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July 2006

Olive 8

Olive_8_1 If you like the hotel-condo combo concept, Seattle will soon have a wide variety available for you.  Olive Way and 8th Ave.  The higher priced Madison Tower on 1000 1st Ave was recently completed with some owners closing (and probably some reselling) their units this month.  There’s also the soon to be opened sales center for Second and Pine in central downtown priced similarly to Olive 8.  The king of all hotel/condo combos, Four Seasons, rolls in at a ceiling bursting price of $2,100/ square feet (see my previous post about Four Seasons here).  There’s no doubt that these new hotel/condo combos will enable cash flush downsizers, in-city retreat buyers, and other buyers of means to experience urban living with truly world-class amenities.

Of all hotel-condo combos, Olive 8 is probably the best value (Second and Pine may be similar but the details are thin about that project at the moment).  Olive 8 will have 350 hotel suites on the lower 17 levels and 198 condominiums units from the 18th to the 36th level. The hotel/condo is being co-designed by renowned New York architect, Gluckman Mayner and local architect MulvannyG2.

(Update: 10/05/2006- The developer has recently announced that they will be adding three condo floors to the project. Pending final city approval, the tower will be built to 455 feet and 39 stories bringing it to a total of 231 condominium units.)

All units come with a balcony and amenities include a lounge, game room, terrace with gas barbeques, and pet exercise/shower area. Just like any other hotel/condo combo, residences have the convenience of using the hotel services.  Having trouble imagining why you’d need any services in your condo?  Imagine this:

Olive 8 hotel services include:

• Hotel lobby with concierge, dining, lounge and bar

• Business center, dry cleaning, and room service

• Health club, spa and pool facilities

• Huge meeting rooms with event catering

For a reasonable monthly fee, residents get to enjoy their health club and spa facility, take a yoga class, swim in the lap pool, or pamper themselves with a manicure.

Prices (note, all units less than $950k are sold out)

Open one bedroom            665-682       Low $400’s to Mid $500’s

1 bedroom and 1 bath       685-814        Mid $400’s to Mid $600’s

1 bedroom and 1.5 bath    825-1072       Low $500’s to Mid $700’s

2 bedroom and 2 bath       1,339            Mid $800’s to $1M+

2 bedroom+den, 2 batth    1,538-1,586   Mid $900’s to 1 M+

Penthouse   1833-2552                         Not available

Continue reading "Olive 8" »

Condo appreciation in King County

The Seattle Times just published their annual home values review in King County. Here is some interesting data for condominiums. Since 2000, condominiums have outperformed single-family houses two out of five years in King County. And even when they haven't, their appreciation has been strong.

Income required for condos in Belltown is $81,728. Income required for Capitol Hill and Queen Anne, Fremont, and Ballard is around the same at $60,000’s. Check out the full article.

Neighborhood         Median price    Avg. price change    Avg. annual
                               2005             2004-2005           5 yr change

Belltown                   $359,990           23.2%                 6.1%

Downtown/First Hill    $324,900             6.4%                 3.6%

Lower Queen Anne     $299,975           16.5%                 6.0%         

Queen Anne             $293,000            12.4%                 7.8%

Lake Union                $300,750            1.4%                 5.5%

Capitol Hill/              $270,000           22.3%                 6.6%

Central District/         $232,000           23.9%                 6.9%

Source: Seattle Times


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Best ROI Poll Results

I posted this poll two weeks ago asking SCR readers which Seattle condo projects would get the best 3 year ROI.  The condo projects included were Cosmopolitan, The Martin, Mosler Lofts, Trio, Parc, Lumen, Enso, Rollin, Veer Lofts, and Escala. 161 votes came in and here are the results.

The majority of readers feel that Mosler Lofts will represent the condo that will get the best 3 year ROI followed by Lumen. (If you have the chance to drive along Mercer St, you will see Lumen construction are moving at very fast pace.)  Escala, a new condo that just had their preview event last Thursday, came in third. Trio, The Martin and Rollin came in at the bottom three.

