A two-year, $1.5 million project to improve safety, upgrade the exterior, increase energy efficiency, and refurbish unit interiors at the 30-unit Island Crest Apartments on Mercer Island, has been completed.

The property, which was built in 1959 and acquired by the King County Housing Authority in 2011, had suffered from deferred maintenance and was in need of a major capital repairs.

The project, which started in 2014, included upgrading the building envelope, replacing deteriorated decks, retrofitting and repairing the elevated walkways and railings, and bringing the electrical and fire and life safety systems up to code. Drainage work to alleviate water intrusion at basement walkways was also completed.

Energy-efficiency enhancements included the installation of densely packed wall and floor insulation, upgraded mechanical ventilation, and LED lighting for all exterior fixtures. The Authority conducted the largest blower door test in Washington state construction history at the property to document significant reductions in building air leakage. Collectively, the upgrades are expected to reduce energy use and significantly improve indoor quality. Water-saving showerheads and faucet aerators in kitchens and bathrooms were also installed. To complete the renovation, the exterior was painted in a pleasing Northwest color palette, the landscaping was enhanced, and the parking lot was seal-coated and line-striped. In addition to the exterior renovations, 13 unit interiors were also refurbished. Remaining units will be upgraded as turnover occurs.

Resident Steve Ward finds the makeover of the complex to be “inspiring”. Ward, who moved into Island Crest in 2009 before KCHA took ownership of the property, loves the transformation. “It’s a happy building,” he said. “The improvement is dramatic. It’s like living in a brand new unit instead of a reconditioned apartment. It’s got that ‘new car’ smell.”

KCHA’s internal upgrade crew completed an extensive interior revamp of Ward’s apartment, including new plumbing and electrical work. Appliances were replaced. Cove heaters were installed. New drywall was put up and painted. New cabinetry, counters and carpet were installed. A new low-flow toilet fixture and bathtub rounded out the updates to the bathroom.

The recently retired Mercer Island school bus driver is enthusiastic about the overhaul. “Staff and contractors were extremely considerate about intrusions and got the project completed in a timely manner. I really appreciate this project and have nothing but good things to say about KCHA,” he said. “The thought and level of detail that went into improving the building has made living here nothing short of inspiring.”

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