King County Housing Authority buys Ballinger Commons

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Ballinger Commons

By Diane Hettrick

King County Housing Authority (KCHA) has purchased Ballinger Commons, the huge, multi-building apartment complex on 77 acres at N 205th between Meridian and 1st Ave NE.

Ballinger Commons was built in 1989. The clubhouse, fitness center and playground were remodeled 20 years later. The 485 units come in 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms, with some units having two bathrooms. There are two pools, a spa, racquetball court, and tennis courts. Units have washers and dryers and most have fireplaces.

The 2018 tax appraisal was over $100 million but the actual sale price is not yet public. The previous owner was BRE Properties.

In the real estate listing, one of the selling points was that the rents could immediately be raised an average of $300 a unit. Current rents range from $1200 - 2000.

"The only thing the tenants will notice," said Dan Watson, Deputy Director and Chief Development Officer, "is that their rents won't go up as fast as they have been."

The King County Housing Authority is an independent municipal corporation, serving all of King county outside of Seattle. It was formed in 1939 by the State of Washington to provide affordable housing and related services. Their first project was to provide affordable housing for miners in Black Diamond so they could live close to their jobs. After that, they focused on providing housing for defense workers during WW II.

After the war, they turned their attention to low-income housing and have been acquiring rental properties ever since.

Their mission is to preserve affordable housing, so that people with incomes at less than 50-60% of median can afford to stay in their communities and live near their work.

Although the goal at each property is to have half of the units rented to income-qualified tenants, there are no plans to displace current tenants.

Watson said that KCHA is very excited to acquire Ballinger Commons. The units have large bedrooms and KCHA appreciates all the trees.

They are enthused about what is happening in Shoreline, said Watson. The Commons is close to jobs, good schools, the Aurora transit center, pretty good public transportation, and soon, the 185th Sound Transit station.

It's the largest single property they have acquired at one time, although Watson said they have one of equal size in Bellevue that was purchased in three sales, as property became available.

KCHA is the largest landlord in King county, owning over 100 properties.

KCHA also owns Ballinger Homes, a complex on Ballinger Way. It is federally funded, with federal rent subsidies. They administer the Section 8 voucher program for the Federal Government. There is currently very little funding for Section 8, although the need is still great.

The housing authority also owns Northridge I and II in North City, four units in Echo Cove on Aurora, Lake House by Aurora Village, Briarwood Court on Midvale, Paramount House on 145th, and Westminster Manor on Dayton. Several properties are Senior living.

KCHA receives no funds from state, county, or cities. They cover operating costs by rents charged to tenants and federal funding. Their annual consolidated budget is about $221.7 million. About 400 employees work at the Tukwila headquarters and field offices around King County.

They are governed by a five member volunteer Board of Commissioners, appointed by the county executive and approved by the King County Council. They partner with social service agencies to provide support services to tenants.

Correction: Dan Watson is the Deputy Director of KCHA; Stephen Norman is the Executive Director. Information in the story came from Dan Watson.


Granny K January 2, 2018 at 9:35 AM  

As a resident of Ballinger Commons I love this! The most important words were, "...will not raise rents and will not displace current residents.."

Anonymous,  January 2, 2018 at 10:10 AM  

I am a resident at BC and we were all told the complex had been sold, but not to KCHA for low income housing. Plus, my rent is above $2000, so I'm concerned how much more it is going to go up.

Anonymous,  January 2, 2018 at 12:39 PM  

I'll place my bets on KHCA mowing down the greenspace and trails at BC to build additional, taller, denser buildings and cash in on that enticing twelve year tax break.

Anonymous,  January 2, 2018 at 3:21 PM  

Since the new administration took over the property (December 15th) you can tell big changes are happening, the landscaping is not being taken care of, the recreational area is dirty, the pool is still with water and without cover creating a potential hazard. The computers from the pool table area were taken away.

Anonymous,  January 2, 2018 at 4:58 PM  

That's a lot of lawn. I'd like to see tenant vegetable gardens. That property could grow a lot of food.

britt January 2, 2018 at 5:07 PM  

As a new resident (moved in during September 2017) This makes me really happy. While I work full time, and my husband works full time, we only just barely squeak by making 65k a year *together*. Finding affordable housing is one of the hardest things to do in Seattle, and I hope to live at this complex for a long time.

