Historic Queen Anne High goes condo

Generations of Grizzlies who went to Queen Anne High School might have a hard time recognizing the old place these days. After a decade as luxury apartments, the historic building is being converted to condominiums.

There will be 137 condos ranging from studios to one- and two-bedrooms, and they are selling from just under $300,000 for a studio to $1.2 million for a penthouse with an expansive view of downtown and the Space Needle, according to sales manager Katie Citron.

The project features 45 different floor plans, said John Hatton, vice president of Legacy Partners, the California development company that spent $25,250,000 to buy the property from Lorig & Associates. "In actuality, I've never seen two units the same," Hatton added.

Renovation costs will range from approximately $8.2 million to $9.6 million, he said. "We went down to the walls," Hatton explained. But not completely in some cases. "We retained the blackboards in some of the units," he said.

Hatton concedes that old school blackboards are an unusual touch for a condominium. But some tenants are using them to leave messages for family members, and some are using them for artwork, he said.

Each condo will include a washer and dryer, stainless-steel appliances, new cabinets, new plumbing and electrical work, new mill work and fixtures, along with granite countertops, Hatton said. "So basically, the units are brand-new with a touch of the old." There will also be a new rooftop garden, he said.

Existing residents were offered the chance to buy the condos before the general public. "I think we had nine tenants purchase units," Citron said. "The people who bought were really excited." There are 157 parking places for the condos, and each unit gets one, she said. "And they can purchase a second one [for $30,000]."

Interest in the condos is high, according to Hatton. "We had over 500 people last weekend for our grand opening," he said last week. "We've sold 47; the rest are under construction."

The development company has had to tread softly as they remodel the school, which opened in 1909 and finally closed in 1981. "It's an historic building," Hatton noted, and that means the city's Landmark Preservation Board has to OK any changes.

"We didn't want to change anything on the fa├žade," Hatton said. There is one exception: The stucco exterior on a 1986 addition to the four-building complex will be removed because it leaks, he said.

Marc Stiles, from the nyhus public-relations firm handling publicity for the project, said that a lot of the new condo tenants are young professionals. "And there are downsizers, of course," he added.

The old high school is only one of the numerous apartment buildings in Seattle that have been converted into condos lately, Hatton noted. "It's certainly part of the trend, but unlike most conversions, it's truly an asset," he said.

Hatton admits he is more excited than normal about the Queen Anne project. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime deal," he said. "It's an honor."
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