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Future of Savoy apartment building in Yakima still uncertain

Sept. 4, 2022 Updated Sun., Sept. 4, 2022 at 4:22 p.m.

Kate Smith Yakima Herald-Republic

YAKIMA - The Savoy Apartments building at 322 W. Yakima Ave. was boarded up Aug. 23, 2021, and — at least from the outside — looks much the same a year later. The main level entrances are covered by sheets of plywood; windows on the upper floors are boarded up, broken or wide open; and the concrete stairs that lead to a lower level are strewn with needles, lighters, foil and litter.

City spokesperson Randy Beehler said the owner of the building, Aaron Stewart, had a year to initiate repairs at the Savoy.

“Up to this point, there haven’t been any permits applied for to do the work there that needs to be done,” Beehler said in August.

He said the city is still evaluating what to do with the building. Staff members are reviewing options included in the International Property Maintenance Code, which sets minimum health and safety requirements for buildings and outlines how to address violations. It’s the same code used to address damaged and dangerous buildings throughout the city.

All options, whether the end result is repair or demolition, will involve the court, since the deadline to initiate repairs was not met, Beehler said.

Beehler said communication from the owner since the building was condemned has not been adequate.

“Whatever communication we’ve had has not been sufficient enough to get the process of repairing the building started,” he said. “We would have hoped by now we would have seen more progress.”

The Savoy property and another property owned by Stewart, the Senator Apartments at 31 N. Front St., are up for sale after a judgment in Yakima County Superior Court.

The sale has been postponed several times since March, according to a public notice of sale from the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office. The sale was most recently postponed to Sept. 16, but Bre Story with the Sheriff’s Office said the sale has to be completed or canceled by Sept. 21, and attorneys are seeking an extension.

The plaintiff in the sale, Seattle commercial real estate firm Kidder Mathews, is apparently interested in purchasing the property, according to the sale notice. Attorneys for the firm did not respond to a request for comment.

Prior to the Savoy building being condemned, the city received multiple reports of health and life safety deficiencies in the building. This prompted city inspectors to visit the building, where they found holes in walls between units, a nonfunctioning fire escape, broken windows and exterior doors that were not secure.

Former residents also described flood stains, rotted beams and mold from broken plumbing, overflowing toilets and insect infestations.

The building was condemned April 23, 2021, and the city contacted Stewart about the violations, but the deficiencies were not brought up to code.

Stewart has a history of violating city codes at the Savoy Apartments and other properties. The Senator building and the Cascade apartment building formerly owned by Stewart were both condemned under Stewart’s ownership. The Savoy was previously condemned after a fire in 2017.

Stewart did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

Contact Kate Smith at katesmith@yakimaherald.com.

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