Vacant buildings have become a familiar part of the Seattle landscape in the last few years. These structures can devastate the neighborhood, undermine quality of life, and diminish property values. Trespassing, vandalism, and other criminal activities occur with some frequency. Fires, such as the one that burnt the former Seven Gables Theater, are all too common.
SDCI manages a Vacant Building Monitoring program that inspects many vacant properties and notifies owners if we find problems. The program charges a fee for inspections and can bring City workers to a site to do clean ups or close a building that is open to entry (fees apply). SDCI tries to work with property owners and allow them to do the work themselves rather than incur fees for City work.
We’ve found that the best way to keep vacant buildings from becoming problems is to keep the buildings from becoming vacant in the first place. SDCI staff in the Property and Tenant Assistance group can help developers understand their options for keeping tenants in structures while the development is in a permit review process. In addition, non-profit organizations can offer options for bringing live-in caretakers onto a site. Depending on which zone the structure is in, pop-up commercial uses such as art galleries or small retail shops might be possible.
Learn more about the Vacant Building Monitoring program and options for keeping buildings in use by reviewing our Vacant Buildings webpage or downloading our Vacant Building Monitoring Program and Vacant Building Options flyers.