DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY But you’re being forced out.
Located just off Madison Street, where Madison Valley, Capitol Hill, and the Central District converge, the Prince of Wales is a deeply charming brick apartment building that seems as if it's been around longer than anyone can remember. "Supposedly, it used to be a hospice," says Katherine Lind, a 14-year resident. She adds, "Charlton Heston lived here for a time, when he went to Cornish. That's what I heard, God knows if it's true." ("It's true," says a different resident. "It was his cold-water flat.")
For a long time, the Prince's owner kept rents low, and Lind says that the units were generally "filled with quirky creative-type people" who shared holiday meals, while the backyard garden and picnic tables instilled a community vibe. Although the neighborhood is quiet today, things were different a few years ago, Lind says. "We lived through the hell of it. All the hookers and drugs and gunplay and dogs barking and shit. And the drunk motherfuckers singing. Oh, how I hated them. It was like 300 people were in my living room," she says, gesturing right outside her window to where the dive bar Deano's/Chocolate City and bar/karaoke venue the Twilight Exit formerly stood (and other bars before that). Today, the plot sits vacant, though four town houses are scheduled for construction.
Nearby, a Safeway, a Starbucks, and a Subway occupy the ground floor of a multistory residential complex that is so sprawling and beige-colored and aggressively nondescript that it actually seems profane. "I watched it going up. The workers just didn't stop. It was like a giant marshmallow that kept getting bigger and bigger," Lind says.
I'm talking with Lind in her apartment. It's a pleasant space with high ceilings and wood floors, but she won't be living here much longer. Rents at the Prince are suddenly skyrocketing. While previous rates for its studios and one-bedroom units ranged from $600 to $900 a month, the new owners are jacking up rents an extra $315 to $670 a month. That's 45 to 90 percent. Many tenants, such as Lind, say they can't afford to stay. At $350 more per month, her increase is 44 percent.