Seattle high-rise found unsafe; hundreds ordered out

Seattle high-rise found unsafe; hundreds ordered out »Play Video
The 9-year-old McGuire Apartments high-rise is unsafe for occupancy and will soon be torn down.
SEATTLE - A nine-year-old high-rise near downtown Seattle with hundreds of residents and dozens of retailers will soon be nothing but a hole in the city's skyline.

The 25-floor McGuire Apartment building at Second Avenue and Wall Street - built in 2001 - already has to come down because it soon will be declared unsafe for occupancy by the city.

The building's occupants were told in last-minute meetings on Saturday that the building will have to be torn down - and the residents need to be out as soon as possible.

KOMO News has learned that the issue involves cables, concrete and corrosion that have become so costly to repair that it would be cheaper for the owner to tear down the building than to fix it.

Engineers have told the owners the building must be vacated by the end of the year - but residents are being asked to get out as soon as possible.

And that's not sitting well with residents of the apartment building.

"It is very frustrating. This is the first I've heard about it," said resident Kris Melby.

Matthew Eckstein, who just moved in three weeks ago, now is being told to move out. He said he was told the building is "not structurally sound."

"I felt pretty betrayed, actually, because I just moved in and I would've liked some warning," he said.

Another resident, Steve Wiley, expressed the sentiments of many of the building's occupants after Saturday's surprise meeting. "How could something like this happen to such a big structure in downtown Seattle?" he said.

Retailers on the building's ground floor also were stunned.

"There was no warning," says first-floor salon owner Quint Eby, who sunk his life savings into his business.

He was told to be out in 60 days or less.

"I was really saddened by this because I've worked so hard for this to be a success," he says.

The order to vacate actually came as some new occupants were still moving in to apartment units in the building. But the building's owner says everything must come out.

In a statement, the owner says there are "extensive construction defects which are financially impractical to repair."

The problem involves cables that have corroded so badly that the structure will be declared unsafe by the city later this year.

"I'm upset at the fact that a building like this can be built and within eight years have to come down because they say it's structurally unsound," says Wiley.

Residents were given a form at Saturday's meeting, showing the incentives they will be given to get out by the end of the year - including three times their monthly rent if they move out by May 15.

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• Watch interviews with displaced McGuire Apartments residents »

• Read a press release with more information about the specific problems »