The landscaping is in, the power is connected and on Sunday morning Edmonds Lutheran Church opened the doors to the first-ever Blokable housing unit. They invited more than 100 citizens and neighbors to tour and inspect the prototype of what could be the next wave in innovative, affordable housing solutions.
With entertainment from the Na Lei O Manu’akepa dancers, hot dogs and soft drinks provided by the church, and ice cream from Umpqua Bank, the event took on a festive air as visitors filled the awning-covered tables to enjoy the food and await their chance to tour the unit.
Edmonds Lutheran has partnered with Blokable and the Compass Housing Alliance to bring the new and innovative approach to bear in addressing our local housing crisis. With the church providing the land, Blokable providing the units and Compass handling the business end, the partners look to provide an estimated 80 new affordable homes in Edmonds’ Aurora Marketplace neighborhood.
Manufactured at the Blokable factory in Vancouver, Wash., the units come in studio, 1, 2 and 3-bedroom configurations. Designed to fit together like Legos, they can be lined up, stacked and assembled in a wide range of configurations.
The studio-sized demonstration unit, which arrived on site a month ago to the day, packs an incredible amount of living space into a mere 260 square feet. It’s outfitted with 20 smart home sensors that monitor everything from internal temperature to water leaks in the toilet, and is so energy-efficient that according to Blokable it requires practically no space heating, even in winter. Constructed of durable, modern, non-combustible materials, the units are designed to be safe, comfortable and last for many decades, company officials said.
The prospect of bringing up to 80 lower-income families into the neighborhood has understandably raised some local concerns. In response, the church, Compass and Blokable staff hosted well-attended community meeting earlier this month where they provided information and answered questions. Subject matter ran the gamut from who will be living here, to when the units will be built, and to the effects on traffic, walkability, safety and other neighborhood concerns. You can read My Edmonds News coverage of that meeting at this link.
But Sunday was a day to tour, look, inspect and imagine what it might be like to live in one of these units. Most visitors were impressed. Comments as they exited the unit included “impressive,” “fabulous,” “beautiful” and “when can I move in?”
If you missed the tour, Compass will provide them on request to individuals and groups. To set up a tour, call or email Compass at 206-474-1060 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel