West Seattle real estate: Morgan Junction micro-apartment building Viridian up for sale

The Morgan Junction micro-apartment building Viridian, which generated the first big controversy over construction of apartments with little or no offstreet parking, is up for sale.

(WSB photo, September 2015)

We first reported in October 2013 about the plan for 6917 California SW, at the time on the books as 30 apartments with no offstreet-parking spaces. While that type of development is now semi-common, it wasn’t back then, and community concerns led to special meetings, including this one at which city reps explained what led up to the trend, including the 2012 changes in parking rules, and this one in which developer Mark Knoll explained the plan. He said at that meeting that he intended to hold the building for his own “portfolio.” The building was finished two years (and one settlement) later. Though Knoll estimated at the 2013 meeting that the studios might rent for ~$700, the 198-to-265-square-foot units are going for $990 to $1250, according to the flyer for the listing. The building itself is listed at $5,000,000.

33 Replies to "West Seattle real estate: Morgan Junction micro-apartment building Viridian up for sale"

  • Diane March 10, 2017 (1:07 am)

    don’t you just love it when developers lie, lie, lie?

  • Raye March 10, 2017 (3:18 am)

    Sleazy. Wonder if he’ll make a nice fat profit.

  • My two cents ... March 10, 2017 (3:59 am)

    @diane, @raye 

    I think that you are being a bit harsh — circumstances and events occur which may result in someone having to change their plans with respect to their business plans.  Would the developer be less “sleazy” if they only realized a “thin” profit as opposed to a “fat” one?  What is the standard that you are holding him to?  If your boss offers you a 5% raise instead of the standard 2.5%, are you going to reject it (even though it is double)? As was referenced in the article, this type was development was one of the first ones — there had to be a certain level of risk that was higher than a traditional development. The rules and process allowed for this type of development — be active in the community, talk to the elected representatives about these issues (or vote accordingly) if you want to make an impact – hurling out comments alluding to “lies” and “sleaze” don’t advanced the issues or solutions.

    • Mark Schletty March 10, 2017 (8:37 am)

       I suspect the “lie” and “sleazy” comments have more to do with charging the exorbitant rents. $990-$1250 per month for 198-265 square feet is more per square foot than high end rental units with much better amenities. And with much lower per square foot development costs.  This is goughing low income people in order to obtain huge profits (sleazy), and charging $290-$550  more in rent than promised (lies).  I think the claims are probably accurate.

      • AMD March 10, 2017 (10:04 am)

        I’d say it’s also a tad unfair to characterize a rise in price between a 2013 estimate and 2017 market rates as a lie.  The article doesn’t say he was charging those prices in 2013 when he estimated they’d rent for ~$700.  He said that’s the going rate today.

        • Captin March 10, 2017 (12:10 pm)

          I agree. It’s always assume the worst right? I really feel for people that are struggling to make rent. That really sucks but it doesn’t necessarily mean a landlord or property owner is sleazy or dishonest. Maybe this one is, I don’t know.

          On “affordable” it would be better described as “more affordable” or even better “less expensive”. $10,000 a month in rent is affordable for some. $1000 is a lot but it is better than $1800.

  • Jim Ellis March 10, 2017 (7:38 am)

    Seattle is chock-full of sleazy liars if making a profit on the sale of a piece of real estate is somehow unethical. Please direct me to people who are selling their houses with the buyer’s interests in mind.

  • Gene March 10, 2017 (7:46 am)

    What you should take from this is don’t believe the first things you hear about what something will cost- so easy to think -great-& get behind a project that claims prices will start at $700- when in reality that jumps up$200. You can rarely believe the first numbers that come out. But of course what can you do when it’s a done deal?  

  • Anonymous-Viridian-Resident March 10, 2017 (8:59 am)

    I live here and can confirm the rent is in fact in the $900-$1300 range. I personally pay $950 for a 203 square foot apartment (monthly total with utilities and parking is $1115.) There are 2 parking spaces in the back alley, which go for $80.00 each. The apartments are essentially little boxes, with little-to-no thought put into efficiency. There are 2 washers and 2 dryers for 30 units (they break every other day.) The water pressure is non-existent. The sound-proofing is non-existent. Having experienced this apartment first-hand, I do tend to lean towards the “lies” and “sleaze” mindset. This apartment was done as cheaply as possible for the highest profit possible. The whole “live tiny” thing is cool in theory. However, (in Seattle) all it really is, is the ONLY option for people who can’t afford to live here. I am a young-professional, single-income person, and this is absolutely all I can afford unless I want to live with a roommate. I wish the developers and designers would add a bit more square footage and be smarter with storage. It’s not cool or trendy or designed to be a solution for green-minded people. It’s a way to shove as many people as possible into the smallest space possible while making a profit.

