Residents face more than hiked rents after $73.9 million purchase of First Hill apartment tower

The Panorama House building at 1100 University (Image: King County)

The Panorama House building at 1100 University (Image: King County)

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.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 11.01.45 AMUPDATE: KING 5 stopped by Panorama House and spoke with Donna Cable about the sad situation for her and other tenants in the building:

KING reporter Linda Brill “lived at Panorama House and moved out after hearing rumors that the building was for sale,” the story notes.

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

77 thoughts on “Residents face more than hiked rents after $73.9 million purchase of First Hill apartment tower

  1. This company is horrible! They are not a NW company and they own the 700 Broadway and they are basically a horrible management company that is only in it for the $$… the improvements will be cheap and shabby and the management alone is horrible. I once rented at 700 Broadway and they are just the worst apartments on the Hill.

    • “I once rented at 700 Broadway and they are just the worst apartments on the Hill.”

      I don’t know…there’s steep competition for that title! Maybe CHS should have a contest where tenants could enter their buildings for consideration?

    • I’m just stunned that RENT CONTROL has been outlawed in this city since the 1980’s. I’m from NY and they know better than that…

      • How is that exactly helping in NY? People can still get evicted because of “renovation projects”, same in SF.

        Of course, it prevents techies from moving in… until the rent goes up so much that cost of “renovations” is an acceptable fee.

  2. I agree this totally sucks. But it’s a 52 year old building that is (by looking at the picture above) in some serious need of some tender loving renovation. It’s awful to have to move, especially when you’ve lived in a place for 40 years, but I doubt they would be happy living in this building during the type of renovation it will need to bring it up to 21st Century standards.

    I hope the city with find funds and a way to work with the residents to help as many of them stay as close to the neighborhood as possible, but alas, life goes on and sometimes it’s unfair and sucks and you have to move.

    • “[E]asier, safer, and more convenient” for them. If the building electrical and plumbing systems are in need of upgrades, I suggest the entire building take an *immediate* class action suit against the property for making them live under conditions that are so horrendous it requires the evacuation of the entire building.

      • first, nobody’s MAKING the residents stay there. matter of fact, sounds like the new property owners want the residents to leave. and nobody’s saying that life in the building is horrendous; just that outdated systems need an upgrade and it’d be easier to do with the building empty.

  3. Oh, dear, these vultures want NONE of the current residents back afterwards. It really was a very sweet building; even as it evolved in recent years from mostly retirees of modest means it retained much charm. They had their own old-timey beauty salon, fer crissakes.

  4. It’s kinda difficult to replace electrical and plumbing in a building full of people. Makes perfect sense to me. This is not really unlike the Marlboro building a few doors down that did a similar thing (except that was supposed to be condos before the crash). I loved touring that building mid construction, so much history.

    While it’s sad to see “cheap” housing go, its good to see things being made nicer and more safe. When you rent, there are no guarantees… (unfortunately, to an extent).

  5. Further examples of the free market fucking over current housing prices. For every saying “add supply” you get this. Sure they’re adding nearly 100 more units, but at 80% increases in rent over the already market rates. Pushing out middle class and lower income folks to make room for upper class assholes. This doesn’t add supply, it just gentrifcates the entire city.

      • I find it funny, that Capitol Hill is an area where we celebrate diversity. Hell, we have a flag that we wave because of diversity…. why don’t people embrace gentrification? It just means the area is becoming more colorful and DIVERSE… embrace the change, but don’t embrace huge, heartless companies.

      • There is nothing to embrace when you lose your home and are forced out of the city because of the influx of tech nerds making housing ridiculously unaffordable to people who have lived on the hill for decades. Between that and our favorite retail and eateries being forced to close and the beautiful buildings being torn down and replaced with overpriced condos in sterile corporate looking buildings….yeah I don’t really see the upside for anyone that is actually from the hill or anyone that isn’t on Microsoft or Amazon’s ridiculous payroll.

      • Yes, all those people have less rights that the one here for decades.

        What’s your opinion about those home owners that have been here for decades that sell their homes to developers?

      • Exactly and well said. Yes I do blame the Amazonians from pushing out us lower class people on the hill. I have lived for over twenty years. I graduated from Cornish and managed Broadway Grill for over ten years. You r comments are spot on!

