trends will continue. In February, Amazon doubled maximum pay to $350,000 for corporate and tech workers. Microsoft also recently boosted salaries to attract and retain workers.  

The median sale price for Seattle homes was up 7.9% in May, to $890,000, according to Redfin. The overall median rent in Seattle today is $1,745, up more than 14% from $1,531 one year ago, according to Apartment List.

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Microsoft has also committed to addressing the affordable housing crisis, pledging $750 million to efforts in the greater Seattle area; the company has preserved or created 9,200 affordable housing units in the region since 2019.

The new Amazon projects bring its fund’s commitment to more than $360 million and 3,400 homes in the Seattle area. These commitments include new housing previously slated for locations near light rail stations in North Seattle and by Seatac airport.

Here’s more info about the new planned developments.

  • Amazon is working with three housing partners: the Black-owned development company Gardner Global and two nonprofit community organizations, the Mount Baker Housing Authority and El Centro de la Raza.
  • One project, Grand Street Commons, will create 204 new apartment units near the future Judkins Park light rail station. The project, slated for completion by summer 2024, is designed to be affordable to tenants at or below 60% of area median income. People of color are about 68% of the neighborhood’s population, according to Amazon.
  • Other projects will build 87 units in Columbia City, 122 units at the site of a former African American Baptist Church, and 155 units near the Mount Baker light rail station.

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