Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mountain View condo conversion is no more

Looks like the wave of condominium conversion or condo conversion is over in Bay Area. One of the examples was a plan to repalce the 64-unit apartment complex at 291 Evandale Ave in Mountain View with a 144-unit structure, featuring homes that were expected to sell for $500,000 each, but the house market crash stopped the plan.

Apparently unable to get a bank loan, the owner of an aging apartment building at 291 Evandale Ave. has given up on a plan to demolish the structure and build 144 condos. Instead, he wants to rent the apartments out again, and quick.

It's a bit of a problem for city staff, who say the buildings are probably unsafe, and for neighbors, who say the apartments are an eyesore. To top it off, the city spent $125,000 to relocate 250 people from the 64-unit apartment complex last year.

The apartments were some of the cheapest in the city, with monthly rents ranging from $900 to $1,200 for two- and three-bedroom units. But there were reasons why the rents were cheap and neighbors wanted it redeveloped: The courtyards were littered with trash, the carport roofs were sagging, code violations were apparent and the buildings would likely be unsafe in an earthquake, said city attorney Michael Martello.

"Part of the reason we approved the project was because the existing one was so dilapidated," Martello said.

Now the owner is making an "end run" to quickly rent out the building, Martello said, adding that he has tried to work on the buildings without the necessary permits, even after the city explained what permits were required. The city issued a stop work order so the buildings could be inspected.

"We're not going to let people go back in there just so they can get a revenue stream," Martello said. "The minimum concern is safety."

The owner's representative, architect Salvatore Caruso, did not return phone calls from the Voice.

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