Laurelhurst condo sale gains momentum: Children's Hospital's expansion plans well-received by residents despite contingencies

On Tuesday, Feb. 26, Laurelon Terrace condominium owners voted 120-3 in a straw vote in favor of the tentative sale of their building for $93 million - a value calculated at more than 2.5 times the market value of each owner's unit. As Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center, 4800 Sand Point Way N.E., hopes to expand 1.5 million square feet over the next 20 years (doubling the number of current hospital beds). The hospital has been purchasing individual condominium units to its immediate west since last fall.While most residents are satisfied with the price at which their units will sell (one-bedroom units with a market value of $241,000 would be sold for slightly more than $600,000), some longtime residents are concerned with the perils of moving, especially with the hefty price tags that some Seattle-area condos come with."It is a very fair price, though a lot of us aren't thrilled with having to move," said Allene Caddy, 62, who first moved into her condo in 1978 as a single mother. When she first caught word that Children's Hospital's plan to expand included her condo building last August, she stood against it, but she has since changed her mind. "It will be rough for a lot of people, especially those older than me," she said. "We've known that they wanted the land. The writing is on the wall."LOSS OF AFFORDABLE HOUSINGThe 136-unit complex, which was constructed in 1948, houses residents of all ages, many of whom live on fixed incomes. For those opposed to the purchase, the expansion is not a matter of dollar signs; it's a matter of losing affordable housing."The concern is with the loss of affordable housing in Laurelhurst," said Jeannie Hale, Laurelhurst Community Club board president. She explained that the demolition of the complex would mean a loss of 21 percent of the area's affordable housing. "Under local law, Children's would be required to propose comparable replacement housing should it expand its boundaries and demolish housing," she said. "This is problematic because there is no place in the area where such housing could be built."The sale of the complex is contingent on the passing of state House Bill 3071, which would allow for 80 percent of the complex's owners to decide its fate, rather than the 100 percent, under existing laws. On July 1, 1990, the state Legislature amended the requirement for condominium-building purchases from 100 to 80 percent, though the law did not retroactively apply to complexes built before that date, like Laurelon Terrace. Earlier on Tuesday, about 40 of the building's owners turned out for the public hearing in the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection & Housing. Peter Buck, the local lawyer representing Laurelon, said that nearly all of the owners who went supported HB3071; one opposed it. "We crossed a major hurdle [on Tuesday]," Buck said. "This bill would not only help the owners of Laurelon, but also allow for other older condominium buildings to have the same protection." According to Buck, the bill hopes to see the Senate floor by March 14. ONLY TO CHLDREN'S HOSPITALChildren's Hospital moved from Queen Anne to the Laurelhurst neighborhood in 1953. Currently, the campus occupies about 900,000 square feet and plans to add 200 hospital beds - many of those being 4,000-square-feet single bedrooms designated for infection control. According to Children's, it will be a phased expansion."We're very gratified that the people of Laurelon approached us about this," said Suzanne Peterson, Children's Hospital's vice president of external affairs and guest services. "We're so excited about the potential of this site so we can expand our hospital facilities. It's a great opportunity for both the hospital and the community, as we have an urgent need for new beds."According to Buck, Laurelon owners would not be on board with the sale of their complex if Children's Hospital wasn't the buyer. "Even at the same price or more, I do not believe the owners would sell to anyone else but Children's," he said. "Quite a few of the owners were not in agreement at first, but as the dialogue continued, people have changed their minds. The money that Children's would be paying for the units could open up a lot of possibilities for them."RETROACTIVE SALES PAYMENTSHB3071 still needs to pass through the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection & Housing before it sees the Senate floor. If the sale closes, Children's would take over the complex on Jan. 1, 2010. The nearly 30 former Laurelon residents who have sold their units to Children's already will receive retroactive payment, making their sales equal to the sale prices of current owners.For more information on HB3071 or to view the bill's progress, visit To view Children's Hospital's expansion plans, visit[[In-content Ad]]