Apartment building owners appeal imminent light-rail station construction, seek stricter noise constraints

University Manor Apartments

University Manor Apartments -

The University Manor Apartments have filed two appeals to classify themselves as residentual buildings, leading to stricter noise constraints on the new Sound Transit light-rail station.

Photo by Elliot Suhr

U-District residents are no strangers to construction and demolition.

Still, Carl Schaber and Gene Casal, owners of University Manor Apartments, are concerned about the impact the nearby construction of the new Sound Transit light-rail station will have on their almost 140 residents.

University Manor, located on Brooklyn Avenue Northeast and Northeast 43rd Street, is on the southeast corner of the future construction site of the station. Demolition will begin in April.

Schaber and Casal filed two appeals in December and are currently awaiting a decision that will come at a Feb. 6 hearing. Property manager Christine Christensen said that Schaber and Casal filed the appeals to ensure Sound Transit will accommodate University Manor residents when determining appropriate levels of noise caused by demolition and construction. 

“Our goal is to mitigate the impact that the ongoing construction will have on our tenants, our neighbors, and the building,” Christensen said. 

University Manor is a 90-year-old building, home to students as well as older tenants.

The appeals seek to classify University Manor as a residential building, which would lead to stricter noise constraints. Currently, University Manor is in a commercial zone. The appeals also address concerns that fumes from the site could impact the health of residents and that the construction site could make the streets noisier and less safe at night. 

Bruce Gray, spokesman for Sound Transit, said the company has a lot of experience working in neighborhoods similar to the U-District and they do all they can to accommodate the needs of the residents. 

“We’ve got a good track record of being a good neighbor,” Gray said.

Gray said Sound Transit is minimizing noise by putting up a 16-foot sound wall, banning the use of compression brakes, and covering generators to muffle noise. The company will also have a 24-hour hotline for concerns or complaints.

Christensen said residents at University Manor look forward to the end result: a light-rail station, scheduled to open in 2021, that can get people downtown in approximately 10 minutes. She said residents should see the demolition and construction that will take place across the street from the building as a necessary evil; the appeal simply seeks to protect University Manor and its residents. 

University Manor resident Adam Sherman, a law student at the UW, said that the process of completing the station has been a nuisance. 

“I seriously considered moving locations,” said Sherman, who has lived in University Manor for more than four years. 

He described sleepless nights listening to people on the streets whose volume increased under the cover of the boarded-up buildings that will soon face demolition. He said the noise affected his study and work habits, and he believes that nighttime construction could do the same. 

“I’m really worried about students in that building being able to focus on their education and to function on a normal basis,” Sherman said.

Sherman also expressed concern for the owners of the building. He believes residents and property owners should be compensated in some way for the inconveniences they face, or at least ensured that construction will not change the way they live their lives. 

“Long-term, I think it’s a very good thing,” he said. “But I’m very concerned for the short-term.”

Reach reporter Amy Busch at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @amybusch2

Please read our Comment policy.