EVERETT — The city of Everett has condemned an apartment complex at 3130 Broadway.
The deteriorating, century-old structure was deemed too dangerous for tenants.
“The place is a real mess with unsafe conditions,” building inspector Ted de Budden wrote in an internal city email.
The owners of the Broadway Station Apartments bought the place in September and planned renovations. They say they were unaware of the extent of the problems and ran into unexpected hurdles with permitting.
The eight-unit building had unsecured scaffolding that was partially covered by sheets of black plastic, according to public records obtained by The Daily Herald. The plastic was secured by ropes. There also was wiring exposed to the elements.
The city says the scrutiny started with a complaint to the building department. That prompted a Nov. 3 inspection, said Meghan Pembroke, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office. At that point, it appeared that eight to 10 people were living there.
The inspectors found construction underway without the required permits, records show. They documented the scene with photographs and posted a stop-work notice.
The property is owned by a Shoreline limited liability company, which is led by Jorge and Stephanie Quiroga. They say they had sought a permit to replace the roof before the inspection.
On Nov. 17, the city condemned the building, requiring everyone to leave by early January. It also offered assistance in relocating the tenants by connecting them with social services, Pembroke said. That process lasted into early February.
Broadway Station’s assessed value for 2018 was $464,000. The building was in “very poor condition,” said Kevin Fagerstrom, who supervises code enforcement.
A condemnation is different from an eviction. It means city officials have ruled the location unsafe to occupy. Under state law, the owners are responsible for compensating tenants for relocation.
The Quirogas say they have a long history of construction work, mostly in Seattle. They expected Broadway Station to be a family project and investment. They were counting on the rent from tenants to help fund renovations, they said.
The previous owner, an LLC based in Kenmore, did not disclose a number of issues, according to the Quirogas. When they started cleanup, they found rot and signs of a previous fire.
“The intentions on this property were good, to make it better and clean it up and have it be affordable living,” Jorge Quiroga said. “It turned sour really quickly with the city.”
He and his wife talked to multiple departments and thought they were on track for renovation, he said. They were surprised to see the condemnation order and the timelines for next steps, he said. They say they were given conflicting information, and now they have problems on site from trespassers and litter.
A permit has been issued to get the roof replaced, with the cost estimated at $20,000. All other construction remains prohibited.
The city also cited the property for code enforcement violations. The citation has been amended several times, most recently in January.
It orders the Quirogas to get the building up to code by mid-June. The case is scheduled to go before the hearing examiner on March 15.
The west side of the building was “compromised by deterioration” and by the unlawful construction, making for dangerous conditions, the citation reads. Potential fire exits were blocked, and parts of the floor were gone. The scaffolding, in the alley, had no barriers to keep out passersby. The gutters and siding were warped and damaged.
In recent weeks, a pile of lumber could be seen on the lawn. Some windows were boarded over. The scaffolding was gone, but the black plastic remained. The second story was missing a section of railing.
The city condemns about three or four buildings a month, although most of the notices are short-lived, Fagerstrom said. The most common reason is a lack of utilities due to unpaid bills. Fire damage and structural flaws also may be factors.
About 65 buildings in the city are under condemnation orders. Some go into effect immediately for life-safety reasons, Fagerstrom said. Others may be granted a slightly longer timeframe for relocation, knowing it can be a significant disruption for tenants.
Some orders last a few days or weeks, although “we do have a handful of properties that have been condemned for years,” he said.