Monday, November 2, 2009
The Moda's Hilarious and Hazardous Predicament
In this economic climate, the specter of repossession is all around us. People around the country are losing their houses, cars, furniture and various other belongings to repossession. It's a grim reality that impacts mostly individuals. But what happens when something larger than an individual doesn't pay its bills, say an apartment building? In this case, the same thing. It's just a question of how accessible any given item is for those wanting to take it back.
I received an email from tipster Chad on Friday. He detailed an outlandish story: he was walking by the Moda Apartments on 3rd, between Bell & Battery and saw some rather large men scaling the side of the building on tall ladders, apparently without the knowledge of Moda management. They proceeded to partially dismantle at least five of the building's balconies and throw them into their truck. When Chad asked the guys about it, they said that the Moda owed them $20,000 and they were repossessing the balconies due to lack of payment.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Who on earth repossesses balconies? Well, I walked past the Moda the next day and guess what? It's absolutely true.
Here are the pictures:
As you can see, pieces of several balconies have been removed. Chad also informed me that every one of these units is occupied. As funny as this situation is, it's also quite hazardous if any of those residents arrives home unaware of what has happened. Since I haven't heard of anybody accidentally falling to their death at the Moda over the weekend, I'm figuring that the management has things reasonably under control. Incidentally, I called and asked them about what's going on. They have no comment.
I have nothing against the 251-unit Moda. In fact, except for the corrugated or "shipping container" look (perhaps imported from Western Ave.), it's a welcome addition to the neighborhood. I mean, it replaced the derelict one-story former Pacific Publishing building, which wasn't doing anyone any good. And since last year, it's been a reasonably good neighbor. Oh, if you've been living in Belltown for a while and you need a good laugh, check out the Moda's "hip surroundings" page. It's hopelessly out of date. For example, were you aware that the Teatro Zinzanni is still at 5th & Bell? It's true! And, according to the map, you can still enjoy dinner at Nara at 5th & Lenora. Both of these have been gone for around two years. Teatro Zinzanni has moved to Mercer St. and Nara closed down.
From the time I spent temping at a real estate management company, I came to realize that most buildings operate in near-permanent debt. They generally owe months and months of bills for power, water and the like. Why, my own lovely, ancient building gets a water shut-off notice nailed to its front door around twice a year. But this strange event is a different animal; it's the economic downturn asserting itself in new and weird ways. I wish the Moda the best of luck getting its balconies back. And no, I don't consider them deadbeats. They merely failed to consider just how hungry their poor subcontractors were.
My thanks again to Chad for the tip.
Read more of Hideous Belltown!