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June 2008

Seattle Tech Economy: #1 in Job Growth Nationwide

SeattlecondooasisNice to see a positive article once in a while amid all the scary news about oil prices and real estate troubles in the rest of the country.  Will be interesting to see if Seattle manages to maintain it's relatively soft landing while national prices appear to be bumping along the bottom (and likely to do so for at least another year).

Now for the good news:

The Seattle area added the greatest number of high-tech jobs in 2006, outpacing Boston, San Francisco and more than 50 other U.S. cities, according to the Cybercities report from the American Electronics Association.

The report, released Tuesday, is another indication that the high-tech economy in the Seattle area continues to purr as companies such as Microsoft, Google, and dozens of startup enterprises add new workers. (The P-I recently reported on Microsoft's record employment growth, with 38,856 workers in the Puget Sound region and 89,809 worldwide as of May 31.)

See the full summary in the PI here.

1 Hotel or None Hotel?

2nd_and_pine_2_31 Hotel recently announced (news) that Portland developer, Paul Brenneke has sold his interest in the project to its partner, Starwood Capitol Group.  With 100% ownership in the development site, Starwood is working on revising the project.  Construction will be on hold and the sales center will be closed until early next year when they will announce their new vision.

This project seems to be taking years to develop.  Just a few months ago, we heard they were reducing the number of City Suites in the building.  Now, they are going to have another round of redesigns.  It looks like the City Suites may not even be offered -- partly due to changes within the commercial guidelines.  Frankly, I wonder how many current home buyers will stay with this project after this announcement.  Assuming some of them have a longer purchasing time frame, certain home buyers may welcome the delay.  For other who have been waiting to see some progress on the development, this may be testing their patience. 

Either way, Starwood will also face the challenge of coming up with a blow away idea to retain current purchasers and other home buyers waiting on the fence on this project and at the same time competing with other projects that are beginning construction soon in the downtown and Belltown areas.                      .

Madison Lofts Grand Opening


I have been waiting to tour Madison Lofts for a while. The project seems to be taking forever. Finally, yesterday I had the chance to drop by. I keep asking myself, what am I so attracted to this building? Is it because it is the only new construction condo in Madison Park, the intrigue of modern lofts living in the already upscale residential neighborhood, or Sunday night's news about the developer reducing their price per square foot from $700 to $500/square foot? I have to say it's all of the above.

I took the tour of some of their smaller units and penthouses as well. The lowest price for their loft unit is $429,000 (#210). The rest of them range from $519,950 to $579,950 with the penthouses asking for $799,950 to $1.2M. So far, the project has sold 4 units.  Here are a few things about Madison Lofts:

  • Units come with either balcony or combinations of balcony and outdoor deck. The outdoor deck size ranges from ~215 to ~1,100 square feet. Penthouses come with an additional private roof top deck.
  • Each unit has individual air-conditioning/heating system hooked up to a heat pump that goes all the way to the rooftop.
  • The interior finishes have a very European style with clean lines. The pull-up kitchen cabinets have become more and more common in some newer condos. I prefer the traditional type since I'm don't like to reach up to open cabinet doors but I guess most people are taller and won't mind the extra effort to open the cabinets.
  • The building seems really well constructed with double walls between units, corrugated metal for the loft level, commercial style metal railings for the stairway leading up to the loft level and solid brick for the exterior instead of brick veneer.
  • Only two types of upgrades are available, electronic shades and custom closet system.

Continue reading "Madison Lofts Grand Opening" »

South Lake Union Update


Wondering what's going on in South Lake Union nowadays? If you drive on Denny Way recently, you'd probably noticed that Enso and Rollin construction is well under way. A few blocks east of 2200 Westlake, Mirabella, a retirement building, is nearing completion and East of 2200 Westlake, the new Borealis Apartments are now leasing.

