Tower East of Escala Delayed Again- Interview with Developer Giving More Details

1933 5th Ave Rendering 4This story has been updated after a recent email interview with a representative of the developer, Douglaston Development:

According to the PSBJ, a new ruling by Seattle's hearing examiner will further delay construction on the 48 story tower planned just east of Escala Condominiums, where Icon Grill was located, at 5th Avenue and Virginia Street.

The residents of Escala have appealed the construction of the tower as it is currently planned, specifically taking aim at the tower being as close as 22 feet away across the alley, which would devastatingly affect their natural light and privacy. The city's examiner agreed with the Escala residents on that point pushing the issue to the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections to research, but ruled in the Developer, Douglaston Development's, favor on almost all of the other issues at the hearing.

Douglaston is now working on what options they have with regards to modifying the tower to address the issues raised by the Escala residents.

According to Douglaston CEO Michael Kaye, “During the design review process, we made major modifications to the design of the project to address the issues raised by Escala.”

Escala residents do have the option to appeal the city examiner's rulings against them to King County's Superior Court but they have not yet decided if they will proceed with any appeals.

It seems as if this ruling will delay the construction but not put a stop to it, so hopefully Escala's concerns can convince the Developer to redesign the new apartment and hotel tower to be set back farther from the alley and Escala preserving as much natural light and privacy as they can.

However, according to the developer speaking on the ruling , they indicate " the remand is actually on the procedural issue – not substantive", according to Kaye. "There is no reference in the remand regarding the distance between the two buildings."

Kaye would like to “reiterate Douglaston’s gratification that the Hearing Examiner ruled in our favor on almost every issue. Escala’s appeal was rejected on 22 out of the 23 claims made. Lastly, we’re committed to the project and we’ll keep working on it until it is built — we will continue to work through the process.” 

It will be interesting to see the outcome here as many condominium buildings in Seattle face this same or similar problem of loosing light and privacy due to a new larger and taller tower being constructed around them.

Updated 5/15/2018 By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle downtown condos.
Rendering courtesy of Perkins+Will

New Towers at 1916 Boren Ave in Denny Triangle

1916 Boren - rendering courtesy of GenslerSoon, at 1916 Boren Ave, a two tower project will rise comprising of a hotel and residential units. The developer, GZI out of China, has not yet revealed if the residential portion of the project will be apartments or condos.

The project, designed by Gensler Architects, will have two towers out of one podium, one tower at 16 stories and one at 48 stories. The podium will have retail on the ground level with 9 levels of hotel above to include approximately 280 hotel rooms. In the smaller tower will rise 6 stories of residential over the hotel and then in the taller tower will be 38 stories of residential over the hotel, to include around 500 units. There will also be two amenity levels, to include a gym and a podium-top roof deck, and underground parking. The taller tower will twist by stepping out from the base over the shorter tower and then stepping back in on the opposite side of the tower at the top, changing the massing as it goes up. This design is intended to compliment the twisting cubes of the NEXUS condominium tower nearby and add interest to the skyline.

At this point, we will have to wait to see whether or not we will have more apartments entering the pipeline or more condominiums for sale with the addition of this new project.

Rendering courtesy of Gensler.

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle downtown condos.




Update on Sonata Condominiums in Columbia City

Sonata 2Sonata, the new construction condominium project in Columbia City, is coming soon and they have released more information and floorplans for the project.


  • 96 units
  • Live/work lofts, studio, urban one bedroom, one bedroom, one bedroom + den, and two bedrooms
  • Sized from below 400 square feet to more than 1,000 square feet
  • Priced from $300,000 to $800,000+
  • Clean, contemporary design
  • Emphasis on space efficiency and high functionality
  • Oversized windows and soaring ceilings
  • Hardwood floors, modern kitchens with stainless steel appliances and quartz counters, and spacious, spa-like baths
  • Host of color palette and customization options
  • Amenities: numerous outdoor gardens, a roof deck with outdoor fireplaces and BBQs, a large co-working space that will share the ground floor with an eclectic mix of retail and dining options, bicycle room and underground parking
  • Blocks from amenities, restaurants, cafes and services of Columbia City and across the street from the Link Light Rail station (15 minutes to Downtown!)
  • Occupancy in 2019