    • I’m really getting tired of comments which call “upper class” people “assholes.” That is a gross generalization. Yes, some of them deserve that name, but so do some people in the middle class and poorer people. Those with some means do not deserve to be called “assholes” just because they can afford a more expensive place to live.

  6. I want to correct some misperceptions in the comments above, suggesting this old building probably needed to be renovated anyway.

    Gutting the building is not necessary. I live in Panorama House. It looks a little boring on the outside, but the inside is extremely nice. It was well built to begin with, using high-quality, durable materials. It has been very well maintained. My apartment has very nice hardwood floors and tile throughout. The windowsills are marble. The closets are huge. The bathrooms are really nice (and colorful! my vintage pink bathtub is awesome). The building was constructed before the era of particleboard and plastic finishes. This is the nicest place I’ve ever lived. Hell, the finishes are higher quality than the recently renovated, much more expensive Marlborough apartments across the street. The idea that Panorama House needs to be completely overhauled is absurd. Due for repainting? The outside of the building was just painted about 2 years ago. The beige color was a drab choice, but it’s not a sign of decay.

    Do the plumbing and electrical systems need upgrading? Probably yes, eventually, although I’ve lived in much older buildings with much older infrastructure. There’s no good reason to evict everyone, unless you want to gut the building, turn it into “luxury” studios, and double the rents. Because apparently Capitol Hill needs more luxury studios and fewer regular apartments.

    • While it may look nice in your unit, do you know if the building has galvanized pipes? Electrical that meets current codes? The vintage often used Zinsco breaker panels which are just awful and can actually be dangerous. You practically have to gut a place to conduct these invasive renovations. There is no doubt that new windows are needed. Just makes sense to do so with a clean slate.

      Hopefully the renovations can be done while keeping some of the vintage charm in place.

      I hate hate hate seeing affordable housing going away but if I were a property owner, I’d hate having others tell me how to spend my money.

      • Zinsco breakers and galvanized pipe? Give me a fricking break. This isn’t some rambler in Ballard that some old biddy lived in for sixty years and never blew a breaker. The building’s insurers would have mare sure any Zinsco was gone decades ago. Probably any galvanized as well (although it’s probably plumbed in copper. Galvanized was the house of cheap builders, and Panorama House was built as high-end housing.

        There’s nothing wrong with that building. Just more stupid, short-sighted greed. If they want to maximize the revenue, just up the rent as people move out. You could easily get 3k for a unit in there.

      • If it doesn’t contain those elements, great. I have seem many multiunit dwellings that have in the recent past.

        If it about maximizing revenue, then they are smart business people, aren’t they?

        The beauty of when you own something is you can do is you wish. Even if that means moving people out to refresh your property, maximize it and charge the most for it.

        If you dislike that mentality then you have to either buy or accept reality and keep on moving as things change. Sorry for you…

    • Sorry this is happening to you! I live up the street and have often idly imagined eventually living there. Now that’s dead, since I don’t want to live in a little over-priced cube.

      I wonder what’s the long-term plan for all these new tiny apartments all over the Hill? Are they all always going to be for young single professionals new to the city who don’t have spouses and children and stuff? As urban density increases, I’d assume more families are going to want to live in the city, but there’s not much non-subsidized housing that can lodge more than two people who share a bedroom.

    • It isn’t up to Microsoft, Amazon etc. standards and in order to attract their overpaid salaries, they need to add granite counter tops and everything else that you see on the flip shows on TV.

      • Isn’t it just incredible how all the thousands of Amazon and Microsoft employees have exactly the same tastes? Not a single one of them lives in a pre-war building, or a single-family house with older furnishings, or a mother-in-law unit. It’s almost like it’s a gross, unsubstantiated generalization, but nope, it’s totally true!

  7. $74 mil times 12% divided by 12 months divided by 263 units equals $2,813 per month, which is what they will likely be charging for rent post-renovations.

  8. Now I gotta wonder if I want to share a neighborhood with people who’d pay that much to live in Ambulance Alley. I’m guessing it’ll have a high turnover, with a continual rotation of soon-burned-out, overpaid Amazombies struggling to cram their cars out onto Boren every morning for their forty-minute, ten-block commute.

