It looks like the picture for renters may not be quite as bleak as we have been led to believe in recent articles. Turns out that new apartments are being built, and even some condo projects are becoming apartments instead.
Apartments have been the poor stepchild to condominium towers over the past few years in downtown Seattle. They’re back in vogue now, but the national housing storm may dampen their return to prominence.
“Isn’t it always this way?” Seattle’s Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors asked in a December report on the apartment market. “Apartment development picks up just as our economy slows down.”
Los Angeles developer Urban Partners announced Monday that it had broken ground on Aspira, a 37-story apartment tower on a former church parking lot at the southwest corner of Stewart Street and Terry Avenue. The Hanover Co., of Houston, is already building the Olivian, a 27-story luxury apartment building at Eighth Avenue and Olive Way, and several other towers are in the works.
Aspira was originally slated for condos. Julie Benezet, managing director of the Urban Partners’ Seattle office, attributed the change to a glut of announced condominium projects, skittishness among the investors who fund condo towers because of condo speculation in other parts of the country, an apartment supply that has shrunk because of a lack of new construction since the dot-com meltdown in 2001 and conversion of existing apartments to condos in recent years.
The article goes on to quote predictions (by Matthew Gardner, amazingly enough) of slowing job growth, rising vacancy rates, a “complete stop” of condo conversions, and stabilizing rents (i.e. tracking with salaries). Now where have we seen this pattern before? Hmm… Oh yeah, pretty much every other bubble city that has seen their market deflate before us.
So much for all the anti-rent scare tactics to keep up the flow of suckers buying overpriced homes.
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle Times, 12.10.2007)