Tenants of Ballard apartments vow to fight 'relocation'

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on September 28, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 1 at 4:52 PM

New ownership has created a nightmare for low-income residents of a Ballard apartment complex.

“About six weeks ago they started ripping down the siding on this building, doing construction and at that point rumors started,” said Tavish Donahue, a tenant.

The Lockhaven Apartments were sold to “Pinnacle Family of Companies” this summer. Tenants were given notices to vacate their homes within 20 days, which was eventually ruled as illegal.

All tenants will now have six months to relocate so the property can undergo extensive renovations, including new amenities like granite top counters, two new fitness centers and a yoga studio.

“That’s sick, it’s ridiculous,” said Beverly Gibson, who’s lived at the complex since 2008.

Gibson, 82, pays about $800 a month for her one bedroom apartment. After the renovations, her rent will nearly double. She only gets $1,000 from Social Security.

“It will cost $1,000 just to move, I’m not sure what I can do,” she said.

Many like Gibson are on a fixed-income and are fighting relocation because they can’t afford Seattle’s rising apartment rates.

According to Dupre + Scott, a local apartment research firm, the average asking price for a one bedroom Seattle apartment built in the last six years is $1,802 a month. The price is an increase of 8.3% since last year.

“The rent here has gotten so high,” said Donahue.

Rents are expected to increase another 3 percent through March.

“Just yesterday I found a letter about the tenants union organizing,” said Donahue.

Some tenants have already found new places to live. But other residents are fighting relocation because they call Lockhaven some of the last affordable housing in Ballard, located near vital public services.

“I need to be near a bus, food, that’s downtown,” said Gibson.

Many like Gibson are disappointed looking at the future, where she says profits are more important than people.

“We need inexpensive places to live and this used to be,” said Gibson.

Low-income tenants are getting about $3,000 to help them relocate, paid for by the City of Seattle and the new owners, who couldn’t be reached for comment.

Statement released on behalf of Lockhaven:

“On behalf of Lockhaven Apartments, first and foremost, we want to confirm the well-being of our residents is of utmost importance.

It is correct that Lockhaven Apartments is undergoing improvements that will require the majority of residents to relocate. Relocations will occur in phases over six months. The first set of moves will begin in approximately six months; however some residents may not be relocated for almost a year.

The story incorrectly names Pinnacle Family of Companies as owners of Lockhaven Apartments. On Aug 26, Pinnacle took over management of Lockhaven, however the property is owned by a third-party.

There was some miscommunication with a very small percentage of residents about the relocation process. We apologize for the confusion this caused, and immediately worked with The City of Seattle to correct this mistake and provide residents with the correct information.

It is the goal of Lockhaven staff to work with residents to find the least expensive housing options in Ballard. We will continue providing residents with information and resources during the relocations process.

If residents have questions or concerns, they are urged to visit or call the Business Office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To accommodate residents the Business Office will remain open until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1 and Thursday, Oct. 3, to answer questions and address concerns. During these times residents can also pick up City of Seattle relocation packets, which enable them to apply for assistance.”

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