Downtown Seattle condos Feed

Unique Condo Offering Coming Soon to Downtown Seattle - First Light by Westbank

KK091_0017778_VIEW_04It’s not often I truly get excited about a condominium project that is coming down the pipeline, but after a recent trip to Vancouver to personally meet the developer, Ian Gilespi of Wesbank, and hear his story, learn his philosophies on development, and discover the visions he has for our condominium market here in Seattle and how Westbank would like to fit into that, this feels different and very unique to me. I also had the opportunity on to tour current and past projects of Westbank’s in Vancouver, such as Vancouver House, Shanghai-La Hotel and Residence, and community changing Woodword's.  I am looking very much forward to First Light based on what I saw and experienced.

Why? Well, I am really looking forward to something innovative, fresh, with high design that will truly raise the bar here in Seattle. Living in our condo in South Lake Union now and in our Belltown condo in the past, I feel our developers have been building a lot of the same type of thing over the years, and I’m excited for a condo developer that hopes to have an impact not only on our local condo market, but also positively impact the way we live in our condos, have an impact on the community, and inspire others. I think First Light will be just that condominium community.

As the developer rolls out new information and announces the sales process to the public in the coming weeks, I want to start to get the word out to our clients, both past and present, so that you can decide if this might be a condominium community you could possibly see yourself being a part of.  So read on, and let’s set up time to connect so we can get you in a position to set up a private session.

What Makes Westbank Different?

In this first post about First Light, I’m going to skip talking specifically about the building itself, the unit sizes, the potential price points, layouts, etc. and will instead highlight some of the things about Westbank and this condominium project that I feel are unique, iconic and worth considering for my clients, and who knows, maybe even possibly for Loren and I.  I will focus on each of these in more detail in upcoming blog posts.

  • Bettering the Community They Develop Within

Each and every project incorporates a way to truly improve or help make the local community better.  And I’m not just talking about giving money to affordable housing, which all developers are basically required to do, but going further and actually investing money and resources in the very neighborhood they are developing within. Westbank recently announced they will be working with Food Life Line as their chosen charity and will contribute money from each and every sale at First Light. In addition, at the event I attended this past week, they announced a large $10,000 donation to Food Life Line, to get things started. Chefs Tom Douglas and Thierry Rautureau, who both sit or have sat on the board at Food Life Line and attended the event, said this would contribute to 40,000 meals here in Seattle.  

  • Art/Culture, Music, and High Design are Requirements of Westbank’s Projects

For Westbank, the condo project has to be more than just a building with condo units and some building amenities, and ground floor retail. I appreciate how they intentionally work to ensure that art, culture and high design that inspires are required elements of their projects. I encourage you to do your own research and look at the works of the Architect, James Cheng, and local glass artist John Hogan, who will be creating several elements that will be a part of First Light. 

  • Development that is Diverse and Commitment to Specific Markets Long Term

This is one thing I’m really focused on when I make recommendations to my buyers and when I consider buying for myself.  Is the developer committed to the local market, or they building a “one and done” building. Westbank maintains long term ownership and involvement of their buildings. While most developers build and sell off the retails spaces, Ian likes to maintain ownership and have Westbank manage the retail and office spaces in their buildings. First Light is not the only building they are constructing, in fact Westbank has already broken ground on another multi-family development in Seattle, 1200 Stewart, and the Frye Building on First Hill is soon to come as well. Both are likely to be rental apartments and each incredibly unique and inspiring on their own. And there is more to come, as Ian made mention that he is looking to be developing in Seattle for at least the next decade and beyond. Westbank has chosen Vancouver, Toronto, Tokyo, and Seattle for markets that they are committed to and will focus on.

This is just the tip of the iceberg on information I have about First Light and more information will be announced in the coming weeks by Westbank and their sales team, and I look forward to sharing more about the specifics of the building, and having just received the floor plans, I’m excited to share my favorites with you!

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


Westbank's Skyscraper at 2000 3rd Ave Will Be Condos Called First Light

Westbank's skyscraper at 2000 3rd Ave in Seattle will be new condos called First LightThe 500 foot skyscraper planned for 2000 3rd Ave will be built as condominiums according to the project developer, Westbank of Vancouver, British Columbia.

The lot is currently a surface parking lot and a sales center pavilion is being constructed on the site at this time.

Some of the buildings proposed highlights:

  • 459 condominium units
  • Cantilevered rooftop swimming pool
  • Podium will have retail space
  • 6 floors of office space
  • 38 floors of residences
  • 3 floors of amenity space
  • Will be a luxury project

We will know more about this project once Marco returns from his trip this week to Vancouver to meet with the development and sales team and learn more about the developer, the architect and this new building, which will be called First Light.

