Are people being priced out of Seattle?

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by ABBEY GIBB / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on February 18, 2014 at 11:38 PM

SEATTLE-- In the next few years Amazon said they will hire an additional 12,000 employees and they all have to live somewhere.  But at what cost?  The rapid redevelopment could become an epidemic for all of King County.

The average one bedroom in South Lake Union costs $2,200.  That's more expensive than many of the trendy neighborhoods of San Francisco.

Just outside his door, Patrick Tompkins' Capitol Hill neighborhood off "East John" is rapidly changing.

"There's one woman who's lived there for 26 years.  There's still two tenants hanging on, but they will be evicted. You can see the land use sign is up," he said as he walked down the street.

The 1920s apartment complex just two doors down will soon make way for a brand new five-story unit.  Following a trend that's lined his historic street.

"In the last couple of years, it's really taken a turn.  That threatens the diversity that makes this neighborhood so wonderful," he said.

Rents have doubled, homes torn down, low income housing gone.  Tompkins bought his house 15 years ago and worries he might be one of the last standing.

"The pace of gentrification and displacement that's happening in this neighborhood is really frightening to me," he added.

That pace can be seen all over South Lake Union.  Two huge projects are up for design review Tuesday night including a 40-story, 450 unit apartment project next to Amazon's campus in the Denny Triangle.

So how expensive is this area getting?  A quick search shows a 350-square foot studio apartment going for $1,100-1200 a month.

The unrest by those squeezed out is bubbling up.  Just last week, protesters blocked Microsoft connector shuttles on Capitol Hill. Yelling, "Gentrification stops here" they handed out fliers saying the company "was sucking what's left of Seattle's soul."

It echos the chants getting louder in San Francisco, the country's most expensive city.  More than 100 protesters recently surrounded two tech buses.

"New condos going up and buildings coming down but we don't see any affordable housing going back up," said one protester.

Tompkins knows this is just the beginning.

"They're not done with us, this is too valuable a piece of real estate. If anyone thinks they're going to go away, I have a bridge to sell them."

A bridge, yes. But his house? No.
 

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