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Cristalla: Happy Ending, New Beginning

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rsz_1cristalla1After two years of litigation, we are pleased to report news that Cristalla’s Homeowners Association Board has reached an agreement with its developer to settle all outstanding building litigation claims, with a court dismissal of the lawsuit expected within the next thirty days.  Terms of the settlement are confidential and will be disclosed to homeowners in more detail at a private meeting in early July. 

Cristalla’s architect is working to finalize detailed plans to start repairs to the roof (Sky Terrace and external ledge, or its “eyebrow”), additional remediation treatments to the South Wall at parking levels to reduce the chance of further water intrusion (check out our coverage on last fall’s repairs here), plus a complete rebuild of its 6th floor Steam Room. Within the next few weeks, Cristalla’s Board intends to select a general contractor to complete the work. 

One of Seattle’s most beloved high-rise condominiums, the Cristalla took its inspiration from the Crystal Pool, an Italian Renaissance structure built on the site in 1914.  Architect B. Marcus Priteca planned a high-relief, neo-classical façade of glazed terra cotta with domed corner entries.  Arched steel trusses supported a glass roof, which covered a huge pool with salt water piped in from Elliott Bay.  At the time, it was one of the most popular recreation spots in Seattle.  Priteca later designed a building which has lasted a little longer… West Seattle’s Admiral Theater.

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Today, the base of Cristalla hearkens back to those times.  And, in addition to the lobby’s elegant staircase and two-story water feature, Traver Gallery and artist Anna Skibska provided artistic decor throughout. Interior designer Mandy Reed continued the theme of the building’s history by maintaining a prevalence of water through the use of translucent panels on Cristalla’s doors, and glass panels on its upper kitchen cabinets.  All homes feature hardwood flooring plus carpeted bedrooms. Studios, 1-bedrooms, 2-bedrooms and penthouses range from 420 to 2,800 square feet.

You’ll never lose your western view at Cristalla, either.  Developers bought the air rights above the neighboring property, capping any future growth to eight stories.

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The Cristalla enjoys a Walk Score® of 97 and a Transit Score™ of a perfect 100. As you can see by this link, its location is amazing. You’re steps away from the best of Belltown in any direction.  The Cristalla is pet-friendly too.  There’s even a dog run on the rooftop!  Lots of other amenities as well, ranging from a 24-hour concierge to a rooftop BBQ area.  Check out our Cristalla website for more details.  Our website also has a Listings tab on available properties.

Getting a loan at the Cristalla during ongoing litigation was often a challenging task.  With litigation now resolved, obtaining a loan will be much easier.  There is a lot to love about the Cristalla.  We invite you to learn more about this special place, and even arrange for a  private tour.  Just give us a call at 206~910~5000, or send an email to urgent@stroupe.com.

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Fifteen Twenty-One Second: How “Design Matters”

February 28, 2011 by  
Filed under 1521, Featured, Opus, Pike Place Market

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“Design Matters” is a new video series on the attributes of Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue, bearing testimony that the unique qualities of Fifteen Twenty-One have earned them their distinctive market niche, which has continuously held its value in spite of the current condominium market.

The six spokespersons representing different design attributes on the Design Matters series (note that the starred* names are also Fifteen Twenty-One homeowners) are:

1.0 – Architecture / Blaine Weber*, Architect and Principal of Weber Thompson Architects

2.0 – Interior Design / Susan Marinello, Interior Designer of Susan Marinello Interiors

3.0 – Amenities & Lifestyle / William Justen*, Project Visionary and Longtime Downtown Resident

4.0 – Development Practices / Tom Parsons, Developer and Senior Vice President of OPUS Group

5.0 – Community & HOA Operations / Amanda Ciliberto, Chef Concierge for Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue

6.0 – Mortgage Lending / Jeff Bell*, Preferred Lender and Partner with Cobalt Mortgage

rsz_1521_living_roomThe contributors cite numerous tangible and intangible attributes that set the project apart including: transformative “tall and slender” architecture; protected water views; all larger format homes averaging 1,988 sq. ft.; the first-of-its-kind “Glass Rooms” in the homes; a uniform “all penthouse” approach to design; a strong sense of community; and a sales focus towards principle residences helping to maintain established market pricing.   This has led to numerous awards and acknowledgments by industry judges at regional and national development competitions held by such organizations as NAIOP, Multifamily Executive Magazine, The Pacific Coast Builder’s Conference and The National Association of Homebuilders.

Right off of Pike Street, Fifteen Twenty-One is within easy walking distance to Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, plus a number of shops and restaurants in the best of Belltown.  Only 3 to 5 homes are located on each floor (143 units on 38 stories), ranging from 1,659 to 2,958 sq ft.   Their claims of being “The West Coast’s Most Successful High-Rise Condominium” are well-founded because they paid off their $176 million construction loan in the fall of 2010.

rsz_1521_kitchenFifteen Twenty-One also has a great list of amenities including a 24-hour concierge, security controls, conference space / digital boardroom, rooftop terraces with wide-open city, water and mountain views, a rooftop Sky Lounge, spa-worthy residential fitness center plus a yoga and Pilates studio, playrooms for kids and a convenient pet area.