Mosler Lofts        25.3%

Lumen                 16.9%

Escala                 12.7%

The Parc              9.6%

Veer Lofts            9.0%

Cosmopolitan      8.4%

Enso                    7.8%

The Martin           3.6%

Rollin                   3.6%

Trio                      3.0%

Thanks for participating in this poll.  I’ll have a new one on the right hand side of this blog every couple of weeks.


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Hjarta_3 Hjarta, which means “heart” in Icelandic, will be the tallest building in Ballard and hosted a preview event last weekend. This 79 unit mixed-use condo will be seeking LEED certification. There are two parts of the building: the south building will be condominium units and the north building’s use is currently not yet determined. There is a possibility of it becoming a rental apartment.

Amenities include a rooftop garden, kidSpace, club room, yoga room, and spin room.

Some green features include:

• water saving plumbing fixtures
• drought tolerant landscaping
• low volatile organic compounds carpets, paints, sealants and adhesive
• operable windows and ventilation systems
• conservation of natural resources with the use of renewable materials such as bamboo and cork flooring

Pryde + Johnson  is the developer for Hjarta and they currently have mixed used projects in place in Green Lake, Capitol Hill, Dexter Ave and Roosevelt neighborhoods.

Price range

One bedroom                                $309,000-$379,000

One bedroom with study alcove       $325,000-$389,000

Large one bedroom                        $359,000-$399,000

Two bedroom                               $479,000-$549,000

Most of their units come with a balcony. #01, #06 are two bedroom corner units. The floor plan has a very efficient layout with the two bedrooms separated by the living area. If you prefer a larger balcony, go with their #10.

Ballard is becoming a more and more popular neighborhood for home buyers. It has a relatively short commute to the city without the higher price tag you would have to pay for a closer neighborhood. If you are someone who is conscious about the environment and prefer a greener home, Hjarta is worth checking out.


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Questions for the Vulcans

Slu_1 I received lots of feedback from my own clients regarding the South Lake Union projects.  Below are some of the common questions that came up.  Since I thought the best person to answer them would be someone from the Sales Center, I asked Jon Hunter, Assistant Branch Manager from John L. Scott (Seattle Center) working with Vulcan to give us his two cents.  Here are the excerpts.  For the full interview, click here.

1.) Many home buyers feel that they need to jump through hoops before they can have the chance to purchase one of Vulcan’s projects. How do you respond to that?

“I would say that there are no more ‘hoops’ to jump through than if you were to purchase any other new construction project downtown. Everyone wants information, and the best vehicle in which to give people the information in a manner that is both interesting and informative was to host these information sessions……What we wanted to create was a fair and just system, and part of that system is that everyone plays on the same playing field. With that in mind, everyone must attend the information session in order to ascertain a lottery card…..”

2.) When do you think that home buyers will be able to get more specific pricing information?

“We should have pricing narrowed down in mid to late August… as we get closer to actual home selection day, we will continue to refine our pricing. We know this is a crucial part of the selection process, and therefore we are spending a majority of our time solidifying these numbers. However, we do have some factors that are not in our control, and we ask for just a bit of patience.”

3.) What do you say to homebuyers who are concerned about the traffic flow in South Lake Union?

“The traffic flow in South Lake Union will be great once we get a few things resolved and the Streetcar will certainly help. Everyone moving into the South Lake Union will love the street car… only because it’s absolutely perfect to get downtown, to the airport (with the light rail in 2009) and really connects the neighborhood to downtown.” 

4.) When is the Whole Foods market going to be opened?

“Whole Foods and the Pan Pacific Hotel are planned to open in the first weeks of October.  The construction is progressing nicely on both amenities.”

5.) What advice would you give to someone who is interested in Vulcan’s SLU project and trying to determine which one will be the best fit for them?

“Excellent question… This question is all about lifestyle. If I were a creative minded individual looking to find a place to express myself, I would probably be lured by Veer… 9’, 13’ and 16’ ceilings, open spaces, a rooftop BOCCE BALL….., not to mention the finishes being hip and urban…  just a block off the streetcar line and only three blocks to Lake Union, concrete floors, exposed wood ceilings, expansive glass, large decks, some units with pocket Zen gardens.”

