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Friday, April 30, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Weekly interest and loan rates | Home values

Northwest stock contest 2004 | Consumer affairs

Stephen Dunphy / Times staff columnist
The Newsletter: Seattle's affordable housing

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One of the things that makes downtown Seattle a vibrant place is the mix of uses there, including ones seldom mentioned: affordable housing and social-service agencies.

Norm Rice, former mayor and now head of the Federal Home Loan Bank, said housing and social-service agencies are a part of this downtown, not pushed to the fringes as in other cities. Rice spoke yesterday at the annual business breakfast at the Matt Talbot Center, which provides substance-abuse treatment to homeless people downtown.

Rice pointed to the Belltown View Apartment, providing about 60 units of affordable housing. It's a $13 million project that's a partnership of the federal bank, city, state, a local bank and the landowner. Such housing makes it possible for a dishwasher at a trendy Belltown restaurant to live in the area.

Rice said that in the past 10 years, the federal bank has provided about $8 million in grants to downtown projects. "But we're never alone," he said. "It's the public-private partnerships that work."

Stock mutual funds posted a $15.8 billion inflow in March, compared with the $26.2 billion inflow in February, according to the Investment Company Institute, the mutual-fund industry group. Among stock funds, aggressive-growth funds had an outflow of $1.1 billion, vs. an inflow of $1.7 billion in February.

Bond funds had an inflow of $7.7 billion in March, compared with an inflow of $1.5 billion in February. Money-market funds had an outflow of $10.9 billion in March, compared with an outflow of $21 billion in February.

The Chevy Chase golf course in Port Townsend has been sold to golf-course architect Michael Asmundson, according to The Leader, the weekly newspaper in that city. Asmundson plans to upgrade it and develop 40 home sites.

The course, built in 1925, is one of the oldest in the state. It was bought in 1947 by Philip Bailey and three Seattle partners. Bailey took full control in 1949, and it has been in the Bailey family since then. The family will continue to own and operate the Chevy Chase Beach Cabins and the historic inn across the road.

Asmundson is a native Northwesterner who was involved with the Coeur d'Alene Resort in Idaho and the expansion of the Chevy Chase course in 1997. A plus for the Port Townsend economy: Asmundson plans to shift his company headquarters from Arizona to Port Townsend, according to The Leader.

A record year for the sale of retail properties in 2003, according to Colliers International, a commercial real-estate company. Retail property in the Puget Sound area worth $624 million changed hands, with $322 million in the second half of the year.

Low interest rates and demand for retail investments fueled the market, Colliers said. Fourteen properties sold for more than $5 million, led by the Meridian Center downtown for $54.5 million.

High gas prices are pushing sales of scooters. The Motorcycle Industry Council, a trade group, said scooter sales in the first quarter rose 21 percent from a year earlier, with sales of Vespa and Piaggio scooters up 72 percent.

Here's why: A scooter gets as much as 60 miles to the gallon, meaning it can travel more than 120 miles on a single fill-up of a typical 2.5-gallon tank. The average SUV will travel about 30 miles on the same amount of fuel.

Stephen H. Dunphy's phone: 206-464-2365. Fax: 206-382-8879. E-mail:

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