Rendering from James KM Cheng Architects and MG2

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


The Shift from Building Apartments to Building Condos

The Seattle Shift from Building Apartments to Building CondosThere have been several recent announcements about new condominium buildings being constructed in Seattle. For the last few years, the only residential developments being built in Seattle were apartments, minus a few outliers like Insignia and Gridiron, but we are starting to see a flood of new condominium projects hitting the scene again.
 
Why the switch from apartments to condos? Well, we think it is due to apartment buildings not being as profitable as they once were. Major investment groups who were once willing to buy apartment buildings at high price/unit price tags are not as bullish right due to the softening of the rental market. That softening is likely due to an oversupply of apartments entering the market, around 6600 rental units are coming just to the South Lake Union neighborhood by 2019. It is now more profitable to build and sell condos. Developers are very market driven so they will make these decisions based on what is happening right now in the apartment and condo markets, but it seems to us that they don’t put onus on the future market conditions that their developments might cause. For instance, if we had built a mix of condos and apartments over the last few years perhaps we wouldn’t have an apartment building glut right now and be starved for condos, we might just have balance. Instead it appears that their decisions are reactionary, if apartments are profitable then they build a ton of apartments, flood the market, the apartment market softens, then they switch to building condos and so forth and so on. Perhaps someday we will see a balance of what is being built, helping both the rental and real estate markets stay more stable over time.

Here are some recent articles on new and upcoming condo projects around Seattle:
2nd Avenue Condos in Downtown  
South Lake Union Condos
403 13th Condos in Capitol Hill
The Neighborhood Collection Condos in Capitol Hill & Wallingford
Spire Condos in Belltown
Solis Condos on Capitol Hill
Emerald Condos in Downtown
Condos in Bellevue

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


New Condo Tower Planned for 2nd Avenue in Downtown

New Condo Tower Planned for 2nd Avenue in Downtown SeattleThe site at 1516 2nd Ave, across the street from Fifteen Twenty-One condominiums, will soon be a new condo tower. The Chromer Building on the site will be torn down and replaced by a 45 story building containing 498 condo units and ground level retail.

The Developer is Pinnacle Plus is a joint venture of Plus Investment, who is also developing condo project in South Lake Union just announced.

The website for the new tower describes the tower this way, "Designed by the award-winning HEWITT team, the project demonstrates strength, femininity, and careful place-making. At once a destination and a gateway, it will join a family of historic and new buildings which nestle around the city’s heartbeat: Pike Place Market."

This building is across the street from Fifteen Twenty-one condos and across the alley from the Fischer Studio condominium building.

Map from Google Maps


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


The Emerald Condominiums - Sales Early 2019

The tower you see rising up at 121 Stewart St right by the Pike Place Market in Downtown Seattle will be The Emerald condominiums. The tower you see rising up at 121 Stewart St right by the Pike Place Market in Downtown Seattle will be The Emerald condominiums.

Developed by Daniels Real Estate, the Emerald will contain 365 condominiums in 40 stories. The sales gallery will open for sales in early 2019.

Their website describes the tower as "bringing a new level of high-rise living to downtown Seattle. The tower's iconic, façeted-glass exterior houses a collection of 265 signature residences with unrivaled views and breathtaking amenity spaces." Based on the plans submitted to the city, the Emerald will have one, two and three bedroom condos ranging in size from 540 to 1,700 square feet. It will have retail on level one and amenities including a gym, yoga studio, pet area, guest suite and rooftop level party room and outdoor space.

We look forward to seeing the renderings, unit finishes and confirmed amenity offerings along with the price points.

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





Downtown Seattle Area LID Assessment Information

We have received a ton of questions about the potential local improvement district (LID) assessment for the waterfront improvements that would affect some property owners in Downtown Seattle, Belltown and South Lake Union.

