Eyesore no more: Former nursing home getting new life as apartments

EVERETT — In the shell of a former nursing home, demolition workers rip out corroded pipe, tear down drywall and sweep up broken glass.

It’s prelude to a long-vacant building at 3515 Hoyt Ave. being turned into an 85-unit apartment building for seniors, and the removal of a long-standing eyesore in the Port Gardner neighborhood.

Project manager Jeff Pinorini said that the building renovation should be complete by Feb. 1.

One of the building’s neighbors is particularly happy about the change.

“It has been a pretty dilapidated eyesore on the community,” said Kim Poole, head pastor of the Spirit of Grace United Methodist Church, which is located across the alley at 3530 Colby Ave.

“I think we’re all pretty ecstatic to see it move forward and change from that,” she said.

The four-story building has stood vacant since 1996, and has been vandalized and fallen into disrepair. For a long time it was a frequent campsite for squatters.

Graffiti adorns some walls. Near the elevator bank, a strip of floral wallpaper might date from the building’s construction in 1964. That’s all going to go.

“It’s been a long time coming since we started looking into it,” Pinorini said.

Pinorini, who is managing the construction work for Trimark Property Group and will be involved in managing the completed project, said pretty much every aspect of the building, except for the foundation and cinder block walls, will be replaced. The roof needs minor repairs, but is otherwise in good shape.

Trimark purchased the building Sept. 30 for $1.45 million from the son of the building’s original developer. Trimark, based in Pacific, owns and operates shopping centers, gas stations and multifamily housing facilities, including the Westgate Apartments in Edmonds and numerous apartment buildings in Seattle’s University District.

Removing asbestos and the accumulated debris and garbage from years of neglect and squatting cost another $120,000, Pinorini said. Ultimately, about four Dumpsters of garbage was hauled away. The work crews found used needles and other dangerous materials among the litter.

“It was pretty darn nasty for a long time, to put it mildly,” he said.

Kim Poole said they sometimes found people sleeping under the church stairs or porch.

“Some of them might have been people who were trying to live in the old building and trying to feel safe,” she said.

Michael LaFon, the Seattle architect hired for the project, had his own unpleasant discovery.

“The last time I was in the building I found a pair of bloody brass knuckles,” LaFon said.

LaFon has worked on previous multifamily projects, including Everett’s Port Gardner Wharf.

When the building reopens next spring, it will contain 85 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments for residents age 55 and up. Two common areas will be added to the first and fourth floors, and the main entrance of the building will have a ramp compatible with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The grounds will be landscaped and 85 parking stalls, many of them covered, will be built on the property.

The development plan required buying the land for the parking lot back from the church.

In order for the church to have adequate parking, the developer will be turning the church’s underused playground into a parking lot.

“It’s a win-win for us,” Poole said.

Built in 1964 by Kirkland architect C. Raymond Merriwether, the 11,693-square-foot building was operated as a nursing home called Merricrest until 1972. It was then sold and renamed Virginia Manor, but it was shut down by federal bankruptcy court in 1996 because it owed the state and federal government for overpayments of Medicare and Medicaid.

Then the building languished, a target of vandals, squatters and neglect.

Merriwether bought back the building in 1998, but plans to reopen it fell apart. Merriwether died in 2011. His son, Clyde Merriwether, sold the building in September.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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