Meadowlark Affordable Housing Neighborhood
March 18, 2016 - The Upper Valley MEND board of directors voted on March 15, 2016 to stop development on the Meadowlark neighborhood effective immediately. It is with heavy hearts that the board of directors takes this action, given the ever-growing critical need for affordable homes in Leavenworth.
The project was $1.5 million over budget and the MEND board of directors explored every realistic option to bring costs into alignment. These overruns primarily stemmed from rising construction costs and the burden of carrying costs during two years of delays. Since the project’s initial 2013 Planned Development approval, new requirements from various agencies caused Meadowlark to re-engineer the project. This paused development while interest-carrying costs, engineering fees, property taxes and staff costs continued to mount.
In February of 2016, Meadowlark went out for both site development and house construction bids. While site development bids came in significantly lower than projected, house construction bids came in significantly higher per house, due to rising construction costs. This shortfall made it impossible for MEND to continue to pursue the project.
Planning for Meadowlark began in 2008, after the successful completion of the 10 homes in Aldea Village. Meadowlark was slated to be a 53-home neighborhood between Titus Road and Chumstick Highway. Thirty of these homes were planned to be affordable homes under the Community Land Trust format of homeownership. The other 23 homes would have been sold as market-rate homes, helping to fund the affordable homes. Additionally, the neighborhood would have created a street connecting Chumstick Highway and Titus Road, and looped together two city water systems.
Although Meadowlark cannot continue, the need for affordable homes in Leavenworth continues to rise. According to the 2010 US Census, between 27 and 35 percent of the houses in the Leavenworth area are now vacation rentals or second homes, which drives up the cost of the already-limited number of houses in the Upper Valley. Upper Valley MEND will continue to steward the 20 affordable homes in Aldea Village and Alpine Heights neighborhoods, and work toward helping the community expand affordable housing options in the Upper Wenatchee Valley.
MEND has taken extensive care to ensure the other five MEND programs will continue to run effectively, regardless of Meadowlark. The Community Cupboard, Cornerstone Community, the Upper Valley Free Clinic, SHARE Community Land Trust and Jubilee Global Gifts will all continue to provide food, clothing, healthcare and housing in the Upper Valley as the MEND board of directors works to determine the best exit strategy for Meadowlark. Currently, there are no plans for the future of the Meadowlark property. The MEND board of directors will work with stakeholders, the City of Leavenworth and community members to determine the best course of action.
Upper Valley MEND has had wide ranging community support over the course of planning Meadowlark. The MEND board of directors is forever grateful to the donors, lenders, community members, Leavenworth elected officials and staff members who have worked for affordable homeownership in Leavenworth.