Samish Way Construction Leads to Promising Future

The renovation of N. Samish Way is beginning to take form. After three years of ownership, the Bellingham Housing Authority has already started “Phase 1” of construction on the Samish Way project. They purchased the Aloha Motel from the City of Bellingham for $1.83 million in April of 2017 with hopes of redeveloping the lot to house living spaces for mixed-income Bellingham residents. Named “The Samish Commons,” it will be the new housing project taking shape on the 66,000-square-foot lot.


The building itself will stand four stories and house 69 units. Included in the project is a parking garage for residents, as well as a new office for the combined headquarters of the Bellingham and Whatcom County Housing Authority. The move of headquarters will not only streamline the work between the two but is also a clear statement of commitment to the neighborhood. Turning the page on the crime-ridden past of the Aloha Motel will take time. Leaders at the Housing Authorities want to be onsite, providing quality insurance to both its residents and the surrounding neighborhoods.


Phase Two of the project will include the construction of two additional residential buildings, scheduled to begin building a year after Phase one. Additionally, included in this second phase is to designate one of the buildings for senior living residents.


The two buildings will have space for commercial business. Brien Thane, the executive director of the Bellingham and Whatcom County Housing Authorities, has been quoted mentioning the desire to have businesses open into evening hours.


“…are looking to have businesses there open into the evening hours, like cafes, restaurants, and bars.” (Roverso)


The generosity of the Bellingham Home fund will allow housing units to be set aside for qualifying groups. Of the entire project, 75% of the apartments will be for low incomes earners, with a portion of that percentage open to only those earning 30% or less of the area median income (AMI).


Construction is estimated to be completed by the spring of 2022. Overall, the Samish Way urban village project will indistinguishably house the full spectrum of incomes. The vision to be intergenerational, mixed-income, and mixed background provides proof of the innovation happening in our city.



Relyea, Kie. “It Was Known for Being a Crime-Ridden Blight. What’s next for the Old Aloha Site?” Bellinghamherald, Bellingham Herald, 31 Oct. 2019,

Roverso, Giovanni. “Samish Way Urban Village Progresses.” Whatcom Watch Online, 2019,

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