Senior Housing on the Key Peninsula moves forward

Staff Report

The Mustard Seed Projects (TMSP) plan to build senior housing on the Key Peninsula is moving forward, and the public is invited to share their ideas of what they want and need as they consider aging in community.

In broad strokes, TMSPs plan is to build 10 one- and two-bedroom cottages for independent living, three 10-bedroom homes for assisted living, with a central commons to house a café, office and meeting spaces.

“There are days when I am completely amazed by all we have done since we presented the results of our feasibility study last November, and equally amazed by all that remains to be done ,” said TMSP Founder and Executive Director Edie Morgan.

TMSP, established in 2007, is a nonprofit senior service organization located in Key Center. With a small staff, a cadre of dedicated volunteers and partnerships, the organization provides senior transportation and volunteer assistance, produces a resource guide for services and holds informational meetings once a month.

Senior housing has been identified as a top priority for years. With a generous donation from longtime supporter Lois Crandall, TMSP hired a housing consultant who did a preliminary study to confirm the need for housing and to determine that it was economically feasible. Last November the results of that study were shared.

The next steps have been many. Sara Thompson, board president, gave a brief summary: “We established a housing advisory committee, bringing together people with the expertise we needed to move the project forward. We have received a predevelopment loan to allow us to fund the next steps. We have hired a project management team –– Mauro Hernandez and Sharon Nielson from the Portland area –– and are working to secure a site,” she said.

Thompson said they have also hired an architecture firm to determine site suitability and to design a concept plan. 

“Together, the project manager and the architect will determine the actual costs –– not a theoretical budget as we had with the initial feasibility study, but the cost of actual site development and building as well as operational costs.

“This is really still part of due diligence. We need to know that we can secure the financing and raise the additional funds to make this a successful venture. We will be planning a capital campaign as we fully understand the budget,” she added.

The architectural firm Rice Fergus Miller, from Bremerton, was hired last month.

Steve Rice, who will be the chief architect for the project, has deep roots on the Key Peninsula. He grew up in Minter, and fell in love with architecture as a youngster when he watched his parents new home take shape there, Thompson said.

According to Thompson, the firm has experience with senior housing, has worked extensively in Pierce County and brings expertise in environmentally sustainable building. Rice and his team have made several visits to the Key Peninsula to get a good feeling for the sensibility of the region. And they are excited to begin getting community input into the project, she said.

The meeting, scheduled for 4 to 6:30 p.m. at Blend Wine Shop (8914 Key Peninsula Hwy N, Lakebay) on Tuesday, Sept 29, will be informal. 

“This will be an opportunity to meet the project manager and the architect team and to give feedback to the team before they begin concept design work about what people living on the Key Peninsula want and need as they consider aging in community,” Thompson said.

Comments from community members will be taken throughout the meeting. The public is welcome. For information, call TMSP office at (253) 884-9814.