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McGraw Square Renovation Underway


The McGraw Square renovations officially began on September 24. One of the smallest parks in Seattle, it is located near the Westin Hotel at the intersection of Fifth Avenue, Stewart Street and Westlake Avenue. This project permanently closes Westlake Ave between Olive Way and Stewart St to create a transit, bicycle, and pedestrian-friendly plaza at the current terminus of the Seattle Streetcar South Lake Union line.

The goals of the new, centrally-located plaza are to make walking and biking through north downtown safer and more comfortable, while improving the transfer abilities of the Seattle Streetcar, Monorail, light rail tunnel, and major bus routes. The project also seeks to better connect the South Lake Union and Denny Triangle neighborhoods to the existing retail core, offering a “sense of place” to help orient new housing and promote economic development.

Just follow the numbers. The McGraw Square Transit Mall renovations include:


1. A second streetcar platform to improve rider access to/from the new plaza

2. Integrated transit shelter/covered bicycle parking for up to 10 bikes

3. Landscaped rain garden to infiltrate majority of stormwater and reduce runoff entering the sewer system

4. Illuminated seat walls with signage, to act as gateway for Westlake Hub

5. ADA access, lighting, and seating improvements near the historic McGraw statue

6. Inlaid, energy efficient (LED) light tiles as part of a comprehensive dynamic, colored lighting scheme

7. Salvaged granite pavers for detailing, taken from overstock of original Westlake Park installation

8. New street trees to replace (two-for-one) those being removed near McGraw statue; new large specimen trees to anchor Westlake Ave terminus

9. Oversized curb ramp, utility connections to facilitate mobile food vending and plaza programming

SDOT is also considering converting 6th Ave between Virginia St and Westlake Ave to a two-way operation (and to relocate the charter bus zone), with the Westlake Ave to Stewart St approach reduced to a single southbound lane. The Seattle Streetcar and buses running along 5th Ave remain in full service during construction.

McGraw Square is named after John Harte McGraw. This grocer from Maine was a Seattle police chief, harbor master, fire warden, King County sheriff, and Washington State governor from 1893-97. The designer of McGraw Square and its completion date are unknown, but it was influenced by the famous park plan that John Charles Olmsted of the Olmsted Brothers firm in Brookline, Massachusetts drew up for Seattle in 1903. Their vision of the Seattle park system was to celebrate, showcase and protect Pacific Northwest landscapes while providing residents and tourists with park access and recreation.  

The McGraw project is also part of the City’s larger Center City Strategy to make Westlake one of three transportation “hubs” serving downtown (with King Street Station and Colman Dock). Construction of the plaza project is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving 2010.

Central Waterfront – The Lead Design Winner & Why

September 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Waterfront, Waterfront/Piers


From an initial field of 30 companies, the City of Seattle announced on September 21 that the award-winning firm of  james corner field operations will serve as the lead designer over 20 acres of public lands for Seattle’s new Central Waterfront. Whittled down to a field of four, they made their pitches for the project at Benaroya Hall on September 15. We were in a crowd of nearly 1,300 and watched founder James Corner lead the presentation for his group.

Although the firm is based in New York, Corner is a native of Manchester, England. He made comparisons of the work heritage of the Seattle piers to those in Manchester, making an immediate connection that he understood the heart of both. They also presented a video clip where they interviewed people at the piers, asking them for their vision of what they’d like to have done at the waterfront. It was an interesting bit because it was hard to hear the responses with the viaduct  traffic noise in the background, but perhaps it also served to reinforce another reason why the structure needs to come down.  A compelling visual presentation drawing the audience’s imagination towards the possibilities of what the marriage of a working waterfront with an urban space, or as he referred to it, “Seattle’s Front Porch” completed their time on stage, and they ended to a hearty round of applause.

Founded by James Corner in 1998, james corner field operations is a leading-edge landscape architecture/urban design practice known for strong contemporary design across many project lines. Its signature project to date is the High Line in New York City. Formerly an old elevated railroad track on Manhattan’s West Site, it was transformed into 1 ½ miles of grass, trees, benches and pathways. The project won the firm the 2010 National Design Award for landscape design and the American Society of Landscape Architects 2010 Honor Award.

The firm will work with the Central Waterfront Partnerships Committee and there will be plenty of interaction involving public outreach and meetings. Design work begins in October, with a conceptual plan to be finished in  2012. A final design will be decided by 2015, with construction scheduled from 2016 to 2018. Four of their eleven design team partners are based in Seattle and they are:  Mithun, The Berger Partnership, Herrera, and Jason Toft.  We’ll stay in touch as the project develops.

