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January 2015

Two 50 Story Buildings on 5th Ave - Escala View Obstruction Advisory

Map of Bldgs Around EscalaIn an earlier article we wrote back in November, we announced that a new 50 story mixed-use building was being planned for the northwest corner of 5th Ave and Stewart (just west of the Westin). It will contain hotel rooms, apartments, and condominium units, a mix we have yet to see here in Seattle. This building now has a name, Altitude Sky Tower.

Now we have learned, from PSBJ, of another 50 story tower that may be constructed on that same block, but on the southwest corner of 5th Ave and Virginia. Douglaston Development is the company looking into building the hotel and residential tower where the Icon Grill currently sits. The article mentions that some units will be apartments so we are unclear on whether or not there will be condos in the mix as of yet.

In 2007 and 2008, this site was originally planned for the condominium project, Heron and Pagoda Towers. In this case, Altitude Sky Tower will sit where Heron was to be and this potential new building will sit on the lot where Pagoda Tower was to be. The Heron and Pagoda project was also slated to be hotel/office/residential mixed-use and top out at 46 stories so even though the lots are now owned by different entities and will not be connected by a middle pedestal like Heron and Pagoda were to be, the plans remain similar for type and height of buildings.

View Obstruction Advisory: As for Escala, if this new building does indeed get built, the east facing units will lose much of their outlook of the city over Icon Grill. The southeast facing unit outlooks will also be impacted by Altitude Sky Tower most likely.

Insignia Condominiums Update – We have seen the inside

20150125_103143We were able to tour inside Insignia condominiums in Belltown this past weekend. The 22nd floor has been completed, including all interior finishes, so we were able to get a feel for how the spaces will live.

Here are some of our thoughts on the final product:

  • The entry doors to each unit were wrapped in wood, much like Fifteen Twenty-One, had lit door numbers and had doorbells, which we thought were nice touches.
  • Having the refrigerators and dishwashers paneled added a feel of luxury to the spaces
  • The 8 foot ceilings didn’t seem to be an issue for most of the Brokers on the tour.  But we were also way up on the 22nd floor with lots of light.  Lower floors may not feel so voluminous potentially.
  • The finishes were just as we expected, just as were shown in the model unit.
  • They added some additional touches like pull out drawers in the bathroom vanities.
  • Another great feature we did not notice in the model was the under counter lighting in the kitchen. 
  • The windows were not floor-to-ceiling like we see at Enso and Escala, they are still very large, but start about a foot off of the ground, more like those found in Olive 8 and 2200 Westlake condos.
  • Some of the deck spaces were larger than anticipated. They can easily accommodate a small table and chairs on some of the decks we viewed.
  • Some of the bedrooms seemed smaller than expected but without furniture for scale, it is hard to know how that will feel once furnished.
  • The views were really impressive but knowing there will be buildings built up around there in the future, views are never guaranteed of course.
  • The distance between the north tower and the south tower is actually farther than I expected.  So there is more separation between the two towers which helps with more views past the opposing tower and also more privacy from the neighbors in the other tower as well.  The distance is much farther than say the twin towers of Ellington, Concord, The Vine, The Klee and 2200 Westlake for example. 

Continue reading "Insignia Condominiums Update – We have seen the inside" »

Luma Condominium Update – Sales Center and Reservations

LUMA BOYLSTON BACK VIEW cropLuma, a condominium building being constructed on Boylston and Seneca in First Hill, has announced a timeline for the opening of their sales center and when they will begin to take reservations.

  • In March, the Luma sales center will open at 907 E Pike, with the grand opening being announced in February
  • In April, floor plans and pricing will be released and they will start taking reservations on specific units

We look forward to attending the grand opening and being able to pass the information we glean along to you.

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


Salt Ballard Condominium Update – New Floorplan Options Announced

We attended a recent preview event for Salt condominiums in Ballard this last weekend and learned that they have changed the floorplates for some of the floors to allow for an increase in the number of 2 and 3 bedroom home options in the building. According to the sales team, there has been a demand for more large units, as the vast majority of the options in Salt were one bedrooms.  The overall number of units went down from 38 units to 34 in total, but they now have 8 additional options for larger condos that will be either 2 and 3 bedroom.

Changes & Updates:

  • Floors 1 and 2 will retain the original floorplate and plans
  • Floors 3 through 6 will remove 3 one bedroom units and replace those with 1 two bedroom and 1 three bedroom
  • The newly added 2 bedroom units have 2 baths and are 966sf
  • The newly added 3 bedroom units have 2 baths and are 1042sf
  • The builder will do light customizations to units as well as long as you purchase them early enough in the construction process
  • Now that there are 34 units, every unit should have a parking space as there are 34 parking spaces

To note
: the newly added 2 bedroom units don’t have any windows in either of the bedrooms and only 1 bedroom in the 3 bedroom units have a window.

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

Condo Review – Bering Condominiums in Capitol Hill

Bering Condominiums in Capitol Hill
233 14th Ave E

Bering Condominiums is a boutique vintage building with 28 units located in Capitol Hill.  The location is just one block from the shops and restaurants of the popular 15th Ave E district.

The stats:

  • 28 residential units – studios, one and two bedrooms ranging in size from 396 to 1,039 square feet
  • Built in 1928
  • The building converted to condominiums in 2000
  • Most units have 1 parking space
  • 2 units have sold in the last 6 months ranging in price from $194.900 for a studio to $475,000 for a 2 bedroom one bath unit; at the time of this post there is one active unit Priced at $375,000 for a 793 sq ft One Bedroom.  No units are currently pending.
  • HOA dues include: central hot water, garbage, water, sewer, building maintenance, professional property management, earthquake insurance
  • Amenities: No common amenities other than Laundry Room


Continue reading "Condo Review – Bering Condominiums in Capitol Hill" »

FHA Mortgage Insurance Reduction Should Be Announced Tomorrow

It is rumored that tomorrow President Obama will announce that FHA will be reducing the annual FHA mortgage insurance premiums by .5 percentage points from 1.35% to .85%. The idea behind the decrease is to help current home owners with FHA loans save on their monthly mortgage costs and to enable more new entry-level home buyers to qualify for and purchase homes, and overall  to support increased home sales and bring balance to the housing market.

An example of what this savings might look like: FHA MIP
$400,000 loan amount
1.35% mortgage insurance premium (MIP)
$450/month for the FHA MIP
$400,000 loan amount
.85% mortgage insurance premium (MIP)
$283/month FHA MIP - a $167/month savings!