Developer has plan to build new microhousing inside old Capitol Hill apartment building

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Padden (via Linkedin)

Padden (via Linkedin)

It may be a first for Seattle development: overhauling an old apartment building to create new microhousing. By combining two Seattle development trends at a legendary E Summit building, one developer thinks he may have found a solution to create some much sought after affordable housing on Capitol Hill.

In some ways, a microhousing renovation project would be back to the future for the Summit Inn. The history of tiny, affordable rooms for rent goes back well beyond the recent aPodment-powered trend. The Summit In was built 115 years ago for single room occupancy units.

Developer Brad Padden told CHS he plans to start the estimated $2.5 million renovation in October and have units ready to rent by next summer. The plan is to add one story to the building and transform the building to a mix of dorm-style congregate units and “small efficiency dwelling units” with individual kitchens.

Padden paid $2.9 million for the property late last year.

January's Slummit Block Party, LLC (Image: CHS)

January’s Slummit Block Party, LLC (Image: CHS)

The combined $5.4 million project could very well be the first of its kind in Seattle, according to a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Planning and Development. There are no regulations that specifically prohibit both congregates and SEDUs going in a renovated building, said the spokesperson.

CHS wrote about the part DIY madhouse, part Capitol Hill artist collective Summit Inn last year, and followed up in January after rents increased $100 when Padden took over from longtime owner Pete Sikov. Many of the Inn’s current residents aren’t happy about the changes and the loss of one of the last DIY-inspired buildings on the Hill. In January, the Slummit Block Party, LLC was a music-filled protest and party to say goodbye to the old days at the Inn. The artists at The In NW Arts, another of Sikov’s Capitol Hill properties, say they are awaiting a similar fate.

Padden says he’s genuinely interested in finding ways to keep artists at The Summit Inn and thinks “socially conscious entrepreneurs” like himself may be able to come up with innovative solutions to do it. “I would love for (artists) to be who would like this building,” Padden said.

The Curben Hotel (Image: King County

The Curben Hotel (Image: King County

Over the years, tenants at the Summit Inn were given more-or-less free rein to augment the building. Padden said he recently discovered a secret grow room built into one of the units. He also said the building is in immediate need of significant upgrades before tenants are forced to move out this fall.

The 1700 block of Summit is one of Capitol Hill’s last remaining pockets of lower income housing, where musicians and public housing residents live across the street from buildings housing high concentrations of sex offenders and others making the transition from time behind bars. A revamped Summit Inn could be the first of many changes for the block. Padden said he’s also looked at buying the Curben Hotel next-door.

As for the old crop of artists and musicians that called the Summit Inn home, Padden said he hopes some of them can return. In the meantime, Padden said he wanted to continue an open dialogue with Inn residents and is even planning to hold a discussion on KUOW with Rich Dillard, the Inn’s former manager.

What will the rents be in the Summit Inn once the microhousing overhaul is complete? Padden said he won’t know until he gets a better idea of the renovation costs and any overruns on the planned budget.

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10 thoughts on “Developer has plan to build new microhousing inside old Capitol Hill apartment building

  1. This will just be more “tenement housing,” but at least it’s preferable to the apodments that have already been built. Re-using an older building is better than bulldozing and shoe-horning a new/ugly/cheap materials/too tall/too bulky building into a small lot, without a requirement for design review or some parking.

    • I have wondered who is responsibe for the rebranding of the tenement. Also, how long will it be before we see a grouping of microhousing? Historically that has been called a Housing Project. I suspect it may be the same people who convinced us that kale tastes good.
      I see a societal issue with saying microhousing is ok. We call it affordable without saying no matter how many hours you work at a job that you enjoy and is necessary, you do not deserve a home with its own kitchen. You need to live alone too.
      It will be interesting to see if history repeats itself with the notion of tenement and project living.

  2. Yes, I’m sure it will be “affordable” at $4.00+ a sqft. Most likely those living there will not be able to afford to return.

    But agreed it is a better solution than tearing down the structure and replacing it. And at least it will be brought up to today’s codes.

  3. This is nothing new. Remember the slum lords of the 80’s and 90’s who walled up hallways, closets and cut in half living rooms, dining rooms of old houses in the U district and rented those spaces out? This is the same thing.

  4. I’m not sure why, but this just reminds me of somebody who figured out yet another loophole in the law to allow more substandard housing.

    I’m probably just oversensitive now that we’ve had so many manipulative “developers” building the apodments.

    I guess which is preferable, having the building condemned and torn down because it’s perceived to be dangerous, or have it updated sooner?

  5. This isn’t much of a change. This has basically been a SRO building for decades. There has always been density and there is no parking. The big differences between now and after the remodel are fewer rats, less mold, and an electrical system that can support modern technology. Hair dryers, for instance. Looking forward to the changes. And Padden wants to buy the Curben? Fantastic! Can I interest you in that house next door to the Curben that has been awaiting developent for a couple years?

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