BELLEVUE -- There were tears of joy in Bellevue on Friday evening, as residents of Highland Village Apartments were told they could stay in their homes.

The plan to save one of the last affordable housing options in the area was unveiled to residents during a community meeting. The City of Bellevue, the King County Housing Authority, and members of the state legislature all worked together to make it happen.

"For Bellevue, this was in a sense a test of, do we really mean we want to work on affordable housing? And this was an opportunity that came up to make something happen and we were determined to do that," said Bellevue Mayor John Stokes.

Instead of being re-developed and sold as condos, the 76 apartments will now be bought by the housing authority. Officials say rent will be staying the same and no one will have to move.

"This is gonna be the greatest good news of the year. This is Merry Christmas. This is Merry Christmas. I love it,” said Michael Simekhs, who lives at Highland Village.

The mayor said that upon hearing community concerns, even the developer changed his mind. Intracorp had submitted plans to redevelop the property to build 87 new, for sale townhomes.

City leaders called it an unprecedented agreement in favor of affordable housing.

"I have a daughter and she's in school," said Simekhs. "This is really going to be really really good news for her. Thank you! It's a win for the kids."

Simekhs said Highland Village is the only way his daughter could ever go to school in the Bellevue School District. He said the apartment complex is the only place he could afford in Bellevue.

The King County Housing Authority expects to complete the acquisition of the property within the next 30 days and renovate the property over the next two years, while keeping rents at or near their current levels.