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New cell towers aid affordable housing

Some public notice billboards for new cell phone towers have recently popped up in the neighborhood, all at properties run by the Seattle Housing Authority. In what’s news to me (at least) the housing authority has been renting out roof space for years to cell phone and wireless companies.

One antenna is slated for Lictonwood, at 9009 Greenwood Ave. N., which is for low-income residents. It’s just a few blocks up from Safeway, and has 80 one-unit apartments.

Another antenna is proposed for Phinney Terrace, at 6561 Phinney Ave. N., right across the street from the Phinney Neighborhood Center. It’s senior housing, with 51 one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The third antenna is slated for Fremont Place, 4601 Phinney Ave. N, which has 31 senior housing units.

“We’ve been renting our rooftops for antennas for some time,” says housing authority Communications Director Virginia Felton, who knows of antennas being installed on agency buildings for at least the past 10 years. “We do it as a way we can increase revenue we can put into low-income housing.”

Annual rental rates for each antenna range from $7,600 to $25,000, according to Felton, who says 17 housing authority buildings are graced with anywhere from one to four pieces of cell phone and wireless hardware, each. 

These three proposed cell towers, along with at least another seven others proposed for a range of other buildings across in the city (not all on housing authority units), are all being requested by Cricket Communications.