Debra Staley, owner of Quilters Workshop on Pioneer Way, could be displaced if the sale of the land her store is on goes through for a proposed affordable housing development. While not opposed to moving, she’s been faced with an unclear future since being notified of the possible sale in January. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Debra Staley, owner of Quilters Workshop on Pioneer Way, could be displaced if the sale of the land her store is on goes through for a proposed affordable housing development. While not opposed to moving, she’s been faced with an unclear future since being notified of the possible sale in January. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Pioneer Way business owner faces murky future

One Oak Harbor business may be displaced if a proposed project for a low-income housing unit on Pioneer Way goes through.

Debra Staley, owner of Quilters Workshop for 16 years, said she’s in limbo as she waits for final word on the sale of the land her store sits on to the Low Income Housing Institute, a nonprofit that wants to build a 51-unit development for workforce and veteran housing.

“It’s just so up in the air,” Staley said. “You can plan, but you can’t really do anything.”

Staley said she’s not opposed to the sale of the property, but her problem is she won’t be eligible to receive relocation assistance from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development until she receives notice that the nonprofit organization has obtained all its funding and is moving forward with the project.

In January, Staley received a letter from Robin Amadon, housing development director for the nonprofit group, explaining the project and that it may displace her business “temporarily or permanently” and explained that because public funds were involved, her business could be eligible for funding under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act.

“If our development project secures funding, proceeds and its development will displace your business from its current location, we will inform you in writing,” the letter states. ”If the proposed project does not proceed, we will notify you of that in writing.”

Staley said she doesn’t have a problem with moving, but any spaces she finds now might not be available by the time she’s eligible for relocation assistance.

The proposed building would potentially have retail space at street level on Pioneer Way, but Staley said she doesn’t plan on staying downtown if she moves.

The private nonprofit organization presented its plans at a public meeting in mid-April. The development would include 25 units for those making 50 percent of the area median income and 25 units would be for those who make 30 percent of the area median income, which is $77,300 in Island County. Of those, 20 units would be reserved for veterans.

Low Income Housing Institute has not yet submitted an application to the city for its project.

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