Jesse asked me to put something together regarding the imminent doom of the McGuire building at 2nd and Wall. The McGuire is my first and current home after moving to Seattle, so I think I can offer a perspective somewhat different from what you will read on the news or in other blogs. I suppose I can walk you through what my experience has been the last few days.
Friday 6:00 pm–Meeting Announcement Letter
I got home from work on Friday and found a rolled-up note in my door handle. This has been fairly common as the apartment managers keep us posted on various construction activities and other community events. However, this one was not from the McGuire staff but instead was from the engineering firm running the show on the investigatory work that had been going on for a few months. I might point out that the verbiage was consistently “investigatory” and “exploratory” work, so there was a long-standing indication they were looking for something.
The note stated that the firm had concluded their investigations and needed to share the findings with the residents. They asked us to attend either one of two meetings on Saturday at 10 am or 2 pm, and also offered a third meeting which I believe took place this evening.
That was about all it said. Anybody I have talked to agreed with me that the note was pretty ominous, but I think everybody had an idea that something epic was going to happen.
Saturday 10 am–The First Meeting
I went to the first meeting the next morning. We met in the hall of the Carpenter’s Union on the ground floor of the McGuire structure. I won’t bother going through the names, but there were representatives from Kennedy Associates–the real estate investment consultants who I believe ran the investigation–as well as a representative from the City of Seattle. The apartment management staff was there as well.
The meeting started as the president of Kennedy Associates read us a portion of the press release that was made available to the public later that afternoon. In summary, they announced they had found construction details too expensive to repair and there were plans to vacate the building. They were quick to assure us there was no imminent danger, but that it would be a good idea to be out of there in 2011 and beyond.
They shared with us that they took the results of their study to the city and together they made the decision to vacate the building.
Saturday 11:00 am–Apartment Hunting
Well, my Saturday plans quickly changed. A few of my neighbors and I walked around armed with the information provided to us in the meeting and checked out apartments. I actually found a place at the Centennial at 3rd and Wall that morning, and a few of my friends from the McGuire did too. I’m sure that will be a pretty easy move. Apparently the Centennial signed a ton of leases this weekend (I’ve heard numbers ranging from 9 to 20), but I’m sure many of the nearby apartment complexes felt the rush.
There was a fairly mixed reaction among the various residents. Obviously many were pretty upset. More than I expected were pretty optimistic and pleased with the efforts to help us transition out of the building. The McGuire is a pretty diverse building, but there are a lot of people closer to my age and it seems like most of the younger people I talked to had great attitudes. There are already talks of having demolition parties and other going-away events. For the number of units in the building, there was actually a pretty good community in there and many of us found new places either in the same apartment complexes or are committed to staying in Belltown.
Those are the basic facts that I suppose you can read just about anywhere. I’ll spare you the stuff you can read on the news. In the past few days, I have noticed just about anybody who has anything to say about the situation is really only interested in hearing something negative or trying to paint everybody in the worst colors they can find. I am going to try to be different for the rest of this article and share with you the experience I have had so far. I thought everybody involved dealt with us as residents as professionally and respectfully as they could given the situation.
Those railing on the apartment management and the fact that ads are still running and that people have moved in recently should note they weren’t made aware of the decision to vacate until shortly before we were informed. Moreover, many of the people on staff live in the building.
As a resident, I feel pretty well taken care of. One of the priorities for the plan they presented was to help residents move out and find new places to live as efficiently and orderly as possible. As most of you may have read already, we are getting incentives to move out sooner rather than later. Frankly, I think this is a pretty solid move given that they aren’t legally required to that at all. The apartment staff has shifted all of their focus into helping residents find new apartments, schedule moving considerations, and help us transition out in any way they can.
This is definitely not a fun thing for the residents or the apartment managers. This is a pretty bad thing for the owners and investors, and a really bad thing for Seattle. But the McGuire has been my home since I have been here and it has served me well. Even with the scaffolding, it was a great place to live and I’ll miss it. But life goes on and so will Seattle.
That is about all I can think to say right now. Hopefully that wasn’t dreadfully boring. Feel free to leave questions in the comments if you are still awake and I will do what I can to answer them.