Whispering Pines Apartments complex in Lynnwood. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

Whispering Pines Apartments complex in Lynnwood. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

New low-income apartments to replace Whispering Pines

On Monday, Lynnwood approved the housing authority’s plan for another affordable apartment complex.

LYNNWOOD — The county housing authority has received approval to build 242 low-income apartments on the site now occupied by the Whispering Pines apartment complex. The City Council voted unanimously in favor of the decision Monday.

“I’m happy that they finally approved the development service agreement, so we can move forward,” said Duane Leonard, executive director of the Housing Authority of Snohomish County.

The development agreement is between the city of Lynnwood, the Snohomish County Housing Authority (commonly called HASCO) and the Inland Group, a Spokane-based developer. It essentially gives HASCO permission to build more apartments on its property, near the intersection of Highway 99 and 52nd Avenue W, than current zoning allows. Without the agreement, HASCO could only build 219 units on the roughly 12-acre property.

“It’s a positive step for the city,” said Lynnwood City Council President George Hurst.

Due to health and safety concerns, the 240-unit Whispering Pines is slated for demolition in October. The new apartment complex is to be called “Novo on 52nd.” Plans for the complex include a gym, clubhouse, off-street parking and a half-acre of outdoor amenities. Like Whispering Pines, the new complex will house tenants who earn less than 60% of the area median income. For a family of four in Snohomish County that equates to $69,420 annually.

None of the new buildings can be taller than three stories, or 38 feet, according to the city’s development agreement with HASCO. Nine of the residential buildings will be two-story carriage houses. The nine buildings, which are located on the south and east sides of the property and border single-family homes, will be no taller than 28 feet .

Originally, HASCO wanted to build a denser apartment complex in place of Whispering Pines. The city rejected a proposal to rezone the property for up to 400 low-income apartments. At the time, Leonard told The Herald that the housing authority would potentially sell the property if it couldn’t reach a compromise with the city.

The agency’s new site plans incorporated suggestions from the neighbors, including relocating a noisy trash compactor and increasing the setback requirements for buildings located across the street from single-family reisdences. The goal is to begin construction by October.

Hurst said the city’s development agreement with the housing authority means the city won’t permanently lose any of its affordable housing supply.

“We could have lost this low-income housing,” Hurst said. “HASCO could have decided to sell the property to a developer. This was great to preserve some low-income housing within the city.”

The housing authority’s executive director did not have new information about Whispering Pines’ remaining residents or where they will go. While current residents must leave by the end of August, roughly 50 apartments are still occupied.

“We’re still continuing to assist them to try and find alternative accommodations,” Leonard said.

Katie Hayes: katie.hayes@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @misskatiehayes.

Katie Hayes is a Report for America corps member and writes about issues that affect the working class for The Daily Herald.

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