The Grand Opening of Lake Union Park



How long does it take to turn garbage into gold? The answer is 20 years.

And that’s really true. Back in 1990, serious attention was turned towards 12 acres of prime Lake Union property filled with contaminated soil and degraded seawall. It also contained tons of garbage, creosote piles, concrete and asphalt debris. A great deal of vision, paired with a groundswell of community support, would be needed in order to polish this polluted land into a true Seattle jewel.

And 20 years later, what a jewel it is!  Those 12 acres of land is now Lake Union Park, a world-class waterfront park on the south shores of Lake Union. It will have something for everyone. Environmentalists will marvel at the restored shoreline and the returned habitat of turtles, salmon, heron and native plants. History enthusiasts will enjoy the History Trail throughout the park. Outdoor lovers will enjoy the trails for walking, jogging and biking. There’s also a pedestrian bridge, waterfront boardwalk, terraced steps at the lake’s edge. There is a beach for hand-launched boats and a model boat pond. A place to have a picnic?  There’s a tree grove with tables and benches. Things for kids to do?  There’s a 300-foot long interactive fountain, a great lawn and sculpted landforms to play with. The park has a streetcar stop for commuting convenience.


 The pre-dedication festivities kick off on Friday evening, September 24th with a lavish dinner dance. The “Green Tie Gala.” will introduce civic, business and philanthropic leaders to the beauty of Lake Union Park. On Saturday, September 25th, the real party kicks in from sunrise to sunset (7 a.m. – 7 p.m.) and you’re invited!  The community-wide celebration will begin with sunrise yoga and a family Fun Run. The ribbon-cutting ceremony starts at 11:30 a.m. Live music, a fitness field, parade of Seattle mascots, maritime activities, History Trail guided tours, kayak and paddle board demonstrations, and ample food and drink will set the stage for a great day in the park. All activities are free of charge.

Seattle Parks Foundation is a private nonprofit organization working to improve, expand, and create parks and green spaces, building a more vibrant community. Founded in 2001 to bring new resources to Seattle’s park system, Seattle Parks Foundation has completed 30 park projects and secured more than $29 million for parks and green spaces in Seattle. Lake Union Park was specifically chosen as its first major project because of its central location, a need for green space in the downtown area, plus the project’s amazing partnerships with The Center for Wooden Boats, Museum of History and Industry, The United Indians of all Tribes Foundation, and the City of Seattle.

Lake Union Park is located at 860 Terry Avenue. For more information, please visit their website. Come to the park, and come to it often!

Olive 8: Auction Results and Stats

Success!  Over 200 bidders filled a room at the Hyatt at Olive 8 on September 19 to try and snag a deal on 32 units from Floors 18 – 26 that were on the block. By day’s end, very happy new owners walked away with homes averaging 30% off the original price. Here’s a list of the sale action, sorted by square footage.


Sales are subject to seller acceptance and escrow closing.

We are fairly certain this information is accurate… if it changes, we will repost.  We continue to pride ourselves on accurate information.  During the auction, six units were removed from the auction (four 1-bedroom units, two 2-bedroom units).  As the auction progressed, the four 1-bedroom units returned for bidding. By the end of Sunday, all but four units had acceptable bids and the celebration began for those lucky buyers.  The remaining four units were short of the reserve bid.  The seller has a few days to decide what to do with those units.

Although it took an auction to do a significant move of inventory for Olive 8 management, the number of bidders that registered and appeared may be a sign that the Seattle real estate market is entering a more positive phase. In addition, over 1,500 potential buyers viewed the properties prior to auction, which could serve as a great base for future Olive 8 sales down the road.

The number of participating bidders also says something else about Olive 8. They confirm that Olive 8 is a special property, with a wonderful downtown location and a dizzying list of amenities including services through its downstairs neighbor, the Hyatt at Olive 8.  A little over 100 units remain for sale. Check out our website, for more details, then fill out our Contact link.

Coming Attractions at the Cinerama – Including New Management

September 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Belltown, Cinerama, Featured, Lifestyle, MISC


As you’ve recently heard, the Seattle Cinerama Theatre is now closed for a multimillion dollar renovation. Breathe easy, though… it’s scheduled to reopen in November.

