The South Perry district in Spokane’s East Central neighborhood continues its ascent with the opening of high-end apartments that its developers promise to be among the “most luxurious” in town.
The Scott Residences, at 712 S. Scott St., is a cubist, three-story complex on a rocky outcropping within walking distance of the shops and restaurants on South Perry. The two-bedroom apartments are 1,050 square feet with monthly rents that range from $1,400 to $1,650 a month. Each unit has a garage and a dedicated parking space.
Jordan Samiee, a Portland-based real estate broker, developed the apartments with his business partner, Wayne Sabbak, who lives in Spokane. Samiee said Spokane needs such high-end apartments, even if the rent seems high for the neighborhood.
“We think that South Perry is a great place to live,” Samiee said. “We didn’t really price for that neighborhood. We priced it for all of Spokane.”
According to the Zillow Rent Index, the median monthly rent in Spokane is $972 for a two-bedroom apartment, the highest its been since Zillow began tracking rental data and more than $200 more than five years ago.
Zillow does not have neighborhood-level data for apartments in Spokane, but the median rent for all homes is $1,136.
Mike McBride, a business analyst with the Spokane Area Workforce Development Council, said he was unaware of the Scott Residences project, but noted the rent “seems a little pricy, although living in a brand-new apartment does have higher rental costs than an older building.”
“Perry District is up and coming and hip, but by no means fully ‘gentrified’ enough to charge these rates IMHO,” McBride said in an email. “I would expect these rates in maybe a nice Kendall Yards build or along Riverside in a high end building, like Riverfalls Tower.”
But with half of the units already leased ahead of the Aug. 1 move-in date, Samiee said he expects the others to go quickly.
Samiee credits Sabbak with the idea to build in Spokane. Sabbak moved to town with his girlfriend and found a tight renter’s market. Sabbak, who could not be reached for comment, owns multiple buildings in Portland, including a historic building on Belmont Street near the popular Southeast 34th Avenue intersection.
“Wayne was looking for a place but he couldn’t find anything that was really nice and available,” Samiee said. “We thought we’d appeal to that market.”
Spokane County’s average vacancy rate for two-bedroom apartments was 1.7 percent last fall, the most recent statistics collected by Eastern Washington University’s Community Indicators. Five years ago, that rate stood at 5 percent in Spokane.
Patrick Jones, who oversees the site collecting community data, said the county’s growing population and falling home ownership has thrown the rental market out of balance.
“There’s obviously a very tight market. Prices adjust when there’s that much demand,” said Jones.
Jones said he expected vacancy rates to keep falling, prices to keep rising and the struggles to continue for renters.
“The phenomenon we’re looking at in Spokane is not unique,” Jones said. “Seattle, of course, is off the charts. Even if you look at communities like Wenatchee or Tri-Cities, there are similar challenges in the rental markets.”
“Spokane remains relatively affordable compared to the bigger urban cities on the coast,” McBride said. “But it is a major problem across the country that wage growth is not occurring at a rate that one would expect with such a tight labor market, and more and more of people’s incomes are going towards rent payments each month.”
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