Central Seattle tenants already know what is coming these days when a new company buys their building on Capitol Hill, in the Central District, or on First Hill. But before the rents get jacked up at First Hill’s Panorama House, a 52-year-old, 19-story, concrete highrise on University just east of Boren, the building’s owners are taking things one step farther. By May or June, new owners Security Properties and related building management company Madrona Ridge Residential are planning to empty Panorama of residents before a massive overhaul. Here’s part of a message we received from a resident:
At the open house, it was announced that Security Properties intends to renovate the entire building and, in order to do so, they will be forcing everyone to move out. They said that they intend to have the residents begin moving out as early as February of next year, and will have the entire building empty by May or June in order to completely renovate the entire building.
Their justification for emptying the building is that it will be easier, safer, and more convenient to have the building be empty. They plan on upgrading the building electrical and plumbing systems, as well as renovating the common areas and each individual unit.
According to city records, Security Properties is planning to carve 263 units out the building currently home to 179 apartments while renovating “existing amenity and rooftop spaces,” and doing exterior repairs to existing facade, windows and decks as necessary. The building is also set for a new paint job. UPDATE: A representative for Security tells us that the plan to increase the number of units in the building has been scrapped while the other upgrades are still on the table.
Security paid $73.9 million for the apartment building in a transaction completed last week, according to county records.
The plan to empty the building for the work appears to be entirely legal but we’re checking with the city and the Washington Tenants Union to learn more.
A recent listing shows a 2 BR apartment in the building available for $1,525.
The Panorama resident who told CHS about the situation says residents are concerned about the near 80% boost in rent that they’ve been told to expect by others in similar situations. We have messages out to Security Properties about the plans. UPDATE: A person familiar with the plans but not authorized to go on the record said the company is planning to provide generous relocation assistance above and beyond legal requirements and will extend the benefit to all residents regardless of income. We’ve been promised a statement on the plans.
UPDATE x2: Here is the statement from Security. “We are very sympathetic that relocation to a new apartment is not easy or desirable,” it reads. “To help ease this transition, we will offer all building residents financial relocation assistance, in addition to a full refund of their initial security deposit.” More below:
Security Properties purchased the Panorama House on September 5th from its previous owners, who decided to sell the 52-year-old building after owning it since 1962.
We’re investing more than $15M to improve the interior and exterior building systems. This includes a complete replacement of the current electrical systems, improving fire and life safety, fully restoring apartment interiors and common areas and adding washers and dryers to all apartment homes.
Because much of the renovation work requires aspects of the building’s apartment homes and common areas to be inhabitable, all apartments will need to be empty while these new investments are made. The inhabitable conditions include long stretches of time without power and water, as well as heavy overall construction activity.
We are very sympathetic that relocation to a new apartment is not easy or desirable. To help ease this transition, we will offer all building residents financial relocation assistance, in addition to a full refund of their initial security deposit.
We will work closely with the City of Seattle to abide by all tenant relocation laws. We anticipate relocation will begin in early 2015, but soon will have a more definitive schedule for residents and more information about financial relocation support.
The tenant says the management company representatives have said rents won’t be raised prior to the move-out, tenants will receive their security deposits, and the relocation assistance will be provided.
But the tenant tells CHS that there is no way to keep a First Hill community from being torn apart in the change:
But what they can’t do, obviously, is ensure that a long standing, close knit community of friends and neighbors, some of whom have lived there for more than 40 years, will be able to stay in their home neighborhood, near they people that they know, with the amenities that they’re used to within walking distance. I’d be surprised if a lot of these people will even be able to stay in the city, let alone First Hill.
“It’s business, of course,” he writes, “so the money to be made trumps the lives that they’re forcibly changing.”
KING reporter Linda Brill “lived at Panorama House and moved out after hearing rumors that the building was for sale,” the story notes.