Philanthropist and Seattle native son Paul Allen’s plans are to bring this beloved 808-seat landmark into the 21st century. This will include a new feature film screen, state-of-the-art digital sound, and 3-D viewing abilities. Plans are also in the works to do interior and exterior refurbishing.   While all of this is big news, of course, we find the more intriguing part to be an upcoming change of leadership.  Management company AMC Entertainment, Inc. has been replaced with a new management agreement under Greg Wood, owner and operator of the Roseway Theater in Portland.

 Wood was raised in Los Angeles, the grandson of a film editor and son of a director of Sony’s engineering department. After graduating from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, he decided to stay and keep up the family tradition in the Northwest instead. The first movie venue he operated was the Liberty, a vintage movie theater in Camas, on the Washington side of the Columbia River across from Portland. But while he enjoyed great success at the Liberty, Wood desired to have his own theater. The Roseway became available in early 2008.

Wood restored the Roseway’s  original art-deco decor and invested in state-of-the-art projection and sound equipment.  While most theaters would have been butchered into smaller screens, Wood kept the 500-seat auditorium intact, with 330 seats set up for maximum legroom. The upgrades made it easy for him to book major films from “Batman” to “Up” to “Avatar”. And, for those of you who enjoy great cuisine, the Roseway is reported to have some of the best movie popcorn in town.

He should work well with Allen, who grew up attending Seattle Cinerama movies. When rumors in the late 90’s arose that the Cinerama might be turned into a rock-climbing club– or even a parking lot– he bought the venue.  A full interior/exterior renovation began in June 1998, and the Cinerama reopened in full glory and to much applause in April 1999.

The Seattle Cinerama Theatre is one of only three movie theaters in the world still capable of showing three-panel Cinerama films. We’ll keep you posted on the reopening.

The ABC’s of Deeds

September 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Buying, Featured, Selling

Trust Deed

You may think a deed is a pretty standard document but in reality, there are seven types to choose from.  They are:

Bargain and Sale Deed:  A deed by which the grantor “bargains, sells and conveys” real property to the grantee.  A bargain and sale deed conveys fee simple title to the grantee and warrants against defects created by the grantor, except for those matters disclosed in the deed.

Quit Claim Deed:  A deed by which the grantor “conveys and quit claims” to the grantee any interest the grantor might have, if any, in certain real property. A quit claim deed conveys no warranties or title. A quit claim deed conveys no after-acquired title, unless the deed contains words expressing the intent to do so.

Personal Representative Deed:  An attorney-prepared deed used when the seller of property is deceased. The Grantor on this type of deed has been authorized by the court to convey the property on behalf of the estate. The attorney preparing the deed may incorporate warrants similar to Bargain & Sale Deed, Special Warranty Deed or Quit Claim Deed.

Statutory Warranty Deed:  A deed by which the grantor “conveys and warrants” the real property to the grantee. A statutory warranty deed conveys fee simple title to the grantee and warrants against defects asserted by all persons, except for those matters disclosed in the deed.

Special Warranty Deed:  A special warranty deed is similar to a Washington form bargain and sale deed, which conveys fee simple title to the grantee and warrants against defects created by the grantor, except for those matters disclosed in the deed.

Tax Deed:  A deed issued by the county treasurer to the purchaser at a tax sale conducted due to nonpayment of taxes.  A tax deed should be recorded to give notice that title has passed to the purchaser at the sale.

Trustee’s Deed:  A deed issued by the trustee of a deed of trust following the non-judicial foreclosure of a deed of trust in default.  First, the trustee or beneficiary sends a Notice of Default.  Then, the trustee: 1) records a Notice of Trustee’s Sale; 2) holds the trustee’s sale; and 3) issues a Trustee’s Deed to the highest bidder at the sale.  The Trustee’s Deed should be recorded to give notice that title has passed to the purchaser at the sale.

If you need further explanation specific to your situation, please consult your attorney. We’d like to thank Michelle Barry, Senior Account Manager at Commonwealth Land Title Company of Puget Sound, LLC for allowing us to reprint this material. If you have further questions, please contact her at

What Happened at the Waterfront: The Final Four Presentations

September 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Belltown, Featured, Waterfront, West Edge


Seattle civic involvement was alive and well on Wednesday evening, September 15th when an audience of  1,200+ filled the main floor of Benaroya Hall’s S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium and overflowed into the Founders tier level. All were gathered to listen to the presentations of the final four candidates in the running for Lead Designer of Seattle’s Central Waterfront . Their goal was to present, in 20 minutes, their vision of transforming what will be 20 acres of public lands into “a waterfront for the ages—a place for all to come together and enjoy the waterfront now and beyond” as expressed by moderator Daniel Friedman, Dean of the University of Washington’s College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

