Development News: New Life for Bel Roy and its surroundings

First some background: While the Bel Roy Apartments may not be landmarked, they are certainly historic. The Moderne building was constructed in 1931 and designed by famed architects and UW professors, Lionel H. Pries and William J. Bain. TThis was one of the last projects the two architects built together as their partnership dissolved when the Depression took hold. Pries remained at the University and mentored a generation of influential architects including Minoru Yamasaki and Ken Anderson. Bain went on to start what would become one of the largest architecture firms in the world, NBBJ. The Bel Roy was hailed as one of the first modernist buildings in Seattle, incorporating flat geometric lines and zigzagging floor plans, a huge departure from the previously popular revivalist styles.

Unfortunately the Bel Roy now stands in the midst of languishing houses and its historic fame is hard to see through the overgrown shrubs. But the owners of the property along with the development firm Point32 have some big plans for the old building along with five homes adjacent to it.

View Bel Roy in a larger map

Although the project is in a nacsent stage, I spoke with Chris Rogers, CEO of Point23 and former resident of the Bel Roy, about what we might see in the future. He said they intend to refurbish the Bel Roy and build a new residential building to the Northeast that respects the historic style. He particularly mentioned adding some open space like the big courtyard gardens of the 20’s and 30’s. He also wanted to, what he called, “finish” the streetscape by improving the sidewalk with landscaping and street trees. I asked if they were considering any commercial space since its just down the block from the commercial strip with Artemis/The Lookout. He said current zoning did not allow this but many neighbors had shown interest in some small commercial space.


View Larger Map

It’s not clear whether the buildings will be apartments or condos but Rogers said they wanted to build a “diversity of units”. There is no set timeline for the project but don’t expect construction until late 2010 or early 2011. As the plans are developed more they will go through the design review process but please feel free to leave your opinions here, Point32 is trying to get as much community input as possible.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

7 thoughts on “Development News: New Life for Bel Roy and its surroundings

  1. Cool building, I’ve often admired noticed its style . Those old windows are very cool but I bet they don’t do too much to block out the sound of I=5.

  2. I used to live there. Great view, nice floor plan, but antiquated electrical and plumbing. And the windows were hideous for noise and allowing all of the soot from I-5 up. I hope that they get new windows, but windows that respect the architecture, not some vinyl monstrosities.

  3. I have been a longtime resident of The Bel Roy apartments. I looked at many other properties here before moving to Seattle from the midwest, and this building is by far the most quaint and unique of any that I have ever seen anywhere in The Northwest. It would be most unfortunate for those of us who do not have an expendable income to have to move elsewhere in the event that this buidling does become a condominium. There are already so many random as well as vacant condominiums in this city, and it is becoming more scarce to find such a beautiful apartment complex as this one; one that is also still affordable for the more average working class. So it is my sincerest hope that the property owners, the development firm and the current management take into considerable account the wishes of its loyal patrons. As there are several of us long-term occupants who share this same deeply-held sentiment. To date, the owners of The Bel Roy have been wonderful to their tenants. I hope that this trend continues on into the future.

    Thank you in gratitude, Kathryn Tilson

  4. Firstly, I’d write the management company and ask if they’d have a meeting with the residents so they can spell out what they are planning. I lived over at 733 Summit while they were remodelling that project, and the owners and everything about that experience was dreadful. In retrospect, I’d have been more proactive so that I could have been informed.

    Secondly, I’m skeptical about this project being converted to condos. Its a lovely property, but right now, the developers would most likely not be getting any financing for a condominium project.

    Having said all of this, I’m also skeptical that your rent won’t go up $250-$500 for a newly remodelled apartment. Our unit at 733 was going to be something like $350 more per month.

  5. If I were a tenant at the Bel Roy, I’d start getting all of my ducks in a row in case I had to move. Judging from their bios, the people at point32 seem to know what they are doing, and have been involved with several multi-million dollar projects. There is no way that they will buy the Bel Roy, retrofit and upgrade the building to their high standards for free. They don’t seem like the kind of people who are prone to messin’ around. A lot of us apartment dwellers become quite attached to our homes, but the facts are these, we don’t own our apartments. From the owners perspective it’s a business. If they are going to sink money into a project, they’re going to want to get positive income in return. As long as they follow all of the laws that the city has put forth, you’re at their mercy. On the upside, I’m positive they will do their best to retain the character and integrity of the building. The cool architecture is what probably drew them to this project. On the downside, judging from the previous comments, a lot of work needs to be done, and this costs money. You might not like the fact that life as you know it is going to change, but I don’t think they’re going to be jerks about it.

  6. So “Point32 is trying to get as much community input as possible”.

    Right. A month or two after finally holding a meeting with tenants, where they were told that the Belroy itself would probably not go condo, a piece in the SJC on Sept 17th said exactly the opposite. Typical property management style…look the tenants in the eyes and basically lie.

    When asked why they were considering building condos when we have such an obvious glut, they replied “Well, ours will be different…high-end condos for the upscale market.”

    LMFAO. Yeah, and there’s such an urgent demand for upscale condos isn’t there? So much demand that Point32’s “Art Stable” 5-unit building has had a condo available for 8 months now, and no one’s grabbing any of the commercial spaces on the first floor of the building.

    I’m sure Chris is a nice man, with good intentions. But he needs to be more open with the tenants, and show more respect for the neighborhood.

    Our bet is that this project will never happen. At least not for 5-10 years.

    But fellow Belroy tenants beware: Keep in mind that the owner of the Belroy is the same man involved in the Lock Vista condo fiasco last year, where elderly residents on fixed income found notices on their doors telling them they had 90 days to move out. Does he really want to be twice burned, or is he so far removed from the little people that he just doesn’t give a damn?

    Something we’ve always wondered.

  7. I am interested to know where you are at in the renovation of the apartments as well as the new building next door. My husband and I would like to buy or rent a space in Seattle for us and our dog, Tug. Our grown daughter lives there and I am interested in opening a business there. Can you give me a timeline?