A Seattle developer says he plans to save two historic apartment buildings by converting the units to condos.
"The trouble with many of these old buildings is it just doesn't pay to keep them up when you've got them as apartments," Ben Rankin, a principal of developer Pioneer Property Group, said while touring the Pittsburgh apartment building last week.I'd venture there's a need for inexpensive rentals as well. People don't -need- to own, they want to - but certainly not by 2007 when we'll be deep in the throws of the national housing retrenchment.
"We can offer things that are priced substantially below the new construction here and have the architectural advantage," Rankin said. "I feel that if there is a real need, it is for inexpensive owned housing in the city."
On its Web site, Pioneer Property Group says it makes money on niche developments, but also has a "social mission" to "increase the density and supply of urban housing without adverse impact on our architectural heritage or the urban landscape."It's not a bad model, it's an insane one. Building a new condo from scratch would take several years, where a condo conversion can be done in a matter of months. Condo conversions usually signal the end of a housing boom cycle as they're seen as a "fast buck" before the Scheiße hits the ventilator.
"You could build a condo tower on a site that may have a five-story walk-up apartment building now," he said.
Developers are converting the Pittsburgh, a lower Queen Anne apartment building, into condos. But converting an apartment building to condos instead generally brings needed investment in an old building and creates many owners, complicating any subsequent move for demolition, Chaney said. "We think that's not a bad model."
No matter how you sugar coat it, renters will need to find a new place to live. Worse yet, I predict these units will "repartment" themselves less than one year after they're finished. I have nothing against capitalism and during a "normal" market I can see how this would work. Unfortunately this developer is just going to waste everyone's time.
The condos range from 430 to 750 square feet, costing $239,000 to $370,000. The Pittsburgh will have four small condos selling for about $150,000. That's inexpensive by Seattle standards, but not within the reach of most of the building's renters.Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? A kind benefactor swoops down to save a few buildings from ruin, while at the same time providing a much needed service. I will enjoy watching them try to sell these!
Rankin said he did not see how he could make the condos that affordable in the city. The developers provided all residents with the $500 the state requires in relocation just for low-income tenants and have someone searching out nearby apartment vacancies, he said.
"There still are a lot of buildings out there for rent," Rankin said.
But Michelle Thomas, a community organizer for the Tenants Union of Washington State, said Seattle is losing too many affordable apartments.
"I'm not sure that preserving a building at the cost of preserving apartments that are affordable is that much of a priority," she said.
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 11.14.2006)