Council takes next step in Argyle Lots housing project by selecting San Juan Community Home Trust

Submitted by San Juan County.

During the April 18 meeting, Council members voted to accept the Housing Advisory Committee’s recommendation of selecting the San Juan Community Home Trust as the chosen applicant from the RFQ submittals received and further directs staff to begin negotiating a developer agreement with the Home Trust.

After several months of public meetings, presentations, and questions, the Council decided to direct County staff to enter into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) to negotiate a Developer Agreement with the San Juan Community Home Trust. If the parties cannot execute a Developer Agreement within the time period specified by the ENA, the County reserves the right to enter into negotiations with one or more alternate development teams.

As outlined in the Request for Qualifications, San Juan Community Home Trust will build approximately 40 units that shall conform with the design, scale, and architectural details of Town of Friday Harbor Historic Preservation Overlay District. The proposed development will have a mix of units including moderate, low, very low, and extremely low-income households. Once completed, the project will serve one of the largest number of households of any affordable housing project in San Juan County’s history.

Project History Timeline:

2002: San Juan County, acting through the County Land Bank, purchased land at the junction of Argyle Avenue and Malcom Street known as the “Argyle Lots.” The property is made up of four parcels within the Town of Friday Harbor.

2018: Ownership was transferred to the County itself with the goal of developing affordable housing.

2018: The County recorded a Historic Preservation Easement with the Town of Friday Harbor to ensure that any construction or activity on the property would be consistent with the historic preservation regulations of the Town of Friday Harbor Historic Overlay District.

2018: County staff met with the Town of Friday Harbor to discuss the development of the property.

2023: The County officially released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to identify a development partner for the Argyle Lots. At the close of the RFQ response period, the County had received responses from three developers: Favor 34, G Projects, and the San Juan Community Home Trust (Home Trust).

Path to Decision-Making:

County staff, including Housing Program Coordinator Ryan Page, Health & Community Services Director Mark Tompkins, and County Manager Mike Thomas, evaluated the developers’ responses and prepared initial recommendations based on the merits of the proposed projects, whether the project meets the priorities, goals and strategies of the County’s Comprehensive Plan, and whether the responses met the criteria of the RFQ.

The County’s Housing Advisory Committee reviewed the staff reports and developer materials and ultimately recommended that the San Juan Community Home Trust should be selected as the preferred development partner for the Argyle Lots Project. Then the County Council met with and asked questions of the developers during several meetings in February, March, and April.

Next Steps:

The County will now begin working in earnest with the Home Trust to negotiate a developer agreement and lease.