“If I were looking for space, wide open spaces (average space is 1100 sq/ft), minimal walls, open loft living - like in NYC, with air conditioning, heat pumps with AC, two rooftop decks, and a guest suite… I would be interested in Rollin .”

“If I were looking for a sleek, modern, architecturally stunning building where sophistication wreaks havoc… well, I would be leaning towards Enso. Enso, which is a perfect circle in calligraphy and means balance and enlightenment, is the perfect place for someone who loves everything that an urban home can offer.”

6.)  Is there anything else that you would want to share with the SCR readers?

I would say to your readers that we are extremely excited at offering these projects to the public. We are so excited we can’t help but want to stand on top of the Space Needle and tell everyone about them! The next best thing would be to hire the contractor who built the space needle and have them work on one of our projects… so we did that as well!

“No detail is overlooked in these condos… Please, if you are at all interested in purchasing a condominium over the next few years, please stop by our presentation showroom located at 101 Westlake Avenue North, kitty corner to the new Whole Foods and let us share with you why we are so proud to be a part of these projects!”


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Fifteen Twenty One, not just another number

1521There is definitely no shortage of inventory for luxury condos, ultra premier condo/hotels, and high-end residential condos in the downtown/Midtown area. Looking at all the projects going on, we are definitely going to see a significant change to the Seattle downtown skyline in a few years. Olive 8, 5th and Madison, Escala, the list goes on...

One interesting luxury condo is 1521 on 2nd Ave between Pike and Pine St. The condo has been receiving so much interest that more than 50% of their units were sold and the developer will be raising their price tomorrow for some of the units.

1521 is going to be the tallest residential condo in Seattle, rising 400 feet above the market district. There will be 143 residential units which start from the 7th level to 38th level. Each level will only have between 3-5 homes on each level. Construction starts end of July with estimated completion in 2009. The tower’s sculpture-like glass architecture is designed by Weber + Thompson, who also designed the Cristalla project. The condo will be more slender than most downtown towers and grows increasingly slim as it gets higher. This design provides great views and reduces the impact on other building’s views.


• A convenient porte-cochere for ease of arrival and departure
• Grand entry lobby with concierge service. A door man after hours
• High speed elevator
• Business conference space
• Digital video recording surveillance of building entry points
• Landscaped rooftop terrace with city and water view. Chef quality grill and fire place
• Private rooftop terrace room for entertaining
• Fitness center/spa, and yoga and Pilates studio
• Playroom for children
• Bike storage and maintenance area


The homes are elegantly designed, using high quality finishes. A residential building with a five start hotel feel.

• Fire place with satin finish slab limestone
• French wood entry door
• Motorized, open weave window shade system
• Pacific Northwest-crafted cabinetry in maple, white oak, or merbau
• Flexible indoor/outdoor glass room with operable bi-fold windows
• Large, open, walk in spa shower with built in bench
• Smart box system wired for phone, cable and satellite television

To request for a price list, please email me at wendyl<AT>

So what is so unique about this condo? First of all, it’s going to be developed by one of the nation’s largest and most respected real estate development companies, Opus NWR and they are working together with well recognized local developer/real estate advisor William Justen, who is the visionary behind this condo and a long time resident of downtown condo living. He believes there is a niche market that needs to be met.

There are a couple of other things unique about this condo:

• Their smallest floor plan starts at two bedroom. Investor cap is at 5%, making it a very exclusive residential tower than most condo.

Floor 7-29:   Five homes per floor- average 1,787 square feet
Floor 30-35:  Four homes per floor- average 2,233 square feet
Floor 36-38:  Three homes per floor-average 2,600 square feet    

• Distinctive architecturally design with clean lines. Instead of balcony, W + T  incorporated into each home a creative solarium known as the Glass Room, where a large patio can be opened to the exterior serving it as a terrace or enclosed sun room. It could make for flexible living space given Seattle’s unpredictable weather. I could easily see someone enjoying a fine cigar during the winter beside the fire place in the Glass room or a resident sun bathing during the hot summer.