    • Heather March 10, 2017 (9:19 am)

      Thank you for your first-hand comments. I’m really disappointed to hear them; though unsurprised, still disappointed. It’s expensive to live here but I strongly feel that even if a home is renting at the lower end of the rental price spectrum the building should provide privacy and be appropriately plumbed.

    • John March 12, 2017 (11:21 am)

      Although Anonymous-Veridian-Resident provides a renter’s perspective, inaccurate hyperbole is used, “ The water pressure is non-existent.”   

      The water pressure is certainly not “non-existent” as the water pressure at that elevation exceeds allowable pressure and requires a pressure reducing device.  “Anonymous” may be from a part of the country that does not require water restricting fixtures to conserve our water.  Here we are required to use water conservation aka low flow fixtures. 

      The leads one to question if the washing machines actually do “break every other day”?

      As well as the complaints about sound proofing being non-existent, whatever that means.  Building codes nor industry standards for housing construction do not address such “sound proofing”.  But it would certainly be expected that small single room dwellings with neighbors directly  through walls  without buffering rooms as in larger units would be louder.  And with little that could be done without great expense, the buildings are constructed the same as most others with conventional framing covered with 1/2 inch drywall.

  • seaopgal March 10, 2017 (10:17 am)

    One of the reasons (besides parking) that neighborhoods have a right to be wary of microhousing is the higher turnover rate. In one study, significantly fewer microhousing tenants indicated they were likely to renew their leases than did renters of conventional units, 41% to 57% respectively.  (Similar gap when asked if they would “definitely recommend” their building to others.) This churn can lead to higher than anticipated maintenance and operating costs (while also negatively affecting neighborhood stability and involvement). No idea whether this is a factor in Viridian’s sale, of course …


  • BlairJ March 10, 2017 (10:37 am)

    If developers want to continue to build these micro apartments then the city should require that the rent be limited to a pre-defined multiple of the hourly minimum wage.

    • WSB March 10, 2017 (10:51 am)

      Interestingly, like many newer apartment buildings around here and the rest of the city, this one, according to the listing flyer (linked in the story), is a participant in the Multi-Family Tax Exemption program, which means that a certain percentage of units have to be affordable to people making a certain income, and in exchange the owner gets a break on property tax. – TR

    • Captin March 10, 2017 (12:19 pm)

      That’s what they’re doing now with MFTE as WSB stated as well as Incentive Zoning downtown and the proposal for MHA (Mandatory Housing Affordability) throughout the city. The goal of this is to create more housing in general, micro housing on up to more family size units of 2 and 3 bedrooms some of which would be “affordable” based on where one’s income sits in the proposed affordability table.

  • flimflam March 10, 2017 (10:46 am)

    someone should buy it, tear it down, and build a cute two bedroom home there with a driveway and or garage!

    • Swede. March 10, 2017 (11:15 am)

      That’s a nice and novel idea. But I doubt anyone would pay the million + that would end up costing…

      Would you?

      • sam-c March 10, 2017 (11:46 am)

        (I think that was a joke…. since that is kinda what was torn down to build the microhousing… and or/ to play into the crowd that says that all residences need on site parking… I think ….(since I’m not flimflam))

        • Swede. March 10, 2017 (12:59 pm)

          I guessed that too. 

          I sure don’t like how they build and destroy history here either, but it won’t change due to that profit always is #1. 

  • Anonymous-Viridian-Resident March 10, 2017 (11:52 am)

    I’d like to address the affordability-based-on-income aspect of these apartments. It’s true they do offer “lower” rent based on your income. (I’d also like to correct my last post. My rent is $1,005 per month, with utilities + other fees it comes out to $1,115.)

    I was required to prove that I make equal to or less than $40,000 a year in order to qualify for lower rent ($1,005.) All it takes is some pretty simple math to see that someone making around 40k a year (PRE-tax) is going to struggle to pay this rent.

    Bottom line: affordability is nothing more than a buzzword here. There apartments aren’t actually affordable to most people making at or below 40k pre-tax. 

  • Diane March 10, 2017 (12:05 pm)

    omg, $1,005 is the “affordable” MFTE rate???  disgusting; and btw, the deal the developer gets for having a few MFTE not-really-affordable-at-$1,005-rate-apts is NOT paying ANY property tax for 12 years; so he’s price-gouging on the rents AND paying zero property taxes

    • WSB March 10, 2017 (12:10 pm)

      Actually, there IS some property tax. You can see all the numbers on the flyer as linked above (these flyers go into copious detail, from the rents that are being charged currently to the property taxes that . The property tax exemption is for the “residential improvements” – in other words, the building itself. They still pay tax on the land. And if the building had any commercial space, that would be taxed as well – this one, of course, does not. – TR

    • Anonymous-Viridian-Resident March 10, 2017 (12:33 pm)

      Diane –  I’m assuming it’s based on the income. I’m closer to the 40k cap, so that’s my rent. So, perhaps someone making 25k would pay somewhere in the $850 – $950 range? Either way, it’s really a high price for a closet-sized apartment with subpar construction. This seems to be the going rate for micro-studios in Seattle, though. I for one haven’t found anything cheaper. To Viridian’s credit, they are providing fair and average pricing by Seattle standards. What a bummer that this is our reality though. Something really needs to be done to make housing more affordable in the area. 