  • Prospective buyers will be able to reserve a home in advance of presales by putting down a fully-refundable $5,000 deposit held in escrow confirming a particular home with a set price range, and will be granted a first right of opportunity to enter into a presale just as soon as the developer is able to confirm the product offering
  • The reservation event is now scheduled to take place in June—exact date TBD

Looking forward to the reservation event!

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle downtown condos.

Hendon Condos in Phinney Ridge are on the Market

Hendon Condominiums, the new construction condominium building in Phinney Ridge, has released a smattering of their available units for sale. They will be releasing all remaining units in phases.

This is a great opportunity to purchase a condominium with no offer review date and potentially no competition and get into a newly constructed condo in a great north Seattle neighborhood.

20180413_131008Here is a price list of the condos available for purchase in this phased release:

  • #102: 569 sf studio $499,000 (no parking)
  • #103: 569 sf studio $485,000 (no parking)
  • #208: 815 sf 1 bed 1.5 bath $609,900
  • #209: 738 sf 1 bed $579,900
  • #210: 897 sf 1 bed + den 1.5 bath $629,950
  • #304: 705 sf 1 bed $550,000 (no parking)
  • #310: 897 sf 1 bed + den 1.5 bath $639,000
  • #406: 815 sf 1 bed $749,000 with private rooftop deck (and it is really a large space!)

Other details to note:

  • 6 of 32 units are unparked - all 4 of the studios on floor 1 along with two of the 1 bedrooms have no parking
  • All 32 units have storage
  • Common roof deck with views of Green Lake
  • 1st floor studios have private patios
  • 4th floor units have private roof decks and some also have decks off of the living space  as well
  • Units have mini-split heating and air conditioning
  • Sales are going straight to Purchase and Sale and require 5 % earnest money, however their Public Offering Statement (POS) is not recorded so they are estimating that they will have closings 60 days after the POS is ready for buyer review
  • They are not accepting investor purchasers at this time

20180413_131148 20180413_131519 20180413_131133 20180413_131751 20180413_131818 20180413_131426

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to 
Seattle downtown condos.

Massive Redevelopment of Northgate Mall Bringing New Services & Vibrancy to this North Seattle Neighborhood

Northgate 2According to a recent PSBJ article, the owners of Northgate mall will be taking on a major overhaul of the property to include reducing the retail space and adding in its place office space, residential units, restaurants and a hotel. This is exciting as this north Seattle neighborhood has started to become known for its aging mall (though it does have my wife’s favorite shoe store, DSW!) and the big box stores of Target and Best Buy across the street.  This image and the mall itself will be getting a substantial face lift. No, let’s call it a complete makeover!

The new mall will have the ground floor areas remaining as retail and restaurants while above that would be a mix of hotel, multifamily residential, and office space. They are also talking about adding green space that the neighborhood can enjoy and benefit from!

While this topic might not seem important to a condominium blog, we disagree. Northgate is going through a bit of a renaissance. With the new light rail station coming soon, able to whisk people into Downtown in 14 minutes, we believe the neighborhood will soon be booming when it comes to real estate popularity. Now add to that the redevelopment of the Northgate mall to include more neighborhood amenities, we think Northgate will be the next up and coming neighborhood in Seattle that will experience higher than average appreciation.

Hopefully the residential portion of the Northgate mall redevelopment will include at least some condominiums to help with the extreme shortage of newer condominiums in our city.  While this is not yet known, we’ll cross our fingers that the developers are able to deliver some pre-sale condo opportunities.  What we hear most from buyers is that they want to be close to amenities with an easy and short commute into Downtown and South Lake Union, so it seems like a great opportunity for that. Of course, not all people work Downtown or near a light rail stop, but for those that do, the light rail is a real benefit and directly affects real estate demand. Look at how much Columbia City and Hillman City have boomed since the light rail went in on the south end of the city.  With the addition of restaurants, cafes and a more modern retail, this neighborhood will have tons to walk to. If your job relocates to the new office space there, you will be even better off.