So far, the A floor plan is their most popular unit. They are all sold out. E and D floor plans are South and Southwest facing. However, they could potentially be blocked by future development. To get a more protected view, you need to be at least 16th level and higher or go with the F or K floor plan.

What’s going on in the neighborhood?

1.) Second and Pine-  A upcoming development of a mixed use building with hotel/condo and retail spaces

2.) 1521 condo

3.) Second and Pike- Proposed plan for a high rise condo

4.) Recently completed SAM museum and Washington Mutual Tower

5.) Four Seasons Hotel on 1st and Union (under construction)

So is there anything a home buyer needs to be concerned?  Most buyers will probably raise questions about the clientele along the Pike and Pine corridor between First and Third Ave. The area has been known to be a shady corridor at the same time a busy street used by residents and tourists all year round. With a few high-end developments coming up, it looks promising that the area will be more cleaned up. If the area develops similar to what happened in Belltown in the last few years, this may present a compelling investment opportunity,  Based on the sales so far, it would appear many people are betting on it.


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Updates on Queen Anne High School

Queen_anne_high_school_2_2Currently, Queen Anne High School’s (QAHS) interior is under renovation. Priority registrants will be contacted in August with more information about the opportunity to purchase a home in QAHS before the public grand opening in early September. The priority appointments will most likely take place in late August through September depending on construction progress. Here are some newly released details about the interior.

• There will be two color scheme options offer. Half of the homes are being finished with rich cherry cabinets and half with crisp white cabinets with beadboard details.

• The kitchens in most homes have been configured to include a work island, and they feature glass upper cabinet inserts, slab granite countertops with rolled edges, stainless steel appliances, farmhouse-style sink and full height tile backsplash.

• Where possible, the original hardwood floors have been restored and refinished. Most homes have new hardwood floors with an inset of carpet in the living room.

Stay tuned for more information.

Read more on Queen Anne High School.


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Million dollar cashmere: Four Seasons condos

The Four Seasons Hotel, an ultra-luxury premier hotel and condo tower is coming to the heart of downtown. Located at First and Union, the prestigious 310,000-square-foot mixed-use development will feature 114 guestrooms and 36 condominium suites. Each guestroom will have its own fireplace. The hotel will be near the world-famous Pike Place Market, the financial district, and downtown shopping.

Four Seasons will provide a wide range of services to the development's luxury condominiums. The 110,000 square feet of condominium space under the Four Seasons brand promises to become one of the most favored addresses in the city. The condominiums will offer high-quality amenities combined with a level of service that is probably unsurpassed in the Seattle market. The 21-story building won't be finished until 2008.

The high-rise homes will feature top-end appliances (e.g., Miele appliances, electronic window shades, built-in espresso machines), luxurious finishes, and stunning views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. Interiors of the residential homes will be designed by Susan Marinello, who has also designed other prominent projects, including One Lincoln Tower in downtown Bellevue.   

Units currently available are going for an average of $2,100 a square foot. Home ranges from 1,300 square feet to 3,200 square feet. There are only 20 units left for sale.

• One bedroom's start at $2,125,000 and go up to $2,885,000,

• Two bedroom homes start at $4,250,000 to $7,180,000. 

• Three bedroom residences are between $8,360,000 and $9,450,000.

• 2-level penthouse residences – prices not available

By comparison, Hotel 1000/Madison Tower was selling for an average of $825 per square foot. The median price for a unit at Madison Tower is $1.05 million.

If you are looking for a premier property with world class hotel services for your personal enjoyment and you have the budget, you are not going to be disappointed by Four Seasons.


• Architecture firm NBBJ
• Contractor - Crutcher Lewis
• Interior designeer- Susan Marinello

Where exactly is Four Seasons? Check out this webcam that I originally found from Matt at urbnlivn.

Latest post on Four Seasons.


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Why are Mosler investors smiling?

I just posted this poll a couple of days ago and it looks like SCR readers are big fans of Mosler Lofts.  Vote below and we'll see if everyone else agrees.

Which Seattle condo project will get the best 3 year ROI?
Mosler Lofts
Web Polls by Vizu


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