    • Well THAT took long enough….OK, now you’ve blamed Amazon employees (check)– sure you don’t want to throw in some disparaging/bitter/jealous condemnation of Microsoft employees too, while you’re at it?

      • To quote one of our marvelous civic “leaders”

        “We cannot be concerned about the people who are here we should only be concerned about the people who are coming”

      • It’s just how Amazon operates. They staff up endless doomed projects in a scattergun market attack, pulling in people from all over by throwing money at them, and when most of the projects inevitably close in a few months to a year or so, these people are stuck with high rent and often owing Amazon money for salary pre-bonuses.

      • Screw Amazon and Microsoft. It must be nice to have enough money to not have to worry about paying your bills and having to constantly find a new place to live while each time you are forced to move getting further and further towards the outskirts of Cap Hill and eventually into Renton or Northgate just to be able to afford to live. Tech companies are flooding the area with overpaid tech workers that in turn are displacing long term residents and good people when their rents are being forced through the roof to accommodate these pricks because they know the tech nerds have the money to pay 50% more. Good for the landlords sure. But it’s hurting a lot of people. I can’t wait until this bubble bursts and they are all jobless and facing what most of us on the hill have been facing for the past couple of years. What is happening is wrong.

      • So….just to clarify— you’re waiting for technology to just go away, so all the people that fuel the production and development of these tools and gizmos you use every day can all lose their jobs, have to scrounge for a job to make the same money that baristas, actors, and artists now make? Yeah, that’ll happen. Count on it. Good luck with that.

      • The majority of these tech jobs are not meant to be long term jobs. They are temp jobs like setting up network systems etc. they just get carried over and often go unnoticed. The minute these companies start realizing that they don’t need a bazillion programmers, network engineers, system analysts etc to do the job then there will be mass layoffs. It happened in the 90’s with the dot com crash and it will happen again.

      • Wishful thinking, Bob. It’s not going to happen. And please direct your anger at the landlords who are the ones most responsible for rising rents, not at those who are simply getting a place to live and one they can afford.

      • I knew a woman so outraged by the gentrification on the Hill she took her act and modest income to a sketchy part of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn–where rents are going up precisely because white middle-class 20-somethings are moving in. It’s never occurred to her to ask what the people living there think of her type.

  9. “Security Properties is planning to carve 263 units out the building currently home to 179 apartments”

    There, for all you simpering little Pollyanna’s who are so willing to give this company the benefit of the doubt is the meat of the story. They want to take 179 good-sized, high-quality apartments and divvy them up.

    What a shame. Panorama House is a beautiful building. I would much rather see it go condo than have this happen.

    • so what? fitting more people into existing structures that don’t require us to tear down “historic” auto row buildings should be something to cheer about. like it or not, seattle’s growing and needs places to put people. i know nothing about the company that bought the building or the property management company but i like the idea of renovating a 52 year old building so that it stays current with existing code and gives more people a place to live in the same footprint.

    • At least the re-carving part has been scrapped, so now the Panorama House will remain in its intended state with human-sized dwellings, and not be carved up into 475 ft “open one bedrooms” or whatever.

      Still feel sorry for the people who thought they’d get to live out their lives in the building–the ones I see toddling up Union Street to QFC with their little grocery carts.

  10. Hey CHS, how about interviewing and running a story on some of the displaced residents of this place and the many others around the hill that are continually losing their homes? Put a name/face and give a voice to these people who are continually being displaced by the skyrocketing rents and overpriced apartments/condos that are spreading like wildfire. My apartment on the hill in 2009 was $900 for a 400sq ft studio. That same apartment in 2014 only five years later now rents for $1650. I have had to move multiple times since then for the same reason. Remember when the Marion Apartment residents were forced out and the 40+ year tenant/manager whacked himself and set the building on fire because he had nowhere to go? There are many like him that are losing everything and all we are hearing is “well it’s gentrification, we are becoming more diverse deal with it.”