      • WSB March 10, 2017 (12:49 pm)

        MFTE is not a sliding scale. It’s not based on your income – though you have to be income-eligible- it’s based on a certain percentage of a certain level of income – as explained in the city rule:


        Again, if you look at the listing flyer linked above – or right here if you can’t find it there (second-to-last page):


        all the rents currently being charged are in the listing brochure, as are a variety of other numbers related to the property.

        • WSB March 10, 2017 (12:50 pm)

          PS – Thank you, “anonymous” resident, for joining the discussion here.

          • Anonymous-Viridian-Resident March 10, 2017 (12:56 pm)

            Thank you for being so informative with the links and resources. I didn’t scroll that far down to see all the rents listed– I’m glad this is all transparent. 

          • Captin March 10, 2017 (2:29 pm)

            I echo the thank you. People need to hear more about situations like this because there is a TON of resistance to things being proposed to help reduce the financial burden on renters.

            The last time I was a renter (2003) I paid $700 a month for a 750sqft 1 BR apartment in Magnolia with a fireplace and my own in unit laundry. It’s probably close to triple that nowadays and I know people’s incomes haven’t tripled since then. I couldn’t afford it now. 

      • Diane March 10, 2017 (2:27 pm)

        thanks WSB and Anonymous Viridian Resident; yes, I wish the MFTE was sliding scale, or offering apts at 30% AMI; most of the MFTE “affordable” apts in Seattle have been at 80% AMI, some at 60% AMI, both are pretty damn high to be supposedly affordable; THANK YOU so much AVR for your insider truth-telling on what it’s really like to live in the Viridian; we rarely get to hear from the real-life people  living in these over-priced tiny rooms (only because there’s no place else affordable to live in West Seattle)

        • Anonymous-Viridian-Resident March 10, 2017 (4:01 pm)

          No problem, I’m glad to join the discussion. Micro-housing has potential, but we’re going about it all wrong. It should be an affordable solution for individuals seeking small dwellings due to personal preference, not 1 step above homelessness. It shouldn’t be a sign of poverty or a bruise on the community, it should be eco-friendly, minimalist, and an *option.* Parking, affordability, and quality of construction are huge short comings that the developers need to address. I don’t think any reasonable person is vilifying Viridian, developers, etc for making a profit, but making excess profit at the expense of the people and community is something we need to watch for.

  • 2nd generation March 10, 2017 (3:43 pm)

    A V R. Question. The question of cars comes up with these units. Do you have a car? How many people in your building have a car would you say? Thank’s for shareing what these units are REALLY like.

    • Anonymous-Viridian-Resident March 10, 2017 (4:09 pm)

      2ND Generation – 

      I do own a vehicle. It’s hard for me to say how many people have cars- I can only visually confirm that I’ve seen 5 residents parking cars on the street. If there’s more, I haven’t witnessed it. I would imagine there has to be more, but I work a lot and rarely see people coming/going from the building.

  • D DelRio March 10, 2017 (5:27 pm)

    I have a friend who pays about $900.00 including utilities for a spacious one bedroom on Capitol Hill. It may be an older building, but when I am there, I can’t hear his neighbors, and there is several washer and dryer units in the building. This place miles away from downtown is a rip off! Semi affordable older apartments are out there if you have the time to look. 

    • CAM March 10, 2017 (8:57 pm)

      That’s part of the problem. People don’t have time to look. There are huge financial penalties to breaking your lease early so you can’t start looking until shortly before your lease is up. And your rent goes up drastically if you decide to go month to month to give yourself more flexibility. Even then, renters only have to give 21 days notice that they are moving out meaning that if you aren’t looking at exactly the right time you will miss out on a whole swath of available apartments that would be available around the right time period. There is no consistent place to look, you end up searching 6 or 7 different places for apartment listings which takes up so much time. And then you need to find the time to go and look at numerous apartments in order to figure out which is the best one and which are just complete nightmares. At this point, if you were lucky enough to find something, you now need to pack up all of your belongings and move them very quickly. It’s a full time job just to find a place to live. If there were some organized system like the MLS that would be fantastic but that’s really never going to happen because of the number of independent landlords and people’s hatred for any form of regulation. So you end up finding the new development online which has good pictures, drawings with square footage, an online application you can fill out whenever, and is just far simpler and less hassle. This is no small part of why you get people willing to live in concrete boxes and 4 white walls. 

Sorry, comment time is over.