Ballard tenants fighting to stay in apartments

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by ROBERTA ROMERO / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on February 20, 2014 at 12:16 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 20 at 2:33 PM

SEATTLE -- Tenants at the Lockhaven Apartment Complex in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood are in a battle with its new owner, Goodman Real Estate. Six months ago, Goodman Real Estate purchased the 22-building, 138-unit complex.

Almost immediately some residents were given notices that their rent would double.

"I've lived here for 9 years," said Gail Engler. "It's heartbreaking that I will probably have to move."

Engler currently pays $800 for a one-bedroom apartment; she says she was told her rent would probably increase to $1,500. Engler is a member of a new tenants union that is trying to negotiate with the owner.

"We've met with Goodman Real Estate, but so far, they are not interested in changing their stance," said Engler.

Today, the Lockhaven Tenants Union is holding a press conference at the complex to share their story. Two Seattle City Councilors Nick Licata and Kwama Sawant will also attend.

Statement from Goodman Real Estate President George Petrie: 

"The Lockhaven apartments are more than 50  years old and have reached the end of their physical life. The previous owners put the building on the market at a competitive, full-market price. We purchased the building with the goal of investing several million dollars to make the needed interior and exterior improvements to ensure these unique buildings remain in Ballard for the next 50 years.

"Affordability in Seattle is a complex topic and one that we are sympathetic to. We are all apart of this community and housing that is affordable is critical to maintaining a vibrant neighborhood.  It's why we not only worked with the City to provide relocation assistance for all residents who qualified for it, but also retained an on-site relocation specialist to work one-on-one with each resident to help us understand their specific needs and how we can best help them. That's included everything from helping them find new apartments in and around Ballard with rents comparable to the Lockhaven, to providing additional financial assistance to those who need it. Additionally, we're open to being extremely flexible with the timeframe in which residents move - we've communicated a very flexible 12-18 month timeframe, which will also help ease this transition. We're also working individually with any resident who would like to remain at Lockhaven during and after the renovations.

"We will continue to work with all residents to do what we can to help. Additionally, we look forward to continuing a dialogue with the City about the tools that can be used to help address affordability in our growing City."

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