Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« The Morning News | "3 on Your Side" »

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lock Vista Apartments Saved

posted by on February 1 at 8:40 AM

30th Ave NW & NW Market Street


Score one for affordable housing: it looks like Ballard’s Lock Vista Apartments won’t be converted to condos after all.

After months of protests, angry letters to City Councilmembers, and speculation about sales, it appears the five-building Lock Vista complex will remain a rental property.

The building owners are offering new leases, and are also giving residents $300 credits on their rent for the disruption caused by the the now-dead sale. The owners say the building could be sold in the future, but it looks like residents at Lock Vista can breathe easy for a while.

The larger question here is what this means for our housing market, if anything. This was one of the larger conversion projects in the city, so I’ll be calling around later to find out just what happened with the sale.

RSS icon Comments


I knew a guy who lived in the Lock Vista in the mid 1990s, when I was working in a pizza restaurant in Crown Hill. Him and his girlfriend used to smoke crack together in the parking lot, because they didn't want it to stink up their apartment. Then one day she stabbed him in the arm with a hunting knife on a dare, so he broke up with her and moved out, but he'd already gotten her pregnant with twins so her father chased him down and threatened to kill him if he didn't marry the crazy bitch. So he married her and our general manager was nice enough to promote him to assistant manager, so he'd have a shot at being able to support his new homicidal maniac wife and their twin (possibly crack-addicted) babies.

Thank god there's still a place for people like that in Ballard.

Though I suppose I should mention that my buddy eventually moved to a trailer park out on the rez where he could raise his two little half-crazy-bitch babies on the stipend the tribe pulled off their casino. So maybe gentrification got them in the end, after all.

Damn you gentrification! *shakes fist at sky*

Posted by Judah | February 1, 2008 9:19 AM

Guess what Judah, I live on Social Security Disability and have a grand 800$ a month to my disposal. I was lucky enough to find an AFFORDABLE (65' square feet) place on Capitol Hill to live in, since if I lived in the 'cheaper' places in South Seattle I'd have to either get a car or spend hours on the bus - killing MORE of my income.

I'm sorry if you equate "Affordable Housing" with crack smoking tenants; but the vast majority of people who are in need of affordable housing are people like me. No criminal record. Volunteers at the library. Just wants to live their life in peace. Thank God I live within walking distance of the hospitals.

Posted by Colton | February 1, 2008 9:26 AM

You know, that actually puts me in mind of another great Ballard Locks experience I had.

I used to wash dishes at the Lockspot Cafe back in 1990. We had this junkie prep cook who got hep from slamming with her teenage daughter and then didn't tell anyone about it so she could keep working. And we had this bartender who used to turn tricks off our customers of a slow weekday night. That was always good for a laugh, to just have the bartender disappear and come back 20 minutes later with her clothes all fucked up.

We used to store all our ingredients in the basement of that place, but there was a terrible rat problem down there so the management used powder-form rat poison, scattered in little boxes on the floor. Then about once a month we'd get a heavy rain and the whole basement would flood, so the potatoes we made our fries out of were soaked in rat-poison-contaminated floodwater. Didn't seem to affect the flavor much.

About 5 years after I quit working there the place got bought up, put under new management, and totally cleaned up. They stopped hiring homeless people, so I wouldn't've been able to get a job there anymore, and they started requiring everyone to show up for work and not use drugs on the premises and such. They don't even use rat poison in the basement anymore! Evidently they used their big rich person money to hire an exterminator instead! Now the authentic feel of the place is totally ruined.

Damn you gentrification! *continues to shake fist at sky*

Posted by Judah | February 1, 2008 9:32 AM

Why'd the deal fall through?

There's over 3,000 condos on the market in King County. In the slow inventory month of -January-.

Ain't no one buying no mo'.

Posted by bored | February 1, 2008 9:34 AM

do you or any of these people really think that "months of protests, [and] angry letters to City Councilmembers" is what made this deal fall through?

Posted by happy renter | February 1, 2008 9:36 AM


What are these law abiding poor people you speak of? I've never heard of such a thing.

And are you actually telling me that it's possible to find a 10X6.5 apartment on Capitol Hill? That's awesome! We should build a bunch more of those. Those are a great idea.

