by: Natasha Chen Updated:
SEATTLE - Dozens of tenants in the Lockhaven apartments in Ballard face a likely move in coming months, as the new owners of the building prepare major renovations and increased rent.
The owners, Goodman Real Estate, plan on spending 18 months renovating the buildings and units, currently able to house 138 people. The first dozen people will need to move as early as April. “This is one of those buildings that the previous owner had not invested in in many, many years,” said George Petrie, CEO and president of Goodman Real Estate.
But tenants find some of the fixes to be cosmetic.
“They’re really meant to just attract a different type of tenant,” said Susan Hernandez, who lives at Lockhaven. When the renovations are done, the rents will be about 50 percent higher.
Hernandez, who spends about half her monthly income on rent, said that many residents will not be able to afford their homes again.
Rent prices for one- and two-bedroom units run about $900 to $1,100, according to Petrie. Petrie said that higher rent is needed to cover the costs of renovation, but that the company would not bring rent up to market value, which is between $1,800 and $2,000 in Ballard.
The work planned for Lockhaven and its new rent is also part of market demand, according to Petrie.
“This is the by-product of growth and development of Ballard as a destination,” he said.
In the meantime, about one-third of Lockhaven residents qualify for assistance in moving costs. A single person making under $30,000 or a family of four making under $44,000 would qualify for about $3,000, paid for by the landlord and the city.
Tenants who make above that threshold may also receive help, according to Petrie, since the company is looking at cases of hardship one by one.
Goodman Real Estate and the tenants are still having conversations about how to resolve some of the issues.
Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata initially facilitated some of these discussions.
Licata has seen similar cases around Seattle and recognizes the eligibility cap to receive moving assistance may not be enough.
“The income that makes you eligible to receive that $3,000 is so low that if you’re making just barely above the minimum wage, you’re not going to be eligible,” Licata said.
He said that the Lockhaven situation is not unique.
Licata said one idea is to “see if the tenants are willing to work with perhaps a nonprofit, to purchase the building, if we establish a trust fund. Then that building would go into a trust fund. It’s a big idea, but it’s one that would work.”