Chief Denman January 4, 2018 at 5:49 PM  

There is a sad truth in this quick sale of the place I and my wife had called home for 5 years now. There was only one letter hand out on the day of the 15th that stated it was nice working with you renter. Nothing from the new property management team look over the property for King county Housing. We have no contact info on how the new owner and property manager are going to work on the continuity from them to us the renters. Since the take over there has not been a trash pickup since the 15th DEC 2017. We also have adult family homes in our complex as many of them here do. Now we have toileted adult under garment with human waist exposed around children and bets. When asked about having it picked up we have been informed to call the county and DSHS. Here the sad part and the truth, When Government ententes purchase properties and a hire uninterested property manger to meet customer satisfaction our Living areas become less and less cared for. They both take the money and make excuses for their action. As far as rent goes, i dont believe the statement in this article. our current rate is one of the lowest here and it is above the the highest listed. Of course this is the opinion and thoughts of the why and reason of the writer of the article. As a renter I would expect better communication. Better care, our building still has a leak in the storage area. No longer do we have a maintenance person to through ice melt ice out with the weather colder at night. Please Fix your errors and communicate King County to your renters on how you plan on fixing the issues and not allowing your property management team fail us in our homes. PED

Anonymous,  January 8, 2018 at 8:24 AM  

The people in the office were very friendly and helped me set up my new automatic payment account. However, my lease renews next month so I could see the new rent amount, it is a significant increase, more than BRE raised my rent in the previous three years.

Anonymous,  May 21, 2018 at 10:24 PM  

I had no idea that BC was bought by the King County Housing Authority until another tenant told me about 3 days ago. I did not receive any notice about the change in ownership. As a long term tenant, I am now concerned about how I will be affected by the change. Will my rent go up when my current lease runs out? What other changes will be made, such as fewer maintenance people or higher water/garbage/sewer rates? I do not know how to contact the King County Housing Authority, but we all deserve more information. Does anyone else agree?

Chuck S June 17, 2018 at 11:45 AM  

This place has turned into a dump and poor customer service. The office NEVER calls you back about loud neighbors, broken into cars, mail, tent, or leasing information. It’s such poor quality. We have a abandoned car that was broken into and nothing has been done about it. It’s such a dump. Also was accused of not paying a deposit even though it showed they deposited my check. Issues from the start. Check YELP before you check this dump out.

Anonymous,  July 19, 2018 at 9:30 AM  

We moved in the Summer of 2017 because the place was well manicured, clean and quiet. The front desk was prompt and friendly. When the property changed hands it was abrupt with no notice and things were immediately different. Now, 6 months later the signs of neglect are glaringly obvious. The tenants next to us leave beer cans and are loud with no regard to others. The grounds are not maintained so weeds are growing and the plants are ignored making things look shabby. People are not picking up their dog droppings and it is starting to accumulate. I even had to ask the "grounds" guy to pick up a pile of trash next to the walk way of my building that had a used tampon in it. The pool area never gets cleaned and there are bits of trash as aftermath of irresponsible tenants.
This place used to be cool. That's what you get when government steps in. Lower quality.

Anonymous,  July 25, 2018 at 10:50 AM  

"The only thing the tenants will notice," said Dan Watson, Deputy Director and Chief Development Officer, "is that their rents won't go up." This was proven to be untrue as my rent did increase over 100.00. Also the rent is now due by the 4th and not by the 5th as we have paid it for the last 5-6 years. They will also add 100.00 if not paid by the 4th. We are so disappointed in this and as soon as our lease is up we are moving. We are a middle class couple and the rent is now so high that we are barely making it as we also pay for water sewer and garbage,which we always have. But on top of other bills this has gotten to be just too much for us. The grounds are lovely but the other problem here is garbage being dumped next to the dumpster and not in it or the dumpster and recycling bins are over flowing so crows, squirrels and other vermin spread it around. I have noticed less dog dropping around. Not hard to pick it up as there are dog poop bags around the property. But all in all I feel that the whole sale was almost underhanded as it was so hush hush

DKH August 1, 2018 at 9:06 PM  

Anonymous on July 25, 2018: I sent your comments to Dan Watson and I understand that you have talked to him about your concerns, some of which are current and some which relate to previous situations. Because you pointed it out, the grace period for rent (which is due on the 1st) will go back to 5 days, and missing lids will be replaced on garbage bins. Do you still have questions?

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