Published in Peninsula Daily News // Thursday, January 20, 2022
PORT TOWNSEND — Yes, those are the makings of a concrete box, Cherish Cronmiller said.
The Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) executive director has been noticing social-media commentary about the 7th Haven housing project at Seventh and Hendricks streets.
She understands that passers-by wonder how it will look when finished. All that concrete, Cronmiller said Tuesday, is just the first phase: the parking garage and foundation for a 53,000-square-foot development.
The 7th Haven complex will have 43 units — studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments — along with an early learning center and a playground. Its $15.4 million cost is funded by an $11.3 million state Department of Commerce grant — received a year ago — plus contributions from local organizations.
Despite pandemic-wrought staffing and supply shortages, the 7th Haven project is “going very well,” Cronmiller said.
“It’s completely on schedule and budget,” as the Bernt Ericsen company excavates the site for the building of the foundation. That will include building a 38-stall parking structure — the least pretty part of the project.
“It’s not going to be breathtaking,” Cronmiller said of the garage; “it’s going to do what it’s meant to do.”
The list of local and regional supporters is long, and includes the city of Port Townsend, Jefferson County, the Washington Community Reinvestment Association and the Port Townsend Noon Rotary.
One of the most recent donations comes from the Port Townsend Kiwanis Club, which raised and awarded $20,278.84 specifically for the playground.
Kiwanians Dale Wilson, former executive director of OlyCAP; David Crozier; Gloria Atkins and Barb and Ed Zinser all partook in the club’s gift. There were old-fashioned fundraisers too: a PT Mystery Players Dinner and a Murder event back in December 2019 plus Barstool Bingo at Port Townsend’s Hilltop Tavern.
After the ceremonial groundbreaking last summer, the fence went up around the 7th Haven job site in October. That marked a step in a process that had begun with concept talks in 2016, when Wilson was OlyCAP’s chief.
Serious site and funding reviews began in mid-2018, Wilson recalled. The learning curve was steep, as were the projected costs of building such a complex in this rural place.
“It is gratifying,” to see 7th Haven take shape, said Wilson, who retired in February 2020.
“There were so many doubters and challenges. I had developed other housing in eastern Washington, but nothing with as many barriers and challenges as developing on the Olympic Peninsula. I was relieved to see Cherish and Kathy [Morgan, OlyCAP’s Housing Director] continue to pursue the project … I hope this is a beginning.”
Cronmiller expects demand to be vigorous for the new apartments; OlyCAP could begin forming its prospective-occupant list in December.
The apartment complex will be open to tenants who earn less than half the area median income, which in Jefferson County is $67,400 for a family of four. Units will be available to individuals, couples and families as well as to people with disabilities and survivors of domestic violence, Cronmiller said, as OlyCAP’s partners include Dove House and Discovery Bay Behavioral Health.
The new residents of 7th Haven, she hopes, will be moving into their new apartments in spring 2023.