  11. Amazon does not overpay; in fact they’re famous for mediocre salaries.
    I just bought a condo on First Hill, and sold my own. I work at a non profit and I’m definitely not overpaid. So lay off the idea that it’s only young overpaid tech workers driving up prices. They account for maybe 10% of those who live in my building.

  12. There is no mention in the article of the current or planned size of the new units. People should have enough space to live humanely.

    Where are the pictures?

    I am really surprised at the expectations of some of the commenters here. You rent an apartment, by definition it is a temporary arrangement. This is not a condo or a house. Ironically these people are probably also anti cookie cutter condo.

    I think it is great that they are gutting the building and making it better. These same people would be complaining that nothing ever gets fixed and so on asking for reductions in rent and initiating nuisance lawsuits.

    At least they had the good sense to go at least 19 stories high back then and use quality building materials. The problem is all the 4 and 6 story buildings created over the last ten years. Rents would be much lower because owners would be competing for renters if we had more apartments. These height restrictions have caused any available housing to go to the highest bidder. It is not just housing, the price of everything has gone up too but that may be issue at the other Capitol Hill in DC.

    I agree Capitol Hill has changed drastically. The artistes the freaks the great mixture of people the hippies the punks and bohemians and all the brilliant minds who crazy and eccentric ways held them back and propelled them forward at the same time. I miss those people. They gathered together to create a community and now have been forced to move away and with them the safety and tolerances we were known for have been replaced with crime and everything bland. Capitol Hill was full of people who rejected and ran away from the people places and ways and restrictions of other places and now the very elements and ideas they wanted to escape are moving in and chasseing them out. It is truly a horrible thing to see because what was created here was beautiful. A bastion of freedom and tolerance where you could live life a little differently and it was ok with everyone. Well maybe not ok but they would at least look the other way.

    It is not just the hill, Broadway has at least 5 banks on it as does the center of the universe in Fremont. Are they the only ones that can afford the rent? Nothing says hippie like a bank.

    One of the nice things about Capitol hill was. There were no cops. There was no need for the police to be around. People were friendly, weird but friendly there was an understanding of live and let live but most importantly people were kind and considerate to and toward each other. You could get your freak on no mater what it was and maybe find some encouragement for it or at least you wouldn’t have to be confronted with discouragement like you would in most other places.

    If more housing is not built we will be stuck with all the negative and all the positive will go away. Who knows what the hill will change into. Maybe it will become a good thing but right now it is all up in the air because there are no buildings up there. We want people to stay and play not to be forced away because of limited pay. “The rents are too damn high” because the buildings are too damn short !

  13. While it’s easy to hate on Amazon and Microsoft and the entire flee of tech employees, I think people are missing a large point. Capitol Hill, First Hill, and other nearby neighborhoods should embrace diversity, be it economic, ethnics, sexual orientation or other forms of differences. This is what makes neighborhoods great.

    People now state that Capitol Hill is no longer diverse, but rather quite uniform with tech employees: the neighborhood has lost it’s charm – rents are skyrocketing – artists, punks, musicians, service industry people, etc, no longer afford the neighborhood. And they have all the right to note so.

    Yet, the same people go ahead and resist changing neighborhood zoning laws under the notion of conserving the neighborhood: you can’t build apartment buildings in this zone with more than 2 floors – microhousing is horrible – conserve old empty spaces.

    Point is: no one owns Capitol Hill, it’s a place for everybody. And to fit everybody in an affordable way, the city needs to fix it’s housing and zoning policies. Maybe the city should invoke a progressive income tax. Maybe the city should be harder on shady development companies. Maybe the city should provide a lot more affordable housing. Maybe the city should invoke taxes on larger companies such as Amazon and Microsoft (I highly doubt that their threat of leaving the city will materialize, but that will slow down growth).

    I don’t know, there is a lot the city could do. There is a lot that voters could do. I wonder how many of those artists, punks, musicians, service industry employees, etc actually do vote (p.s. that number is quite low for the under 35 aged voter). Yet, we sit here, and we all complain about Amazon while we enjoy the one-day delivery it provides.

