A Seattle developer’s proposal to build affordable housing in a massive new hotel-and-retail complex carries an ironic twist: The project would require demolishing the Bonair Apartments, possibly as early as next spring.

Some residents of the 48-unit brick building on the block’s southwest corner have lived there for 20 years. Back then, the Bonair was a rent-controlled property for the working poor.

The 1909 masonry building was rehabilitated in 1989 by a developer who received tax-credit financing. In exchange for the subsidy, 30 apartments had rents capped at up to 60 percent of median income, state records show. Rent control ended in 2005.

Rents have stayed affordable, said Jennifer Weitman, an English teacher in the Highline School District and the apartments’ resident manager.

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For a studio, monthly rents range from $650 to $850 and a one-bedroom, $795 to $925.

Residents face sticker shock when they are forced to vacate next spring:

In September, the average market rent downtown was $1,158 for studios and $1,697 for one-bedroom apartments, according to Dupre+Scott, a leading apartment-research firm. About 70 percent of apartments in the firm’s survey said they planned to raise the rent next spring by an average 3.9 percent.

“People are distraught and don’t know where they’re going to go,” Weitman said. “Some of the tenants’ rents are going to literally double.”

A city spokesman said that low-income residents displaced by the demolition are eligible for relocation assistance of about $3,000, half paid by the property owner and half by the city.

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or sbhatt@seattletimes.com On Twitter @sbhatt