Work has begun on $3.5 million in improvements to the apartments and community center at Cascade Homes, a 108-unit public housing complex in Kent.
The project will replace exterior vinyl siding, roofs, and windows on the townhouse-style units at Cascade, which was constructed in 1968. Current building envelopes have reached the end of their useful life span and are tremendously energy inefficient.
The community center will receive an upgrade to its heating and ventilation systems as well as other energy-efficiency improvements.
“As our buildings age, they become more expensive to operate and require more maintenance,” said King County Housing Authority Executive Director Stephen Norman. “This retrofit will extend the life of a critical housing resource and provide good paying jobs in the local construction industry. It will reduce utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions and also convert several existing apartment units into homes that are fully accessible to persons with disabilities.”
This project involves building envelope upgrades for each of the 26 two-story buildings, including the replacement of roofs and the installation of new exterior siding, windows, and energy-efficient exterior lights. Energy costs will be reduced by at least 10 percent for cash-strapped residents when the work is finished.
Enhancements to apartment entrances, extensive attic work including an increase in the insulation levels, and the installation of new bathroom fans to improve indoor air quality, are also underway. Four units will be converted into units that fully comply with Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) with modifications to bathrooms, kitchens, and living areas.
In addition to preserving an important affordable housing resource, the new exterior façade will look more attractive and contemporary: low-maintenance, high performance fiber cement siding with varied surfaces will replace the current monochromatic, institutional-looking vinyl siding. Peaked roofs will be constructed above the unit entryways to create a more inviting “front door.” Low-cost architectural details such as battens around the windows will add visual interest.
The community center at Cascade will also undergo energy-efficiency improvements. A new energy-efficient heat pump system will be installed. The cathedral ceiling in the building will be lowered to reduce loss of heat, and new energy-efficient lighting will be installed.
This rehabilitation project will help offset the dramatic reduction in private construction activity in our region. A recent study measured the economic impact of public housing renovations. It showed that every dollar in construction in public housing generates $2.12 in economic activity through job creation, spending by vendors and suppliers, purchases of goods and services and increased consumer demand. With the unemployment rate in the Puget Sound region lingering at 8.5 percent, these well-paying jobs will help reinvigorate the local economy.
Chris Davies, president of CDK Construction Services, the general contractor for the building envelope project, agrees. “The impact on the construction industry during the recession has been much worse than other parts of the economy,” Davies said. “Projects such as Cascade Homes have allowed us to sustain the current level of employees in our office and create jobs for the trades in the field.”
Architectural services have been provided by ORB Architects. The electrical contractor is Thompson Electrical Constructors, and Alside will provide and install the new siding and windows. The crawl space insulation work is being done by Cascade Commercial Insulation, LLC. Todd Robinson Painting is the painting contractor. Masterwork Roofing, Inc. will install the new roofs. About 40 workers from a variety of trades and occupations will be employed on the project. Work is expected to be completed by August 2011. SKHS Architects designed and RAFN Company is overseeing the ADA unit conversions, which will be completed by the end of January 2011.
KCHA administers a range of quality affordable rental and homeownership programs in the Puget Sound region. The Authority serves more than 17,000 households on a daily basis.