    • Amen!! But one little quibble from one of those evil, baby devouring jerks that happens to work at Microsoft and is spreading misery to Capitol Hill. “It’s” = “it is”, and “its” is the possessive. I’m a Content Manager. I can’t help it. Thanks for your message. Now I have to go back and perform Evil Deeds such as paying taxes, SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES, participating in community events, and donating to local charities. You know, like most of us heartless MS and Amazon employees do. Please read my all caps message note in case you other generalizing, bigoted clowns missed it.

      • Apologies for the typos. Under-caffeinated this morning, over-boozed last night.

        To be clear, I am not a techie, my income is the median income for a single person household in the city of Seattle. Most of my friends are artists or service industry people. A few are techies. None is a voter. Sadly, neither am I. I am just an immigrant happy to pay more taxes to live in this neighborhood. I am also tired of all the complaining. C’est tous!

    • A place for everybody that can afford to pay the big bucks. The rest of us are just out of luck and forced out of town. How’s that for diversity? This is a recent trend starting around 2007 and it is now full steam ahead. Don’t worry. Those of us who do not fit the new gentrified economic demographic will be completely gone soon enough within the next 5-10 years. We take with us everything that made Cap Hill what it was over the last few decades. Cap Hill is the way it is because of those of us who have lived here and made it what it is over the past several decades. That is all slowly being torn away and replaced in the name of the almighty dollar and those that can afford to push those who can’t pay up out.

      • I completely understand your concern, and make for a very valid point. The way things are going, I’ll be moving out as well by end of 2015 if not sooner.

        But is it really the fault of someone who can afford high rent? While a lot of those people could be assholes, that is not a function of their incomes.

        That said, why not blame local landowners who sellout so quickly to these awful developers? Does it really have to be that way: .
        Why not blame the city for its awful housing policies?
        Why not blame the under 35 demographic that fails to turnout to ballots (Proposition 2 ring a bell?)? City meeting?

        It’s funny how everyone in this city is a liberal, but only as long as it does not inconvenience them.

        On another note, I also agree that the diversity of backgrounds built the hill, but a lot of these groups are very exclusive and never engage in including outsiders. Yes, I am talking about artists, and musicians, and, and, and…. At some point, all this finger pointing does not reverse the trend that has been going on since 2007. Doing something about it may have a slightly better chance…

      • Seriously? 2007? Do people really believe “gentrification” (or whateverthefuck you want to call it) just came into being in 2007? Do you really think Capitol Hill is the !OhMyGodLastPlaceInSeattle! this sort of evolution could ever happen? Wise up, people. This is a repeatable process that plays out in practically EVERY big city in the country, the world, etc. Instead of whining how “it’s not like it used to be” and boo-hooing that you were priced out, you should be directing your energy to figuring out where the next soon-to-be-fabulous place is, and being part of the leading edge instead of the priced-out whiners. If you’re as cool and eclectic as some of you seem to think you are, all those sheeple you disdainfully look down your nose at, that couldn’t POSSIBLY be as cool/hip/erudite/tasteful as you are, will no doubt be hot on your trail a few years down the road. How superior will you feel then, you tastemaker you?

      • I’m pretty sure my argument here lies along the same lines as your argument (minus the 2007 part, although I just took that number from commenter before me).

        Therefore, I am confused on why you are arguing with me on this? Maybe find an actual whiner instead, and let me have my cheez in peace!

      • Agreed – I moved here in ’96 and it had changed from the early ’90s (I heard) and by 2007 already had changed even more and people complained about condos then. More “Belltown” style partiers started making their way up the hill to be cool with the newer clubs/bars that attracted a more bridge and tunnel crowd.

        Jim is absolutely right, this is a constant cycle of change that occurs. Sorry that the crowd hasn’t stayed “cool enough” for those who moved here in (name the year you were 23). But there’s always a new neighborhood, or you can move to North Seattle once you have kids and buy a Subaru!

      • It’s not specifically directed at you, chuky. Sorry if it seemed that way. This whole “OhMyGod, it’s all ruined and there’s nowhere for us cool people anymore!” routine is just ludicrous.

