The freewheeling, DIY days of Capitol Hill’s Summit Inn are coming to an end. The culprit? Higher rents, of course.
Longtime building owner Pete Sikov recently sold the Inn to real estate investor Brad Padden, who residents say is raising rents in an effort to transform units into conventional apartments. Residents at the 1722 Summit Ave building that spoke with CHS said many of the building’s artists and musicians are now moving out, or planning to in the coming weeks.
On December 31st, residents were notified that rents would increase by around $100 and continue to increase for the foreseeable future. “We understand that the living conditions at the Summit Inn are in need of a major makeover. We will begin that process immediately,” said the letter form the building’s new manager, David Sharkey.
Construction permits have been filed to renovate the building, but some residents are trying to work with the city to force the new owners to address more immediate issues first, like the plumbing and rodents. Sharkey did not respond to CHS’s requests for comment on this story.
Sikov, who owns 17th and Madison’s Arts Inn Northwest, had encouraged recent efforts to make the Summit Inn a more arts focused community. The building was in shambles, but rents stayed low and residents had free reign to work in the building. But with rents going up, residents told CHS there’s no reason to live under such conditions.
“It’s just not worth it,” said Rich Dillard, who managed the building under the previous ownership.
Perhaps most known in the neighborhood for being the organizing force behind the raucous Summit Block Party, the Inn is not going out with one last bash. The Slummit Block Party, LLC is being planned for Saturday.
When CHS spoke with Dillard in August, he knew this day would come for the Summit Inn, but maybe not so soon. 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. With its proximity to the Capitol Hill food and drink core, Dillard said he knew it was only a matter of time before a developer took a shot at transforming the block.
The Summit Inn was originally built as single-room occupancy apartments, with shared bathrooms and common spaces. Today the interior feels like an art installation itself, a building in a perpetual state of destruction and repair.
The Summit Inn isn’t alone in its struggles with new building owners. The Seattle Times reported on a a recent study that showed investors spent $3.3 billion in 2014 buying apartments around the Puget Sound. The burst of apartment sales, especially in older buildings, has helped trigger continuing major rent increases across the city.