We have supplied weblinks for each company, and here’s what they had to say, in speaking order:

Wallace Roberts & Todd – Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, Principal, led the presentation.  WRT created a new waterfront, revitalizing seven miles of the Delaware River, in its hometown of Philadelphia .  Their goal is to bring water into the city, bring the city to the water, and create a heart of the city reflecting the vibrancy of Seattle.  They bring a concept of “What has been, What is, What if, and What will be” to the project and visualize the Waterfront as “an open book written over time”.

james corner field operations – James Corner led the presentation.  Most renowned for designing High Line, an urban park set on top of an old railroad structure in New York. A number of Seattle consultants are involved. They refer to the Waterfront as Seattle’s front porch, and their well-done visual presentation outlined their goals for Green Urbanism, Early Wins (start changing the Waterfront NOW), and Public Engagement.

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates –Michael Van Valkenburgh led the presentation.  Designed Brooklyn Bridge Park, which will cover 85 acres and 1.3 miles of waterfront. On their team is architect and former Seattle councilman Peter Steinbrueck.  Their goal is to integrate concepts of “Civic, Boundless, Natural and Urban”. They presented their historical research on the Waterfront and were the only ones to really hone in on fiscal feasibility… they ensure the plan we’ll have is a plan we can maintain.

Gustafson Guthrie Nichol –Shannon Nichol led the presentation. Designed Lurie Garden in Chicago’s Millennium Park, but they were the only ones with a global project map, and the only ones who ran through an extensive array of past projects. Their concept is: “The City on the water, with a Bay as its central point and an entire Downtown as its Waterfront”. They were the only ones to mention the earthquake factor.  As the sole finalist headquartered in Seattle, they received a very warm reception.

A decision is expected shortly and we’ll bring it to you when it’s made. If you’d like to follow the news and the current chatter on the project, link onto
or  “#seattlewaterfront” on Twitter hashtag. 

To watch the presentations for yourself, below is a Powerpoint link to them, plus a link to raw video footage from the Seattle Channel.

PowerPoint Presentations:

Video Footage:

Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue – The Ultimate Success Story!

September 15, 2010 by  
Filed under 1521, 2nd, Featured, West Edge

corky!There’s so much lately about properties in trouble, going bankrupt, or stalled in development that we thought we’d pass along some good news. Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue claims it’s “The West Coast’s Most Successful High-Rise Condominium” and you know what? They’re not kidding. We received word that their $176 million construction loan is now down to only $600,000! They estimate that this loan will be fully repaid with the next closing.  Speaking of which, they celebrated their 100th closing on September 8th.

Fifteen Twenty-One is a 38-story luxury high-rise located on 2nd between Pike and Pine Street. Each level is designed to only accommodate 3 to 5 homes ranging from 1,659 to 2,958 sq ft. The property also boasts protected water views over Pike Place Market, with floorplans designed to maximize visual potential.  An Open House is scheduled for Saturday & Sunday, September 18th & 19th from 12 -4 .  If you’d like more information about this property and what else makes it so special, just fill out our contact form at this Stroupe Group link.  Cheers!

Belltown Art Walk on September 16th

September 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Belltown, Denny Triangle, Lifestyle, West Edge

The next Belltown Art Walk & More begins at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 16th.  Make sure you pick up a flyer as you stroll about. It will contain coupons good for discounts and 2-for-1 offers at Belltown’s most popular restaurants and bars.  We’ve grouped these by avenue for your convenience.  For a map and current event information, check out this link.


