Wow, I can buy my old apartment for $300,000

You know, it’s funny how how things are. Since I have lived in West Seattle for over 10 years I have had the opportunity to watch it change and grow, its ups and downs, the good and the bad. When my husband and I first were married we decided on West Seattle since he worked in Auburn and I worked downtown and it was a good commute for both. There was a brand new 20 unit apartment “complex” (if 4 buildings can be considered a complex), with some 1 bedroom flats topped by two story townhomes that were GINORmous by my standards at 1,400 square feet. We jumped at the chance to live in new construction and actually moved in a *teensy weensy* before the wedding (ok, 2 months). If we didn’t grab it, it would be gone.

The place was luxurious compared to the apartments I had lived in before. Not by way of finishes, but just by its size and floor plan. I had always rented suites before (flats). It was two bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, and a main floor with a large kitchen, powder room, combined dining/living area with a deck just feet from and above Longfellow Creek. There was room for a dining table, my piano, and we had an office/craft room where we kept our futon couch just in case we had guests. Eventually the spare bathtub made great storage space…

We were there just a little over two years. The last few months we assisted the owner for a rent credit and we tried to clean the place up, manage parking problems, and I distributed a newsletter (I am always writing something it seems…). The owner was “slumlord” Derek Brown, who had some sort of weird purchase contract with Mastro Company (he was later sentenced to live at one of his properties, Allison Park in Des Moines, that had a lot of plumbing, sewer, and rat problems – watch the KOMO 4 video from 2001 here). And some of the people living there (it was called Holden Lane Townhomes at the time) didn’t appreciate upstanding citizens trying to bring order to the parking lot. The back window of my husband’s car was smashed in, and then we were burglarized by way of the 2nd floor deck – they jimmied the sliding glass door open and stole a number of personal items in complete privacy since the deck was on the creek side of the building. We lost computer and stereo equipment, jewelry, my handgun (which I never replaced) and the owner’s fax machine was stolen. This was 1999 and there were “old High Point” ties between some of the people who lived here but we just couldn’t prove which thugs stole our stuff.

We decided we had had enough and gave notice to move – we found a nearly new building down in Westwood (on 25th Avenue SW). We had thoughts of buying a house so we majorly downsized from 1,400 sq ft to about 700 (with three cats). We got rid of a bunch of stuff and squeezed in with the bare necessities with some useful convertible (as in, folding) furniture from Ikea. When we vacated at Christmas time, our old apartment owner actually withheld our $300 security deposit to pay for the stolen fax machine. We were so indignant we took him to small claims court, to which he never appeared, and made sure we got a judgment against him for illegally withholding our security deposit. Of course, I always had to explain the judgment on my credit report was against my landlord, not my landlord against me.

So year after year as I drove by our newlywed apartment I watched it deteriorate to the point that it looked downright scary. And then a few months ago, I saw fences go up and “condos coming soon”, and then someone started tearing off the siding. I wondered what they could do to the place to make it better than it ever was, because honestly I never thought the construction was all that good.

And then yesterday when I drove by, I saw the “Model Home Open” sign. And I stopped. Just out of curiosity.

I got a tour by one of the carpenters and then the new owner, Major, took me to see the models. He is a turban-wearing detail-oriented man, well spoken and proud of his work. I was quite impressed with the finishes they have installed, and said so. There is a two-sided glass-doored cabinet they installed over the bar in the flats that I really liked the look of and commented on it. Major told me that the designer/architect told him he didn’t think it was a good idea, but I told Major that it was a good thing he argued with him and included them because they look really nice. They have slab granite counter tops, the sinks are installed below slab (they look really nice), all stainless appliances, glass doors on the shower/tubs, floating hardwood floors, very nice fixtures, and they all have been painted one of four different modern color schemes.

I didn’t tell Major that I used to live there, but I did tell him I had been in the area for a long time and watched the property deteriorate. When I asked him if he had included any “Built Green” features in the remodel, he said they tore off the old vinyl siding and installed new vinyl siding that had a insulated foam backing, and of course the appliances are Energy Star. They probably will be quite heat efficient. They re-did the decks, installed all new vinyl insulated windows, and designer window treatments.

So, a nicely remodeled two story 2×2.5 townhome, with a covered carport, can be had for $300,000. There are 4 units over the creek, and 6 units over Webster Pond. There are six 1×1 suites about 560 square feet for $209,950. There are two 2 bedroom suites, in the 1,000+ sq ft range also, Major said, that are priced a little over $300,000 since flats are more desired than townhomes (not everyone likes stairs). I think I saw a Skyline flyer there in the model but didn’t grab one.

I am going to take my husband by to show him, just for kicks. That kitchen is not nearly as big as I remembered!

I then went to Sylvan Ridge to check those “San Francisco style” townhomes to see if I could find ANY redeeming qualities in these three story all-look-alike townhomes. And surprisingly I did. But that’s another post…

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