The development of the former Aloha Motel site on Samish Way was part of the City of Bellingham’s vision to transform this austere section of the neighborhood into an urban village. An urban village’s primary goal is to become less automobile focused by adding residential and mixed-use buildings, green spaces, and other features that focus on pedestrians and bicycles. In 2017, Bellingham Housing Authority (BHA) purchased the site and hired RMC to help them make this vision into a reality.
The scope of Phase 1 focused on 69 units of affordable and workforce housing, five townhomes, 70 stalls of structured parking, and improvements to the abutting Otis Street.
The three-bedroom townhomes with private courtyards were placed to lend an approachable, street-friendly appeal. The spacious entry to the adjacent main building provides a warm greeting to residents and is composed of areas for receiving and reading mail and a living room, encouraging neighborly conversations. A vertical glass tower brings daylight into all four floors of the building and illuminates the open stairs that link these floors. It also visually connects the main floor spaces. Siting the building to meet the street provided an opportunity to shield the parking structure by wrapping the building around it, adhering to urban village goals.
Residential interiors meet a tight budget without sacrificing aesthetics. Oversized windows bring in natural light, provide generous views, and give the rooms a spacious feel. All units accommodate washers and dryers and have Luxury Vinyl Tile flooring. The project also meets Evergreen Sustainable Development Standards for health and safety, durability, sustainable living, and energy and water efficiency.
When Phase 2 is complete in 2023, this welcome addition to the bordering York and Sehome neighborhoods will add two more apartment buildings—senior and family; community and commercial office spaces; and a beautiful, shared courtyard for all residents.