Despite all this action, the market has certainly slowed down in many sales centers, including the SLU experiencing lower traffic. If you are curious about South Lake Union, here is a quick update on the three projects:

Veer Lofts- 401 9th Ave N (99 units)
Over 50% sold with 5 listed on the MLS

Enso- 820 Blanchard St (135 units)
Over 50% sold with 5 listed on the MLS

Rollin- 120 Westlake Ave N- (208 units)
Over 30% sold with 9 listed on the MLS

According to the Discovery Center, Vulcan will be building 11 offices for Amazon with completion around 2010 and employees of Amazon will be moving in the offices in 2011. There will be retail spaces in these offices as well (I wonder how many Starbucks that will be...). As for the office portion of Enso, there is no news yet on which tenant will be occupying the space.

Continue reading "South Lake Union Update" »

Mode: Capitol Hill Conversion


Mode condominiums is a 34 unit conversion project located at 752 Bellevue Ave. Sales started recently and so far they've sold about 7 units.  The 3-story building is comprised of small studios, one bedroom's and two bedroom's.  Studios are ~350 square feet, 1 bedroom's ~450 square feet and two bedroom's are ~720-820 square feet. The same developer also converted Beacon Flats in Beacon Hill.  Mode and Beacon Flats are similar in terms of exterior look and interior finishes.

  • Studios from $159,950
  • 1 Bedroom from $219,950
  • 2 Bedroom from $299,950

The offered price does not include parking and storage but they are available for $30,000 and $3,000, respectively. There are two color scheme options for the units. 1st level homes come with an enclosed patio. Even though it is a good size, I'm not sure how many homeowners will actually use them since they are looking directly at another building. The conversion work involved putting in new incoming plumbing lines, electrical and lighting systems, and part of the building exterior was replaced with aluminium siding.

The developer did a decent job sprucing up the building, however, it still comes across a little apartmentish. The units' interior space is tight but at that price point, you can't expect too much square footage.  Overall, I wasn't blown away or particulary disappointed -- Mode struck me as a pretty typical apartment conversion project.

Continue reading "Mode: Capitol Hill Conversion" »

Northgate's Thornton Place Development


Northgate is not an area that I focus on but I thought this was a really interesting development.  As most of us shopaholics know, major renovation work has been taking place at the Northgate Mall.

What you may not have noticed is the Thornton Place project scheduled for completion in the spring of 2009. This six-acre project is being developed by Lorig, a real estate development and management company, in partnership with Stellar Holdings and ERA Care communities.

Continue reading "Northgate's Thornton Place Development" »

New Condo Law: Reserve Studies

Resale_certificate If you are buying a condo soon, a new law is going to help you make better decisions on the financial health of the condo. Effective today, home buyers will receive resale certificates where the homeowners' association must state whether or not the association has had a reserve study.

The revised law encourages the homeowners' association to conduct a reserve study and create a reserve account to fund major maintenance and repairs. 

If the association does not have a reserve study, the resale certificate must include a warning that the lack of a reserve study poses certain risks for the purchaser. Read news here.

Seattle Condo Market Update


Anxious about what is happening to the condo market over the next few months in Seattle?  Join the club.  May numbers are in and here are some highlights. 

The bad news is we continue to see high inventory compared to the same time last year and pending sales were down compared to the same time last year.  The good news is median prices actually went up 4%. There was also a small increase in median prices of 2.5% compared to last month.

Continue reading "Seattle Condo Market Update" »

Brix Update


      10th Ave (Townhomes / Lofts)

Brix construction is nearing completion with the move-in date scheduled for August 8, 2008 for their 10th Ave town homes / lofts and September 8, 2008 for their Broadway units.  32 units on the 10th Ave side and 57 units on the Broadway side are already sold -- roughly 60% of the total units.  Most of the remaining units in the Broadway side are in the $300,000's.  Just like Escala, they have also raised their prices on some of their units.

Right now, only a town home model unit is available for viewing. A sky bridge connects the two parts of the 10th Ave units. The roof top deck has a pretty good view that shows the skyline of downtown Seattle as well as the Sound and territorial views of Capitol Hill. When completed, there will also be a central courtyard with a water fountain.

Continue reading "Brix Update" »