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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Seattle Housing Authority to Save Lock Vista?

posted by on September 6 at 14:23 PM

According to Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) is looking at purchasing several of the Lock Vista apartment buildings currently slated for condo conversion. Residents recently collected 600 signatures urging SHA to use eminent domain to acquire the building.

Rasmussen will be visiting the Lock Vista Apartments tonight at 5:45 to meet with residents and find out if any of them have found other affordable housing in the area. He also wants to know if any residents can afford to purchase their units if they’re converted.

I’ve got a call in to SHA about their plans.


Virginia Felton, SHA’s Communications Director, says they’re trying to figure out a way to buy the building, but with an estimated cost of 15-20 million dollars, it’s a bit of a longshot. “It’s not clear that we’ll be able to do anything before a sale goes through,” Felton says,”but we’re looking at it.”

SHA actually looked at purchasing Lock Vista two years ago when it was up for sale but, according to Fetlon, the studio and one-bedroom apartments “didn’t fit [SHA’s} needs at that time. [SHA is] trying to get out of the studio apartment business.”

SHA is looking at the building again because of all of the noise being made by residents and the displacement coalition but even if they were to purchase Lock Vista, there’s no guarantee all of the residents would be able to stay.

“By law, any project that we get involved in, 50 percent of the residents have to have incomes below 80 percent of the median income, ” Felton says. “If people [at Lock Vista] were over that income we [would] simply help them transition out.”

SHA will make a determination on Lock Vista sometime next week.

RSS icon Comments


The Lock Vista apartments are a huge issue, but I'm worried about one small person. "D" has lived at Lock Vista for as long as I can remember. I met him in the 80's when I would cut his hair as a student at the Greenwood Academy of Hair. He is a funny, friendly, and VERY talkative guy. I assume pays his rent and gets his meager groceries via DSHS, I do not think he is able to perform work for income. "D" gets around by bus and by foot, he covers a large territory. That territory isn't large enough to cover Renton or Tukwilla or wherever all these displaced renters will have to go to find an affordable place to live. I really hope "D" can stay at Lock Vista where he knows how to get to every place he needs to go, and the neighborhood people look out for him.

Posted by Ballard raised | September 6, 2007 3:41 PM

Geez, talk about a misuse of eminent domain. Maybe I'm going out on a limb here, but I hardly think maintaining low rents for a few hundred folks qualifies as a "public use." There's no way that would fly in court, particularly since the Washington constitution is even more restrictive on this issue than the US Constitution.

If the SHA were to purchase this on the open market, well, more power to them.

Posted by joykiller | September 6, 2007 3:53 PM

SHA can use eminent domain to force a building owner to sell to them. They still have to buy it at market rate though. They've done it before but, as my update states, Lock Vista is a pretty expensive property.

Posted by Jonah S | September 6, 2007 3:56 PM

If you want to find out more about what is going on visit our website at Our main goal is to save 192 homes from becoming expensive condos, but the bigger issue at stake is the situation in Seattle, where afordable rentals are disappearing at an alarming pace. People of low, fixed, and median income are being forced out. We want the politicans to wake up and do something.

Posted by mona | September 7, 2007 3:01 PM

First, if the building is more valuable to be converted into condos, then that is the way it is going to be.

It is called the free market. If you don't like it, don't live in a choice neighborhood. The renters got their view apartments at a below market price for many years. Now the chickens have come home to roost.

Second, nowhere in all these liberal, pity poor little me stories does anyone talk about the difficulty in finding affordable housing for those folks who choose to work hard but can't afford Seattle's typical $500,000 house so they choose to move into a condo instead.

Don't they have any rights? And shouldn't we encouraging these conversions to increase the city and county's property tax base as a converted building is worth more than a mere apartment building?

Third, I find it hypocritical of the Seattle Housing Authority wanting to buy this building to preserve the waterfront views of its predominately *white* residents while it is trying to redevelop (and move out the residents of) predominately minority Yesler Terrace with its wonderful views of the sound and mountains.

Why should the Lock Vista building be exempt? The fact is as a renter, you have no rights. What about the property owner's rights which is never talked about in these stories?

And by the way, I live in a senior/disabled SHA building but I refuse to take the party line of the housing activist crowd.

Posted by Keith Gormezano | September 15, 2007 9:40 AM

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