Western & Bell:  Mars Hill Church, 2333 Western Ave

1st & Blanchard: Vain, 2018 1st Ave

1st & Blanchard: Gary Manuel Salon, 2127 1st Ave

1st & Battery:  Form/Space Atelier, 2407 1st Ave

1st & Broad: Allure Salon, 2915 1st Ave

2nd & Virginia:  Whisky Bar, 2000 2nd Ave

2nd & Blanchard: See Sound Lounge, 115 Blanchard St

2nd & Blanchard:  Belltown Barber, 2219 2nd Ave #A

2nd & Bell:  Bedlam Coffee, 2231 2nd Ave

2nd & Bell: Roq La Rue, 2312 2nd Ave

2nd & Bell:  Damaged Goods, 2316 2nd Ave

2nd & Bell:  Stylus, 2321 2nd Ave

2nd & Battery:  City Hostel Seattle, 2327 2nd Ave

3rd & Wall: Belltown Video, 2500 3rd Ave

3rd & Cedar:  Street Bean, 2702 3rd Ave

4th & Bell:  Belltown Pull-Apart, 2308 4th Ave

4th & Bell:  Gilt Edge Society, 2312 4th Ave

4th & Blanchard:  Yellow Leaf Cupcakes, 2313 4th Ave

5th & Cedar:  Musadesign, 2617 5th Ave

Denny & Taylor:  In.Fringe, 100 Taylor Ave N #A2

9th & Westlake:  Art Not Terminal, 2045 Westlake Ave

9th & Blanchard:  Eleveight Salon, 2130 Westlake Ave

9th & Westlake:  Design Theory, 2132 Westlake Ave

Olive 8: Anatomy of an Auction

September 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Downtown (MLS Area 701), Olive 8

We’ve been telling you in previous posts how special the upcoming Olive 8 auction will be. Located in the heart of downtown Seattle, Olive 8 has amazing views and numerous amenities, all at once-in-a-lifetime prices. However, the clock is ticking… the auction is on Sunday, September 19th, at 1:00 p.m. sharp but more importantly, you must be pre-registered by Thursday, September 16th at 6:00 p.m. If you still have questions or even qualms about the auction process, so maybe our handy-dandy guide below will help:


Review the Properties – Check out our link at, where you’ll find details of the 34 homes from Floors 18 through 26 that are on the block. Under “The Auction”, there’s a .pdf with unit floorplans. Then, hit our big green contact button and tell us which ones you’d like to see. When we meet, we’ll first discuss what you’re looking for in a home, then physically tour the properties to see which best fit your lifestyle needs and financial means.

Financing – You must be pre-approved through one of two lenders, Bank of America Home Loans or Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Even if you’re a cash buyer, assets must be verified through either of these two lenders. By doing this, you will know that everyone at the auction will have the ability to bid.  Have a pre-approved credit line ready and bring the letter with you.  If you choose to use either one of the lenders, then the seller is offering a $5,000 credit towards non-recurring closing costs (subject to lender guidelines, please check for details). Don’t forget that financing is subject to credit approval, loan document completion and property appraisal. Finally, you will need to bring a cashier’s check for $5,000 plus a personal check for the remaining balance of your earnest money.

Pre-Register – All buyers must be registered in order to attend and bid. The form is simple, and on our website under “The Auction” tab. On auction day, check in for your bidder package. The doors open around 11:00 a.m., but you should arrive no later than 12 noon. Your window to register is a now a short one…  forms must be submitted to the Auction Office prior to 6:00 pm on Thursday, September 16th.  You will not be allowed to register at the door.

The Auction Team – The auction will be conducted by Kennedy Wilson, an international real estate investment and services company based in Beverly Hills, CA. Assisting the auctioneer will be professional floormen to make sure that all bidders are recognized and all bids are reported. Floormen can also answer questions before and during the auction, including asking the auctioneer to pause if needed.  

Before Bidding Begins – The auction will start promptly at 1:00 p.m. with opening remarks summarizing terms of sale, bidding method, and any last-minute changes or disclosures. This only takes a few minutes, ending with the auctioneer conducting a practice auction session.

Be Ready To Bid – You wouldn’t think auctioning 34 homes would go by quickly, but it’s estimated that the entire event should only run an hour. Our meetings with you will also include your bidding strategy, and we’ll be at your side when your condo number is called.

Start the Bidding – Get ready to chime in with your price! If you make a mistake, just correct it with either the floorman or the auctioneer. The auctioneer will say “sold” or “high bidder” as soon as it’s determined the final bid has been made.  When you hear, “Going once, going twice…third and final call”, that’s the cue the auctioneer is prepared to announce a winner. He’ll most likely say something to the effect of, “Sold subject to seller acceptance”.  At that time the buyer will go to another room and sign a contract based on the winning price. Within the next few days, the buyer will know whether or not they’ve made the reserve price.  Seller has the option to counteroffer to meet its minimum reserve if needed. If this does occur, buyer does not have to accept the counteroffer.

The auction will take place at the Hyatt at Olive 8, 1635 8th Avenue in downtown Seattle. Coincidentally, this is the base of the Olive 8 building and part of its great amenities package. Give our website a spin and call us right away!

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