      • On what looks like my last place on the hill for now on the north end. There is talk already of the building being sold to a new company which in turn means the rates skyrocketing again. At this point I am already looking to move to Beacon Hill, Georgetown or West Seattle. I have been forced to move multiple times in just five years. Each time due to increasing rents, “renovations” etc. It is sad. Again people don’t see it for what it is. It isn’t about a little click of people and the locals only mentality. It is about displacing people who have been here for years and can’t afford what is being done by the landlords and the influx of tech employee money. Sure the is turnover and change in every city. The problem here is that is it being done in such an incredibly hasty fashion that half ass condo/apartment buildings are being throw up, the rental rates are ridiculous and many people like me have no choice but to move from the only place many of us have ever called home simply because we no longer fit the economic social demographic that is replacing us. It is easy to not see that when you aren’t going paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet and when the change is favorable to the select few that can afford it. Coming up with first/last months rent and a deposit plus moving costs almost every single god damn year after getting rental increase notices and forced renovation eviction notices is getting tiring and I can no longer afford it. My last move will be off the hill like many of my friends, family and co-workers before me.

      • After twenty years I am right behind you. I am old ( 47 ) and no longer fit in either. Funny, it wasn’t that long ago that Cap Hill was for everybody. No longer and that’s too bad. F*#K the Amazonians!

      • F*CK THE AMAZONIANS! Ha, funny thing, the demographic of amazonians/microsoft techies is about 30-40% foreigners (estimate comes from the number of H1-B Visas they have applied for). Those tend to be the quietest, nicest, and kindest people you can meet. Should I add that a good chunk of them come from way less privilege and wealth than most people on this board? Anybody could ‘fit in’ with them, if you’d only try including them in your circle. Yes, they tend to be introverted, but they are not the bro-men/lululemon-women that hang out in the Pike-Pine triangle on weekends. It is easy to stereotype and generalize.

      • Thanks, chuky cheez! I’m glad that at least someone recognizes that Amazon employees are not evil incarnate (no, I am not one of them), but instead are just people (like you and me) who can afford rents on Capitol Hill. I think that most of the “fu##k Amazon” comments are based in plain old jealousy.

  14. My partner and i are current (short timer) residents at Pamorama House. While not looooong time residents (moved in early 2013), we I fell in love with the original (and well maintained) 1960’s look and feel. We are heartbroken that we have to leave. Given that rents are supposed to approximately double, and all those lovely original kitchen and bathroom features will be replace by stainless appliances and granite countertops, we will likely not be returning.

    I understand that there are significant system issues with the building and that to truly rehab these systems will require the building to be unoccupied. There are many, many residents that are in their 70’s and higher for who this forced relocation will be nearly unendurable. I have become friends with some of them and I have seen tears. There is never a good time to do something like this, but given the advanced years of so many of the residents, I think a lot of the suffering could have been avoided by waiting 5 to 10 years.

    Which brings me to the point. I think, if we want to find someone to blame for this imposed chaos, we must all look in the mirror. Oh, yes… there are some more directly responsible, in this instance, than others. But, since we all are out to absolutely maximize our incomes, investment returns, profits, etc,, regardless of the effects on real people. It’s in our cultural DNA. And, of course, the more money we have, the more money we can get. It’s the way it works.

    Can we seriously blame the former owners, who after rationally looking at the apartment market, decided it was a good time to sell and tried to maximize their return? Can we blame the buyers who literally spent a fortune to buy the building and are spending another (albeit smaller) fortune to completely rehab the building? All of these are driven by “market forces,” the very same ones we seem to worship here in the Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free. Because, here we are free to pursue every last dime that we can wrest from someone’s hand. But, we are not free from the fear that we will be forced to move away from our homes when we are 90 years old.

    • Actually, I blame HGTV for getting people obsessed for granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Seriously people, you don’t need chef grade appliances to heat your leftovers!

    • The changes happening on Capitol Hill are not solely the result of people trying to “maximize our incomes, investment returns, profits, etc.” This was deliberately planned over the last two decades to build density in the core of the city to relieve the eastern parts of the county from development that was/is encroaching on wild life territories. Yes, people are profiting from this. No way to avoid that. But as a 20 year resident of Capitol Hill I have yet to see one building torn down that wasn’t replaced by something better. Old Seattle was not really an architectural pot of gold.

