The Viewpointe (2450 Aurora Ave. N.) on Queen Anne has been a retirement home for seniors, with senior-focused amenities, for 26 years. In April, the owner retired and transferred ownership. Prior to this change, the building opened up to residents of all ages and terminated senior-focused services. For some of the seniors, these services were things they relied on, so they felt forced to relocate.
The building’s previous owner, Jim Lampman, discontinued the services prior to transferring ownership on April 30, according to a representative from Timberlane Partners, the new owners. The housekeeping and meal services were to remain through July 1, to “help ease this transition.”
Apartment Management Consultants (AMC) is the new property manager. The building is now an all-ages, market-rate apartment building.
Losing to competition
The building had about 90 senior-age residents, and of those, approximately 35 were planning to move out, according to a staff person at the facility.
“Over the last few years, Viewpointe experienced decreasing demand for independent retirement-apartment communities that offer limited services,” Lampman said in an email. The management company’s attempts to be competitive were often lost to corporate chains that offered full services, while the independent senior-apartment market was “shrinking.”
The Viewpointe was not a licensed assisted-living facility, so it was not able to compete with the larger corporate providers, Lampman wrote.
Because The Viewpointe wasn’t licensed, the residents there aren’t subject to state oversight protections, according to Michael Taylor-Judd of the Seattle Human Services Department.
There are plans to make “modest renovations” to the patio, common areas and individual rooms. Since the dining room will no longer be used to serve seniors’ meals, it will become a fitness room. Those renovations began in May, with activity ramping up in July, according to a representative from Timberlane Partners.
When AMC took over, there were 22 staff members at The Viewpointe; all of them were offered new employment offers and retention bonuses, the representative said.
Advance written notice was sent before an in-person meeting on April 16, where Lampman announced the plan to terminate services.
“A large group of senior residents was renting apartments without services, so they would not be affected,” Lampman wrote. “To the residents who were taking services, Viewpointe provided contacts for at least five other retirement apartments in the area that did provide services. No one was asked to leave, and no leases were terminated.”
‘Hardship’ for residents
Gillette Paige, 92, moved into The Viewpointe on April 1, with the expectation that the building she was moving into would be senior-focused living, she said. Paige had been looking into The Viewpointe for about five months before she moved, and those services, primarily the activities, were a draw for her.
“It was represented as a retirement home — even the bus had ‘retirement facility’ [on the side],” she said. “I am disappointed by the way the thing is [happening], the way it was represented to me. I came here with the vision of what was described, and then overnight, it’s [not]. Yeah, it’s not the easiest pill to swallow.”
Paige is on a one-year lease and does plan to fight at least her rent cost because the services are no longer available. She doesn’t want to move though, because she is finally settled in.
She said she feels bad for the other residents: “They thought they were settled and they were going to live here and die here and everything is changed, and they have to take a chance on another place, and somehow it doesn’t seem fair. But business is business.”
AMC is meeting with residents like Paige, who signed leases on April 1 to give them to option to vacate their lease, the representative said.
Ruth Loft, 87, has lived in The Viewpointe for one year. At the end of May, she moved to a new place in Columbia City because of the changes made by Viewpoint’s management. She doesn’t use the food services, but she does rely on transportation to get her to the grocery store.
“Not being able to go to the market, I could have never remained here without that,” she said. “How would I get around?”
The Viewpointe is along a King County Metro bus route, but because there are no crosswalks on Aurora Avenue at that point, people need to climb down a set of stairs, use a pedestrian overpass and climb up another set of stairs to get home.
The Viewpointe ended transportation services in May.
“The previous owner chose not to provide us access to the transportation vans, so we couldn’t continue transitional service through July 1 as we’d hoped,” the representative from Timberlane Partners said in an email.
Pauline Bernard, 91, has lived at The Viewpointe for four years. She relied on such services as transportation, food and activities. “It’s a hardship,” Bernard said, adding she was lucky to have her two daughters, who helped her move May 1.
“It was a big surprise, and [Lampman] knew this was happening and he didn’t let us know,” she said.
The cost to move and the stress of the situation has been difficult on Bernard, her daughter Joyce Major said. Bernard told her one night she couldn’t sleep because she was trying to figure out what to do with all of her furniture.
The new owners are sympathetic to the seniors’ situations, they said, saying the previous owner made the decision to cut services.
“We welcome any and all residents who wish to stay,” the representative said.
In April, The Viewpointe invited some local retirement homes to talk to its residents; Bryant Cornelius from The Stratford at Maple Leaf was one of them.
So far, about 14 residents from The Viewpointe have moved to the Stratford. The Stratford offered to move the residents for free and waive the one-time community-activities fee.
“That way it would be an easy transition,” Cornelius said. “A lot of times, moving like that is not easy.”
Lampman wrote that The Viewpointe was sensitive to the situation, “which is why 75-day notice was given, and management from both WRM [the former management company] and AMC held events to provide options…, introducing providers to residents,” Lampman wrote.
Not everyone agrees that the situation has been handled sensitively.
“For old people, it’s so hard to give them such a short amount of time to plan,” Major said.
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