Posted by Judah | February 1, 2008 9:37 AM

The Lockspot is awesome, and so are the Lock Vista apartments. I don't recognize your picture of them at all. Maybe you need to widen your circle of acquaintances.

I think the fact that this was one of the largest conversion projects is in fact exactly what killed it.

Posted by Fnarf | February 1, 2008 9:38 AM


The Lockspot is awesome, and so are the Lock Vista apartments. I don't recognize your picture of them at all. Maybe you need to widen your circle of acquaintances.

Or maybe you don't recognize it because you didn't work bottom-rung service industry jobs in North Seattle in the late '80s and early '90s -- just to, you know, float another theory on that.

Posted by Judah | February 1, 2008 9:43 AM

Colton @2,

Funny, I thought Judah was making a point just about blindly demonizing gentrification without context.

Posted by lostboy | February 1, 2008 9:48 AM

My ma lived in the Lock Vista for a while. She never saw any crack dealers or stabbings. Again: maybe you should get away from that kind of people.

Posted by Fnarf | February 1, 2008 9:59 AM
Again: maybe you should get away from that kind of people.

I didn't have to. They've all been priced out of the city. Economics took care of it for me.

Posted by Judah | February 1, 2008 10:15 AM

At least the coworker and his girlfriend were conscientious enough not to stink up their apartment with the smell of crack. Most (tobacco) smokers don't even bother.

Posted by keshmeshi | February 1, 2008 10:17 AM

I used to get a lot of high bill complaints at the Lock Vista when I worked the Ballard district. Nice apartments, nice people, but boy were those units small.

I'm glad they're being kept as apartments.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | February 1, 2008 10:27 AM

This is how you fight condo converstions; one at a time with actual community support. not a broad sweeping law.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 1, 2008 10:28 AM

@14, but mostly with a totally unplanned softening of the housing market.

Posted by joykiller | February 1, 2008 10:36 AM


Yeah, no.

Are you at all familiar with the PTA effect? That's when, for example, the yuppie community of Phinney Ridge and East Ballard use the spare time and resources their white collar jobs afford them to rally community support to have West Woodland Elementary School torn down and rebuilt at a cost of about $1.5 million dollars above what the school district was willing to pay -- while parents in the Central District and West Seattle, who don't have the time for that kind of shit because of their economic circumstances, are cramming their kids into the same shitty schools from the Urban Renewal push.

Big sweeping laws are about providing equal protection to all groups in a given jurisdiction, regardless of their ability to plant a phone tree or email a city council member.

Posted by Judah | February 1, 2008 10:37 AM

Meh, I dont like the idea of laws being passed to stop condo conversions. I like the idea of the community bitching enough that it doesnt happen. a law is binding to all in spite of circumstances, community support arises out of what is value most to the community.

@15 and that housing slump wasn't planned but it was inevitable.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 1, 2008 10:44 AM


That whistling sound you just heard was my argument flying over your head.

Posted by Judah | February 1, 2008 10:49 AM

no, i got it; poor people cant rally around a cause because of economic hardship. I think that is too bad.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 1, 2008 11:00 AM

@17, you just missed my point too. Regardless of whether the slump was inevitable, dollars to donuts says that's the root of the sale falling through. Not some feel-good "community support."

The transaction just didn't pencil out for the Northlake Group after the condo market started to stall. That's it, plain and simple, and the good residents of the Lock Vista were saved by a deus ex machina.

Posted by joykiller | February 1, 2008 11:05 AM

I'd agree that was the primary cause, but i think the community was a factor.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 1, 2008 11:10 AM

So that's why the Lockspot sells "Seattle's Deadliest Bar" teeshirts...

Posted by isabelita | February 1, 2008 11:14 AM

and heres the rub; if it wasnt a factor then it might just go to show that you're better off spending that time looking for a new place rather than trying to stop it.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 1, 2008 11:14 AM

23 raises an important question.

There were undoubtedly renters who moved out of Lock Vista when they were told it was going condo. Is there anything being offered to those people? First dibs on their old unit maybe? The unit shouldn't have been rented again if the owners were planning on going condo...

Posted by happy renter | February 1, 2008 11:53 AM

Here's more info from Real Change reporter Cydney Gillis' article this week: the old-money "philanthropist" owners of Lock Vista, the buyers who just backed out, and the residents' organizing efforts:

Posted by tomasyalba | February 1, 2008 12:13 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).