Amenities and transit, coming soon to Northgate. And hopefully, condos.

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle downtown condos.

Elev8 Project in Bellevue Has Been Sold

MZA Rendering3According to a recent PSBJ article, "Stanford Hotels has acquired a controlling interest in the four-skyscraper Elev8 project, paying Plus Investment Inc. $128 million for the 4.6-acre property". The site is located at NE 8th St between 108th and 110th.

Plus Investment's original plan was to build two 40-story towers in the first phase, one would be 351 luxury condominiums for sale and one would be 448 apartments for rent with retail at the base of both. Then in a second phase, a 3rd residential tower and an office building would round out Bellevue's largest high-rise development.

Since the original plan, the city has rezoned this area and now towers can rise up to 600 feet tall. Stanford has confirmed that the project will now have office space, residential and hospitality (hotel) uses and that they will consider the new zoning when redesigning the project.

As of now, pre-sales are anticipated to start in fall of 2019.

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle downtown condos.

How Are My Property Taxes Determined?

How are my property taxes determined? They should be 1% of current market value, correct?

Well, no not really.  Last week, I covered why property taxes are estimated for new construction condos, this week I want to dig deeper into how your property taxes are determined, especially in light of the recent news about the upcoming Local Improvement District (LID) tax that will be used to help fund the new waterfront revitalization in Seattle.

Taxes10First a Couple of Myths:

  1. Aren’t my property taxes supposed to be 1% of current market value? No, this is a common misconception. While there is state legislation that caps the regular combined property taxes at 1% of your property's assessed value, this cap does not include voter approved special levies such as those for schools, or local improvement district (LID) taxes. So, your property tax bill could be more than 1% of your assessed value, or it could be less.    
  2. Current market value and tax assessed value should be the same amount. Not true. Your tax assessed value is determined by the county assessor’s office. The current market value of a property is just that, what the buying market is willing to pay for your property.  This can change from month to month in any given year based on the market activity and recent sales in that area. While it’s true that the market value of your home may influence whether your taxes go up or go down over time, your tax assessed value will remain the same for the year of the current assessment, until the assessor reassesses it for your next year’s tax bill. 

Now that we have that out of the way, where does the actual tax amount come from, you might wonder?

Well, it’s based on the specific tax district that your property is within, and what the specific levy rate is for that district.  And it’s assessed per $1,000 of assessed value. In the city of Seattle’s case, most of the city falls under levy code 0010 which for 2018 is $9.56207 per $1,000 of tax assessed value. However, there are 8 taxing districts within Seattle so it does depend where the property is located within the city.   

But to keep it simple, here is an example. Say you own a condo up on Queen Anne that has a tax assessed value of $500,000 for 2018.  The levy code for this area is 0010, which like most areas of Seattle is $9.56207 per $1,000 of assessed value. So, in this example, the annual total property tax would be $4,781 assuming there are no other special assessments or LID taxes for the tax district.  Further, let’s assume the condo was recently on market and sold for $650,000 after multiple offers.  In this example, even though the “market value” of the condo is $650,000, which was verified by the buyer’s lender’s appraiser when it sold, the tax owed is still based off the last tax assessed value of $500,000 and will remain that way until the tax assessor reassesses the property value.

For more information on tax levy rates, and the specific levy codes for Seattle,  you can visit the King County Tax Assessors website at

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle downtown condos.

Client Question: "Why When Buying New Construction Condos are my Property Taxes Estimated?"

Client Question: "Why When Buying New Construction Condos are my Property Taxes Estimated?"

Tax9Dear Why Are My Taxes Estimated,

If you are buying a new construction condo, such as our clients who just purchased at the recently completed Gridiron condominiums, the exact amount of your annual property taxes will not yet be known and an estimated amount will be used.

