Top 10 Largest Multifamily Conversions in the Pacific Northwest

The area recorded a high number of adaptive reuse projects that transformed hotels into affordable multifamily communities, breathing new life into historic buildings. Some of the structures served military purposes during World War II.

Adaptive reuse continues to be a growing trend in high-density markets, contributing to the revitalization of the urban landscape and creating new opportunities for businesses and residents. The largest metros in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle and Portland, have recorded strong population gains in the past years, which led to a rise in household formation and a need for more low-income housing.

A particularity of the area is the conversion of hotels into affordable multifamily communities. This option has become increasingly appealing since government programs such as Housing Opportunity Bond or Portland’s 10-year plan to end homelessness provide support for such projects.

The list below includes the largest conversion projects in the region and is based on Yardi Matrix multifamily data. The compilation takes into consideration the unit count for redeveloped apartment properties across the Pacific Northwest.

10. The Senator in Yakima, Wash.

The Senator

The 161-unit community is located at 20 E. Staff Sgt. Pendleton Way in Yakima, right in the heart of Washington state. The Senator encapsulates the former Sydney and Roza hotels, built in 1909 and 1914, respectively. The structures, interconnected through a skybridge, have been converted into a residential property in 1977.

The Class C apartments feature 146 single-room occupancy units of 300 square feet each and 15 one-bedroom units of 600-square-foot each. Along the years, downtown Yakima saw multiple adaptive reuse projects, as developers  transformed historic buildings into market-rate and affordable communities with the aid of local tax incentives.

9. Mark on 8th in Seattle

Mark on 8th

Part of MacFarlane Partners’ 174-unit community previously served as a two-story office building dating back to 1931. The property housed the offices of renowned architect J. Lister Holmes. Following the conversion process— between 2014 and 2016—the building kept its floor-to-ceiling windows, wood and brick textures as well as its exposed concrete and ductwork elements. Mark on 8th counts seven stories and is located at 285 Eighth Ave. in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. It includes studios, one- and two-bedroom units, a green roof and a rooftop terrace as well as 130 parking spaces.

8. Madrona Studios in Portland, Ore.

Madrona Studios

The 2010 conversion of the 1965-built Ramada Inn was anything but smooth, as it took place during the collapse of the national financial market. Nonprofit organization Central City Concern, with the help of 23 lenders and programs including Housing Opportunity Bond and Portland’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, transformed the four-story hotel at 10 N. Weidler St. into 176 units for low-income residents.

The facility is also home to a 75-bed detoxification shelter. Designed by William Wilson Architects and Howard S. Wright Constructors, the asset boasts solar panels that heat up 80 percent of the water used by residents.

7. South Block in Salem, Ore.

South Block

Located at 315 S.E. Commercial St. in Salem, Ore., what is now a four-story multifamily asset was initially the Boise Cascade paper converting warehouse, built in 1920 and closed in 2007. Mountain West Investment purchased the 13-acre vacant industrial property and received a $3.9 million, 10-year property tax abatement to redevelop it. Upon its conversion, in 2016, it became a 179-unit community comprising studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom units featuring a landscaped courtyard, two lounges and an online concierge.

6. Estate Building in Portland, Ore.

Estate Building

The second building on the list converted, owned and managed by Central City Concern is Estate Building, a 191-unit affordable community in Portland. Located at 225 N.W. Couch St., it was previously known as Estate Hotel. Built in 1914, the development was one of Portland’s first concrete-frame structures.

Following a conversion in 2007 funded through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, it now offers 164 single-room occupancy units for individuals recovering or transitioning from correctional facilities. Two other stories, comprising 36 new units, were added in 2007. The owner replaced the building’s systems, upgraded the seismic resistance and added a common area for residents.

5. Winthrop in Tacoma, Wash.

Winthrop

Winthrop Hotel, built in 1927 and named after explorer Theodore Winthrop, was once a luxury hotel known as Citizens Hotel of Tacoma. Today, it is a 194-unit community located at 776 Commerce St. in the city’s Old City Hall Historic District. The 12-story property is a mix of 80 studios and 114 one-bedroom affordable and market-rate units. Redwood Housing Partners acquired it through foreclosure in 2015 and plans to reposition the property through a multimillion dollar renovation funded by a tax-exempt note and tax credit equity.

4. Lowell Emerson in Seattle

Lowell Emerson

The City Center Real Estate-owned, two-building community is located in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood, at 1102 Eighth Ave. Completed in 1928 by John S. Hudson as a grand hotel, it underwent an adaptive reuse conversion in 1950, which resulted in 196 residential units. Lowell Emerson includes 192 studios of 350 square feet each and four 1,100-square-foot penthouses. It also features a 2,000-square-foot retail component.

3. The Josephinum in Seattle

The Josephinum

Seattle’s 221-unit community is owned and managed by Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington. It stands tall where the once-glorious New Washington Hotel stood and it was built by development tycoon James Moore in 1908. Its guests included U.S. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson.

Located at 1902 Second Ave. in the city’s Belltown neighborhood, the hotel was converted to residential in 1963 and underwent a complete renovation in 1991. The 14-story building is now a private senior housing facility encompassing 209 studios and 12 one-bedroom apartments.

2. The Frye in Seattle

The Frye

Originally built in 1908 and located at 223 Yesler Way in Seattle, the 234-unit The Frye was previously known as Frye Hotel. Built by Seattle pioneer George Frye and his wife, Louisa, it was the largest hotel north of San Francisco. During World War II and after, The Frye served as military housing. The building was transformed in a multifamily community in 1970 and is currently owned by Low Income Housing Institute. It comprises 123 studios and 111 one-bedroom units.

1. Addison on Fourth in Seattle

Addison on Fourth

The largest converted multifamily property on the list is Addison on Fourth, located at 308 S. Fourth Ave. in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle. The nine-story property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was previously known as New Richmond Hotel. Completed in 1910 and used as a military hospital during WWII, it was rebranded in 1966 as the Downtown Hotel Apartments. It underwent conversion to low-income apartments and was renamed the Downtowner Apartments in 1971.

Goodman Real Estate acquired the building in 2012 through tax credits and low-income housing provisions. Following complete renovations and seismic retrofit, Addison on Fourth features a new hybrid solar-thermal system, new lobby, resident lounge and fitness center.

Images courtesy of Yardi Matrix

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