By Ann McCreary
The concept of developing the Idle-A-While Motel in Twisp into affordable rental housing is off the table for now, but other possible affordable housing options will be considered in the coming year, said Fred Peck, executive director of Spokane Housing Ventures.
Peck said Spokane Housing Ventures received word last week that a request for funding to purchase and renovate the motel was turned down by the Federal Home Loan Bank, which supports affordable housing projects around the nation.
The Idle-A-While proposal also faces another hurdle. The property is zoned for commercial and tourism uses and would require a zoning change to accommodate residential uses. Peck said he discussed the idea on Monday (Dec. 18) with Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody, who told him she did not think the town would approve the zoning change. Ing-Moody has said that town leaders and business owners are reluctant to reduce the amount of commercially zoned property in Twisp.
“The mayor suggested that if we’ve got limited time and resources, we focus on another location,” Peck said Tuesday (Dec. 19). “We talked about the potential of purchasing existing property and renovating it, or new construction.”
Spokane Housing Ventures is a Spokane-based nonprofit organization that develops and manages housing for people with limited incomes around the state. The organization manages two properties in the Methow Valley — Cedarwood Apartments in Winthrop and Riverview Apartments in Twisp — and is interested in creating additional rental units in the valley.
Spokane Housing Ventures representatives met with interested community members, civic leaders and business owners earlier this month to explain their concept for the Idle-A-While project. The idea of creating additional affordable housing was widely supported, although that location raised some questions.
Peck said his organization remains committed to seeking ways to increase housing for people on limited incomes in the Methow Valley. He said Spokane Housing Ventures will collaborate with the Methow Housing Trust, a new nonprofit organization that is purchasing property and building homes that are affordable for purchase by people earning 60-100 percent of the county median income.
“Partnerships and relationships are of paramount importance to us,” Peck said. “We do multifamily rentals, but often people find stability when they rent an apartment and find they are able to move on to home ownership.”
Peck said Spokane Housing Ventures has been encouraged to apply for funding from the Federal Home Loan Bank in 2018, and will look for an opportunity to develop affordable rental property in the Methow Valley. He said the organization plans to schedule a community meeting in the Methow Valley in January or February to share ideas and gather feedback.