Thirt-nine out of the total seventy-nine Hjarta homes are sold with buyers moving in since last month. After touring the building with Sam Ward, the sales manger, I felt like I was given a crash course in green building features. The condo is seeking LEED Silver Certification. When asked about the higher price per square foot for this building versus other new construction projects in the neighborhood, Sam pointed out that the average price for LEED certified building is 4.8% higher than non-LEED certified building. In return, you get better air quality, efficient use of energy and long term cost savings for the homeowner association.
Here are some green features in the building:
- Decorative materials in the lobby entrance-recycled glass from Bedrock (a local company)
- Cork floorings in the amenity areas
- Concrete walls in the hall ways which require minimal upkeep
- Recycled glass back splashes in the kitchens
- Low volatile organic compound level in carpets, paints, sealants and adhesive - which also produces better air quality
- Recyclable content tile floors in the bathrooms
- High performance windows which reduce vibration from street noise and heat transfer
- Carpet square floors in the bedroom which use nylon and recycled content and can be replaced more easily when there is stain
- Drought tolerant landscaping
- Electrical car parking in the garage
You don't see a lot of granite materials except for the fireplace and even those pieces are excess granite from other developers.
When asked about the top three reasons why this building is appealing to home buyers, Sam responded that "the concrete and steel construction, location, and green features appeal to our buyers. You don't hear water running down the pipe, your neighbor doing their laundry or the TV blasting next door. Hjarta is also nicely located near Ballard's gateway (15th Ave NW and Market St). The green features will also allow the homeowner association to charge lower dues as well." For a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom unit (1,050 square feet), the homeowner dues are $321/month.
The developer is also committing to conduct inspections on the building once a year for the next 4 years - not sure if that will necessarily translate into actual dispute-free repairs but it's a fairly unusual committment for new construction projects.
Overall, this project looks well built and has pretty good sound insulation. Being the first concrete and steel and green building in Ballard, you will be paying a higher price per square foot; in return you get a more solid building and lower dues. It should be noted that the Hjarta prices are actually comparable to Belltown prices. My initial expectation was that it would be at a discount to Belltown and downtown.
Perhaps the scarcer supply of new concrete and steel buildings in Ballard justifies the pricing. If you're bullish on Ballard, the Belltown pricing may not be that big of an issue in the long-term. If you're considering Hjarta because you find Belltown to be too pricey, you may be disappointed.
Hjarta will be having a kick off event to show case their penthouse units on June 21st. The developer is also providing $6,500 (one bedrooms) and $10,000 (two bedrooms) towards buyers' closing costs. On top of that, home buyers will also get a Vespa. Normally, I find giveaways a bit gimmicky but I have to admit the free Vespa is kinda cool.