This is because the county tax assessor’s office takes some time after a condo building is completed to separate the one tax parcel, for the lot the building was built on, into individual condo units with individually assigned property values and tax assessed amounts based on those values.  Because of this, there will only be an estimate at the time of closing that will be used by the buyer’s lender and/or escrow company to pay those estimated property taxes upon closing. How much do they estimate you might ask? Well, it does depend on the lender, but it’s fairly common that they will use an amount equal to 1% of the purchase price as the estimated amount for the year. Then, at closing, they will pro-rate that amount to pay the taxes to the county and take an additional 3-6 month’s worth of the estimated taxes (called impounds) to fund your mortgage’s escrow account so your lender can pay the taxes on your behalf when they come due again.

So for example, if you are buying a $700,000 condo unit, the estimated annual property tax bill will be $7,000. This amount will be pro-rated to reflect the time you owned the condo during the current tax bill period and used to pay your taxes current with the county.

Once the county tax assessor's office separates the tax parcel, they will update your property tax account to reflect the actual tax amount and then your mortgage company, who pays your property taxes on your behalf, will adjust the amount that is owed and will send the property owner a notice. If you have over paid based on the estimated tax amount, then your account will show a credit and if you have underpaid (which is likely not the case) then they would adjust the account and send a bill for the difference.

Next week, more on how the property tax amount you owe is actually determined.

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle downtown condos.

Gridiron Condominiums Update - Remaining Units & Our Thoughts

Gridiron, the new construction condominium in Pioneer Square, has received it's certificate of occupancy and has started closing homes. Now that the building is mostly complete, we were able to walk through, tour the building and amenities, learn about the remaining available units and enjoy the actual views and finishes in person.

We summarized the basics and also added in some additional information along with our opinions. Additional photos are also below.

20180308_134000THE BASICS:

  • 27 condo units left available
    • 7 are 2 bedrooms and the rest are open one or one bedroom homes
  • Remaining open 1 bedrooms
    • 620 to 819 square feet
    • Priced from $606,900 to $786,900
    • HOA dues from $447 to $591
  • Remaining 1 bedrooms
    • 771 to 855 square feet
    • Priced from $721,900 to $811,900
    • HOA dues from $557 to $616
  • Remaining 2 bedrooms
    • 983 to 1,034 square feet
    • Prices from $881,900 to $1,056,900
    • HOA dues from $708 to $745
  • Parking: NOT included with any home; one space is available for purchase for an additional $50,000 for homes priced above $671,900
  • Storage: No storage units are remaining
  • HOA dues: calculated at around $.70/sqft; include garbage, gas, earthquake insurance, concierge and building maintenance
  • Amenities: rooftop deck with BBQs and seating areas, party room with kitchen, wine storage lockers, gym, dog run, concierge

Continue reading "Gridiron Condominiums Update - Remaining Units & Our Thoughts" »

Koda is 95% Reserved & One88 70% Sold

20180224_110105After the reservation event for Koda Condominium Flats in the International District, 95% of the 203 units have first position reservations and deposits in place and an additional 80 have second and third position reservations as well.  There was a large turnout for the event (photo) and, as usual, the more affordable units sold first.

As for One88, Bosa's new construction building in Bellevue, they have announced that they sold over 100 out of 143 units (70%) in their private sales events. Opening this weekend on Saturday 3/10 to the public, there is not a whole lot of inventory left to choose from and none under $2M. One88 did not take reservations, they went straight to purchase contracts.

Based on this data, there is high demand for new construction condominium inventory in Seattle and Bellevue. Perhaps this type of response to these condominium building offerings will encourage more developers to build condo instead of apartment in the next cycle or for those developers who already have building permits in place and have not yet decided what type of product to build, rent or own, perhaps this information might lead them to build condominium product and help release the log jam of buyers looking to buy condominiums in our regions biggest cities.

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle downtown condos.