      It’s really sad that some of these elderly residents have to move after decades in an apartment. But that’s one of the consequences of apartment living. After being a homeowner for six years I realized I prefer apartment living and realize that this means I may have to move from time to time. And not necessarily when it’s convenient for me.

      I do believe we as a community, city, state, etc. do have a responsibility to the older tenants of this building to help make the transition as easy as possible for them and hopefully find many of them homes close to this one. But time marches on and density (which this renovation will provide) is necessary for us to create a sustainable, thriving city for future generations.

      Hopefully the mayor can set up a task force of people to help the vulnerable residents of this building move on.

      • There is already a program to mitigate the impact on vulnerable residents. The story refers to the legal requirement to provide $$ for moving assistance, and the developer specifically mentions they intend to provide MORE than the required minimum.

      • That’s true, my understanding is that relocation assistance is only required for households making 50% of median income or less, yet Security Properties is offering relocation assistance to all residents (we’ll find out how much later this week or next week). I think they are sensitive to the disruption they are causing. But they are a profit making venture, and when all is said and done, they will have invested about $90M, for which they expect to earn a respectable return.

        I still believe the problem is societal, and is much larger than Panorama House, Capitol Hill, or even just the USA. It is the view that the ends justify the means. It is why we are shipping oil and coal around the country in unsafe containers (there is money to be made), it is why Chinese electronics assemblers commit suicide because they are living a hell we have trouble imagining. It is why our world wide economy is based on extraction and consumption. There is nothing to be done about it. It is.

      • Agreed! I think the posters who are focused on how the new owners are meeting their legal obligations and beyond are missing the point. It’s still going to be a massive and completely unwelcome disruption in the lives of a lot of people who may not be well-equipped to deal with the change. It happens, and we can’t really stop it, but I don’t think I need to feel like it’s totally okay.

        re: “a full refund of their initial security deposit” if someone paid this decades ago, it’s going to be negligible, unless they’re getting interest, or the equivalent of a 2014 security deposit.

      • Re: density. They’ve scrapped the plan to carve up units into smaller spaces, so the current 179 units will stay (see update to the story above). This is already a high-rise, dense development. The density is not going to increase. The space is just going to get a lot more expensive.

  15. This is another example of just how dramatic the demand for apartments is in the in city neighborhoods in Seattle. Our zoning laws are very shortsighted. If we had broad rules that included inclusionary zoning rules and we didn’t have an obsession with limiting heights – we might see a building boom of high rises in the Capitol Hill area with a broad range of apartment options. Instead we have 5 to 7 story buildings going up and other areas that are zoned very low density, which prohibits things like attached housing or multiple units on a city lot.

    • Thank you! I’d like to mention that Seattle’s density does not show up in the list of 130 most dense cities in the US… sad…

  16. Wow. I met my current husband in 2004 when he lived in this building, subletting from a woman who now lives in Palm Springs. She was close with some of her elderly neighbors. This is so sad.

  17. Pingback: What We’re Reading: Arrogance of Space | The Urbanist

  18. After seeing this story on KING, the owners of the senior housing company I work for were very concerned by the challenges the seniors living at Panorama House are facing and have responded publicly with an offer for seniors who are living at Panorama House. They offered to pay for their pack and move as well as a free month’s rent and reduced rent thereafter at their brand new affordable senior housing building in Milton or a brand new retirement and assisted living in Burien. We contacted the KING 5 reporter LInda Brill and she did a follow up story on this a couple nights ago, which included the mayor’s call for private investors to build affordable in-city housing as well a our offer for Panorama House residents. You can look at pictures of Alder Ridge and El Dorado West online and call the managers for more information. We hope more private companies answer this call to aid and assist seniors and help them make this transition smoothly and affordable.

  19. As a cabdriver for the last ten years in Seattle, I am tasting a little bit of hypocrisy in the discussions. When the Taxi business was swept away by the techies Uber, lyft and sidecar, it was capitalism at it is best and it was well received change on the hill. There were no concerns for the thousands of cabbies who lost their livelihood. Now that the floods that swept away the cabbies is also clearing the middle class from hill you feeling the heat. I feel your pain, but it a capitalism. Move on you will find something along the way.

  20. Pingback: Displaced First Hill seniors offered discounts at retirement communities | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle