Affordable apartment may be offered to market-rate buyers

A Friday Harbor apartment complex may lose its income-based rentals during its impending sale.

Harbor View, off Tucker Avenue, may be marketed to any buyer, including those who want to rent it at market rate, within the next month. Since March, the complex had been only offered to nonprofits to continue renting, based on income.

This limited buyer timeframe was to end on Sept. 27, but the property’s broker said the managers of the limited partnership, which owns the buildings, decided to extend it. The owners may place it on the open market in mid-to-late October, he added, but the exact time is not set.

Greg Winter, executive director of Bellingham’s Opportunity Council, said the nonprofit’s staff has been negotiating with owners since June. Their most recent offer was for the sellers’ asking price of $1.3 million, said Winter. He said that his nonprofit has placed the only offer on the building, that he knows.

He added that a possible loan to the Opportunity Council, through a housing agency, could expedite the sale. The status of the loan should be known in the next few days, he said.

The Opportunity Council is a private nonprofit, which serves the homeless and low-income in San Juan, Island and Whatcom Counties.

The listing of the property can be viewed at

Harbor View was built in 1985 with a construction loan from the United States Department of Agriculture, according to a USDA representative. Part of the agreement is to offer income-based rent until the loan is paid off. To rent Harbor View apartments at market rate, the new owner would have to pay off the loan, which would discontinue the USDA agreement.

Rent in the 20-unit complex is set to a reduced rate, which comes to about $650 for a one-bedroom apartment. Six of those units receive a federal subsidy, which can drop the rent up to hundreds of dollars more.

On Sept. 27, an apartment search on Craiglist found only one available in Friday Harbor; a one-bedroom for $1,500 a month.

Housing in the county is scarce, according to a county report, because 43 percent of homes are vacant. That means second homes and vacation rentals could be depleting the islands’ stock of long-term rentals.

Read a more detailed report of the sale by searching “Income-based apartment complex up for sale in Friday Harbor” at Check the Journal for updates.