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Filling a need: New homes coming to Moses Lake

by JOEL MARTIN
Staff Writer | May 3, 2024 2:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — Last year, looking for a new home in Moses Lake was like a bad dream. The home construction industry was in a slump, and people who needed a place to live were out of luck. Add to that a spate of manufacturers setting up operations in town, and the crunch became even greater.

“We have right now a huge need for housing — almost a critical need for housing — to support all these industries that are coming in,” said Moses Lake City Manager Kevin Fuhr. 

But things are looking up for local home buyers and renters, he said, citing developments at about a dozen locations in town. 

“By the end of the year I would venture to say we’ll have several hundred lots on the market,” he said.

Thirty-one of those lots are in the Knolls Vista neighborhood, built by CAD Homes. That development was barely in the excavation stages last June, CAD Homes owner Drew Scott said in an interview at the time. Now all but three have sold, according to Blake Rollins, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, who handles sales for CAD.

“There's about half of them (where the owners) are moved in,” Rollins said. “And about half of them that are in the queue to close over the next two months.”

CAD is already looking ahead to the next Moses Lake development, on the lower peninsula near Sage Point Elementary School, Rollins said. In the meantime, he said, the company is also working on building housing in Mattawa, where the need is also pretty dire.

Hayden Homes has three developments in Moses Lake now, Maple Ridge and Maple Landing off Grape Drive on the north side of SR 17, and Polo Ridge, which began construction on 60 home sites near Park Orchard Elementary in March and has sold nine homes so far, according to Hayden’s website. There’s a development of about 90 homes in the Montlake area, according to the construction crews who were working on it in March, and another 180-lot project in the Mae Valley area that hasn’t moved dirt yet, Fuhr said.

Because of the Growth Management Act that Washington state passed in 1992, cities and counties put an emphasis on infill or building on vacant lots within the city rather than on the outskirts. 

“We are working with developers to push for infill because the infrastructure is already in place in those areas,” Fuhr said. “We already have water, sewer, everything's ready in those areas, as opposed to new development where they're having to bring stuff in.”

That’s enabled a couple of smaller developments on South Alder Street at the edge of the downtown core, Fuhr said, one at the corner of East Fifth Avenue and the other at East Sixth. The Moses Lake City Council approved tax exemptions for both of those projects at its Feb. 27 meeting.

“These are (in an) older part of town, less desirable area, and that's where these tax exemptions come in,” Fuhr said. “If you're doing these infill (projects) in areas that are a little more challenging, there are some (tax) exemptions out there.”

A few larger multifamily developments are under construction as well, which may serve to alleviate a rental crunch, which has been even tighter the last few years than home sales. Apartment complexes are going up on the peninsula: In the space between Broadway Avenue and Marina Drive, on West Crouse Street and on Interlake Road behind Lep-re-Kon Harvest Foods.

The last of those, called The Cape at Interlake, will be targeted particularly toward a segment of the population that can’t always meet the rental rates at other complexes, said Taylor Hunt, development manager at Tacoma-based Vaughn Bay Construction, which is building the apartments.

“Basically, we’re building 72 affordable apartment units for farm workers,” Hunt said. “We are targeting households at 30%, 40% and 50% of the area median income. So the rents will be restricted to those levels. It's 75% farm workers, 13% set aside for persons with a disability and 12% of the units set aside for large households. We have two-bedrooms, three-bedrooms and four-bedrooms kind of scattered throughout the project.”

The complex will also boast a playground, a community garden and a resident business center, with computers residents can use for things like email and job applications. There will also be a media room so neighbors can watch movies and things together.

Vaughn Bay expects to see people moving in June or July, Hunt said, adding that The Cape at Interlake has come along faster than any other project he’s worked on. 

“The last couple of years (the city) has been averaging about 250 single-family residences a year,” Fuhr said. “So if we have several hundred vacant lots, we hopefully will have at least a couple of years of inventory of lots at our current rate.”

Joel Martin may be reached via email at jmartin@columbiabasinherald.com.

    When this apartment complex on Interlake Road is finished, 72 units will be available for low-income, migrant and disabled renters.
 
 
    This home under construction is one of about 60 being developed by Hayden Homes at Polo Ridge near Park Orchard Elementary School.