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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 5, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 14
Chateau Apartment residents win concessions from developer
Section One
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Chateau Apartment residents win concessions from developer

City orders immediate repairs

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Residents of the Chateau Apartments at 19th Ave. & E. Fir St. announced on April 3 that they had won significant concessions from their landlord, Cadence Real Estate. The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections also sided with the tenants, finding the landlord guilty of 63 code violations.

Cadence plans to demolish the '60s-era apartment building - home to 21 households, many of them low-income people using Section 8 vouchers to pay for their housing - and replace it with smaller, market-rate units. The current residents say they don't want to move out of their neighborhood but can't afford to buy into the new development at the site.

With help from Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, Chateau residents successfully pressured the developer to give them an extra $5,000 per household above and beyond the relocation assistance required by City ordinance.

Cadence also promised to honor Section 8 vouchers until construction actually begins in about five years, thus allowing residents extra time to find new accommodations in the neighborhood some of them have called home for decades.

The City also ordered Cascade to repair a number of defects in the property. According to a March 27 letter sent by the Department of Construction and Inspections, Cadence must fix no less than 63 code violations.

'Sixty-three! That's the most violations I've ever seen,' said Devin Silvernail, of Be:Seattle, a tenants' rights organization.

The most serious violations - missing smoke detectors and heaters - must be fixed by April 15, the City said. Other violations include 'open ground electrical receptacle outlets throughout the premises,' several counts of 'unapproved plumbing assembly,' and multiple broken doors, frames, cabinets, and countertops. These must be repaired by April 29.

'This is a very important moment in the renters' rights struggle,' Sawant said at the residents' April 3 press conference. 'It's a testament to what can be achieved when renters organize and fight. And it shows the importance of having elected representatives who are willing to make enemies in high places.'

Renee Gordon, who lives at the Chateau and also provides care for her aunt, a 30-year Chateau resident, thanked Sawant for her intervention in the issue.

'Cadence didn't even think we were important enough to invite to a meeting on the future of our building,' she noted. In fact, Chateau residents only discovered Cadence's plans when they were informed of them by Sawant's office.

Ninety-three-year-old Hong Duan Yang, speaking through a translation device, said he'd lived at the Chateau for 20 years.

'I hope that our living standards can be maintained at the same level [when we relocate],' he said. 'I hope the owner considers our requests. I hope people will support us in our struggle.'

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