Since we live in the boundaries of the LID we received additional information on the proposed assessment and thought we would summarize what we know for our readers:

  • The Seattle City Council passed a Resolution declaring their intent to initiate the formation of the LID to construct certain elements of the Waterfront Seattle ProgramQuestions about the potential local improvement district (LID) assessment for Downtown Seattle, Belltown and South Lake Union.
  • The LID is a funding tool by which property owners are assessed to help fund the costs of a public improvement that they benefit from by way of a increased property value due to the improvement (special benefit)
  • The LID assessment cannot exceed the property's total special benefit
  • The LID only pays for a portion of the Waterfront improvements
  • It is the city's intent that the LID shall be a one-time assessment and shall not include any future supplemental assessments
  • There are still public hearings you can attend where you can submit your public comments in support of or objecting to the LID
  • The preliminary assessment percentage is 48.23% of the estimated special benefit of the LID improvements for each specific property
  • For example:
    • Our estimated special benefit of LID improvements to our condo: $823.50
    • Our estimated assessment for our condo: $397.14

What we heard from our readers and neighbors, who own residential property in the LID boundary, was that they anticipated having to be thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars for their LID assessment. This was causing a bit of panic for people and causing several of those concerned to sell or consider selling their properties to avoid having to pay the LID assessment. We were also hearing concerns voiced from potential buyers that they didn't want to buy a condo within the boundary of the LID not knowing what they would be on the hook for in terms of this LID assessment amount.

I would think that this information will help quell people's fears a bit as it is much less than we heard most people were anticipating. Hopefully this news, and the Head Tax being squashed, will help the Downtown area condo market to heat back up and maybe open the dam a bit on the buyers who were sitting on the sidelines fearing the Head Tax and LID assessment repercussions.

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


Tower Site at 1516 2nd Ave Sold to Original Elev8 Developer

Chomer BuildingUrban Visions sold their tower development site near Pike Place Market, located at 1516 2nd Ave across the street from Fifteen Twenty-One condominiums, to the developer who was planning the 4 tower Elev8 mixed use project in Bellevue, which includes offices, apartments, and condos. The developer, Plus Investments USA, has sold its controlling interest in Elev8.

Will this tower now be developed into a condominium building? It is unconfirmed at this time but according to the PSBJ article "the plan seems to be a condominium project". So we are hopeful! The previous owner of the site, Urban Visions, was planning a building containing retail and office space so condominiums would be a shift so we will have to wait to see what this new developer plans for this site.

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


NEXUS Pre-sale Opportunities End 6/30

The NEXUS model home and presentation center will be closing on June 30th and all pre-sale opportunities will stop at the time of the presentation center closure.

If you are considering purchasing at NEXUS now might be the time to do it so you can benefit from the pre-sale price offerings, still select your interior color palette and receive a $25,000 buyer decorator allowance, which they are throwing in from now through June 30th.

At this time, NEXUS is 90% sold and the available options are 2 and 3 bedroom floor plans, ranging in size from 1,022 to 2,142, and priced from $1.2 million to $3.5 million.

Here is the current availability:
NEXUS Availability 5.22.18
By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle downtown condos.


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


Our New and Improved Seattle Condominium Building Map

Seattle Condo Map (2)Since our blog's inception back in 2006, our Seattle Condo Map has been a place where our readers could go to find information about the various buildings in and around the Downtown Seattle core.

We decided that it was time to revamp SCR's Seattle Condo Map, expanding it to include all buildings in Seattle, to include more detailed information about each building and to create it in a format that allows our readers to search it for information important to them that might not be readily available either online, or within other real estate sites that rely only on information from the MLS.

We are very proud to announce that our new and improved Seattle Condo Map has launched!!!

Our new map contains information about all condominium buildings in the city of Seattle! It is a constant work in progress as condo buildings go through updates, condo buildings become apartment buildings, apartment buildings become condo buildings, new condominium buildings are proposed and new construction buildings are completed. The information contained in our Seattle Condo Map will continue to be updated so please make sure you check back in with the map often. We intend to add links to our Condo Review articles to each building as we review them so our write ups with pros, cons and stats about the building will be available via one click from the map listings. This is something we are actively working on and think will be an amazing resource tool for those looking to buy or sell their condo. 

A couple things to know about our new map:

  • There is a directory of buildings that is organized by area - Downtown Area, Northeast Seattle, Northwest Seattle, Queen Anne & Magnolia, South Seattle, Central Seattle and West Seattle
  • The buildings are also color coded to denote the following categories - luxury, proposed, under construction, historic or co-op
  • You can search the map if you open it up - for example, you can search 'concierge' and see all of the buildings in Seattle with concierge services

Since this map will forever be dynamic, we encourage you, as our readers, to let us know if any buildings are missing or if any of our information is incorrect. We want to do our best to provide the most accurate information we can and we need you all to make that happen!

We hope you find the map interesting and helpful and we hope it is a tool you will bookmark and enjoy using for many years.

Check the map out here! Or from the navigation bar on our website.

Cheers-
Marco and Loren Kronen