PASCO -- Apartments in east Pasco have been scarce for years.
The affordable farm worker housing on East Spokane Street called the Bishop Topal Haven apartments that opened last year was the first built in that area in a long time, said Rick White, Pasco's community and economic development director.
But now another complex is planned on East "A" Street.
The $11.5 million Tierra Vida apartment complex will include 14 buildings on about 6 acres. It is being built by the Jubilee Foundation/CASA, which is affiliated with Broetje Orchards near Prescott.
They will be next to the single-family houses being built by CASA in the Tierra Vida community on A Street.
"There will be 95 units, which is pretty large," said White. "The last one built in the city, Chapel Hill, has around 125 units, and it's huge. That one opened in 2011."
CASA director Roger Bairstow expects to break ground on the project in early April. A site blessing is planned for 9 a.m. April 11.
Bairstow said the architect, David Commeree of DLC Architecture in Vancouver, worked hard to make the apartments blend with the existing Tierra Vida homes.
"We're really trying to make this much less of a cookie-cutter, linear style, set of buildings," Bairstow said. Instead of being lined up like soldiers, the buildings are angled around the parking lots and green areas.
The intent, he said, is to integrate the complex into the overall look of the Tierra Vida to help draw renters and homeowners together.
"People are a part of the larger community. We aren't just putting people into homes but connecting them so they can help raise one another up. That's the vision," Bairstow said.
About 60 percent of the apartments will have three bedrooms and average 1,409 square feet. There will be four single-bedroom units of various sizes, with the balance having two bedrooms with about 1,200 square feet.
The new complex is modeled after the Vista Hermosa community of rentals that Broetje Orchards built years ago in Prescott.
"We have 50 families on the waiting list for Vista Hermosa at any one time. We've needed affordable housing in the Tri-Cities for years," Bairstow said.
"We're really short of rentals in the Tri-Cities," White said. "The occupancy rates for apartments is quite high, anpit 95 or 93 percent. That is down a bit from last year when, in all the cities, it was 97 to 98 percent. That makes it really hard for people to find a place to live."
He said the problem has been getting financing for multifamily housing. "It's much easier to finance a house," he said.
The apartment complex is being built by New Tradition Contracting of Vancouver, a company CASA and other Broetje affiliates have used before.
When the apartments are completed in about 13 months, CASA will draw names for potential renters from its waiting list but not exclusively.
"These apartments are available to everyone. We'll also be maintaining a waiting list for the new apartments," Bairstow said.
The one question Bairstow hears a lot is: How much will the rent be?
"It's a simple fact that the market rate will dictate rental rates. Though we'll very likely have one or two different levels based on income," Bairstow said.
"These are high-end units, and we truly believe that anybody has the right to live in them. We will not limit access by virtue of who can pay the rent," he said.