Pea Patch Property
During the pandemic, OICF, OPAL Community Land Trust (OPAL) and Orcas Community Resource Center (OCRC) worked together to provide a Shelter program, serving those community members who were unsheltered.
This experience increased our collective awareness of the challenges rural communities face addressing homelessness. We formed the Coalition on Homelessness on Orcas (COHO), to focus on finding housing solutions. We hired a local coordinator and secured a Rural Technical Assistance (RTA) grant from Washington State. This grant provides a team of three experts who have experience in housing and services in other rural communities. We have been meeting monthly to identify the needs, and consider options.
Simultaneously, the Orcas Island Food Bank has been developing a plan to build a new permanent facility, as they have outgrown their current space. The Food Bank invited OCRC to participate in planning a co-located facility because they have many common clients.
We became aware of the impending sale of an 11 acre property on the north side of Enchanted Forest Road, the last portion of what was the Lavender Family Farm. This property is part of the estate of Lina and Dave McPeake. It’s listed as “55 Pea Patch Lane.” The property borders the Funhouse Commons, Children’s House, Salmonberry School and the Senior Center.
After several discussions facilitated by the RTA Team, COHO and the Food Bank have combined efforts and are working to purchase the Pea Patch property to create a nonprofit campus that will include the Food Bank, OCRC offices, a day use facility and housing.
Heather Stansbury, the current COHO coordinator, is acting as project manager. Environmental Works has been engaged to guide site and building design. They are the non-profit architectural firm that designed April’s Grove with OPAL.
OICF has stepped up to try to purchase the property. As a neutral convenor, OICF is uniquely qualified for this role. OICF will form a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) to be the purchasing entity.
Mary Clure, Co-Owner and Managing Broker for Orcas Island Realty and OICF Board member, has been selected to be OICF’s agent (She will recuse herself from voting on related Board actions). OICF has also retained Sallye Quinn for legal advice to guide us through the process.
The property was listed on December 20th for $3.75 M. Mary Clure is in the process of presenting an offer. If the lawyer who is representing the McPeake Estate accepts our offer, OICF needs to have letters of commitment showing proof of funds in hand within a week of our offer being accepted.
Hilary Canty and Lisa Byers are reaching out to islanders to ask for letters demonstrating their commitment to contribute to prove we have sufficient funds to purchase the property. If enough islanders commit sufficient funds, OICF will form the LLC and secure the property.
There are three houses on the land that are currently rented. The intent is to maintain those rentals and retain the Specks to manage the property as they are currently doing.
Working in concert with the neighboring nonprofits, the development plans aim to include sufficient buffers, potentially shared parking and pathways, and carefully sited housing providing much needed homes for individuals and families with lower incomes. There is good potential for alternative energy sources to be included in the design as well.
The timeline is long. It will likely take many years to finalize the design and raise the funds needed to fully complete the project. The goal is to work in phases. The RTA Team has also provided information on several public grant opportunities that could be utilized for various parts of this project.
If we can turn this vision into a reality, it will have a tremendous impact on the many community members who rely on the social safety net to live on Orcas. We envision a campus that is beautiful, inclusive and convenient. A gathering place for intergenerational activities, such as a community garden and space to learn and teach skills. Much like those who envisioned a Senior Center, a Medical Center and a Performance Center in the past, this is our opportunity to leave a legacy and support the community for generations to come.
Pea Patch Property Update #2
January 16, 2023
As we continue to explore the possibility of a common nonprofit campus on the property being sold by the McPeake Estate on Enchanted Forest Lane, I will be providing periodical updates for the organizations involved. OICF has been advised that confidentiality is critical during the purchasing phase of the project, so these updates will hold the information we have been cleared to share. If you have additional questions, please email me or call 360-376-6423.
OICF signed a purchasing agreement on Tuesday, January 10. Included in the agreement is a several month period for due diligence, allowing us to appraise and evaluate the property. It is a complicated parcel of a little over 11 acres. It includes wetlands and is under the airport overlay. There are existing structures, some in fair condition, some in poor condition.
During the next several months, we will need to gain a clear understanding of the zoning and usage possibilities, as well as any hazards and environmental issues that may exist. The studies are planned and timed to provide critical information to base the decision to move forward with the purchase at each stage.
If, after we fully understand the complexities of the property, we are ready to move forward, we need to provide proof of funds for the purchase on June 15 and would plan to close the first week of July. Proof of funds are commitment letters from individuals that total the final purchase price. We are actively seeking financial commitments to complete the proof of funds. If you have someone you think may be interested in contributing, please have them contact me or email Lisa Byers or call her at 360-376-3191.
During this period, the Orcas Community Resource Center (OCRC), OPAL Community Land Trust, and the Orcas Food Bank are working with an architectural firm to develop a schematic site plan. The current plan includes a building for the Food Bank and OCRC, a day use center for individuals who lack adequate housing, and rental housing for islanders with lower incomes. Funding for the construction will be sought from County, State, and Federal agencies, as well as private foundations and individual contributions. The time frame to build out is very loosely — 5 years.
The day use center is intended to serve community members who are living without shelter or in a shelter lacking basic services such as water, electricity, cooking, or hygiene facilities. The center would likely have laundry and shower facilities, provide access to the internet and mail services, and be staffed with individuals skilled in providing support to those using the center.
The others who are working on this project are Heather Stansbury and the Rural Technical Assistance Team (RTA). Heather was hired as the coordinator for the Coalition for Housing on Orcas (COHO), which launched during the pandemic as a continuation of the Shelter Program. Heather is now taking on a coordination role for this project. She has been keeping in contact with the multiple neighbors who border the property. The RTA team has been instrumental in helping us understand the process for this type of project, connecting us to the resources needed as we move forward.
Until we have a fuller understanding of the development restrictions required due to the Airport Overlay and wetland setbacks, we will not be able to develop a complete site plan. We hope to have a ‘bubble map’ soon, that will provide a general idea of the plans. That will be distributed with a future update.
Please feel free to reach out to me with questions so I can address them as best as possible. Any information that is shared in these updates is fine to share with the community. Our goal is to honor the need for confidentiality and be as transparent as possible. Tricky, but hopefully possible.
All the best —
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