With over 75% of its homes sold, public records confirm that Fifteen Twenty-One has closed more in-city condominiums valued above $1 million than all other new construction condominium developments in the city combined.   Some of this is attributed to overwhelming consumer preference to the matchless design characteristics, plus protected water views programmed several years ago. 

We at the Stroupe  Group are very proud that we have helped many buyers purchase homes at Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue, and they still express their satisfaction over their decision to buy.  We continue to be positive about this project, and firmly believe that this is one of the nicest condominium developments in Seattle.  Check out the Design Matters series for yourself, then send us an email at urgent@stroupe.com for more information or to schedule a private tour. 

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Olive 8 – Your chance to own a piece of “The Sky”

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Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty became Olive 8’s new listing agent on January 1st, and it is open for business!  Dubbed “The Sky Collection”, up for sale at Olive 8 are homes located from the 27th floor and up. Tap on this Olive 8 link to check out a five-minute video with author and syndicated columnist Tom Kelly.  He examines the new condominium development market in Seattle, specifically focusing on this exciting property.  

The video also refers to the amount of new condominium homes available in the Seattle area, and below is a copy of the graph as referenced by Dean Jones, Principal and Owner of Realogics Sotheby’s. 

Courtesy of Realogics Sotheby's International Realty

Courtesy of Realogics Sotheby's International Realty

Note the amount of available condominiums in orange, in comparison to the number of condominiums that were converted to apartments (apartment conversions) in green. As a result, Olive 8 represents 25% of the available new condo market.*

Olive 8 is a 39-story luxury hotel/condominium building on the corner of Olive Street and 8th Avenue in downtown Seattle. Atop 17 floors occupied by the Hyatt at Olive 8 hotel, it includes one-bedroom and two-bedroom luxury view homes, plus three world-class penthouses. Your new home at Olive 8 will boast panoramic views and high-end touches, combined with world-class hotel amenities and services. Better still are special privileges for homeowners including private elevators and controlled access, a 24-hour concierge, a private residential club lounge and discounted rates at Elaia Spa.

olive-8-condo-200x300Fans of green living are in for a delightful surprise with Olive 8, the first hotel/ condominium building in Seattle to receive an LEED Certification (Silver)!   Its green roof, one of the largest in Seattle, provides an urban habitat for birds, bees and butterflies while reducing storm water runoff to city sewers. Olive 8′s dedication to the environment also results in 36% less water usage (approx savings of 2.4 million gallons annually) and 23% less power usage.  

Olive 8′s environmental stewardship also reaches far beyond its walls. It was the first Seattle building to participate in King County’s Transfer of Development Rights program. In exchange for building higher, developer R.C. Hedreen Company contributed nearly $1 million to preserve 284 acres on Sugarloaf Mountain in rural King County, as well as vital salmon habitat.

We’re busy retooling our own websites for the new Olive 8 opportunities.  In the meantime, you can stay in touch on the latest Olive 8 news, or schedule a private tour with us by contacting this Stroupe Group link.   

*Units are identified as being sold as a non-refundable earnest money deposit (pending) or closed.  Please note that title reports are often late with real time information and often show fewer homes sold than actual. 

Olive 8’s New Listing Agent? Realogics Sotheby’s!

olive 8 seattleRealogics Sotheby’s International Realty is ending 2010 on a very high note, and it could result in an amazing buy for you in 2011.

An exclusive listing agreement was signed last week with developer RC Hedreen Company to sell all of Olive 8‘s remaining inventory, now starting from the 27th floor and up.  Olive 8 is a 39-story, 229 unit mixed-use condominium and hotel ( Hyatt at Olive 8 ) high-rise located at 8th Avenue and Olive Way in downtown Seattle.

In order to maintain 50% project sales as required by Fannie Mae lending guidelines, 32 units at Olive 8 were recently sold at auction to replace mostly investor presales that were unable to close in today’s credit environment. The auction helped establish a base for current market values, enabling RC Hedreen to restructure its construction debt with US Bank, providing a long term runway to sell into an improving marketplace.

“We’ve eliminated many of the pressures that we faced, so it’s now time to realign values for today’s market,” said Dick Hedreen, RC Hedreen’s chairman. “2011 represents a new beginning for Olive 8 and Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty is uniquely positioned to lead us through a successful sellout.”

Dean Jones, Principal of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, added that there is a finite supply of new construction condominiums in downtown Seattle. No new developments have broken ground since the credit crunch in 2007 and since that time, several condo projects reverted to apartments and sold to REIT’s, reducing inventory.

According to Jones, fewer than 450 new condominiums remaining unsold in the city center and most pundits agree it could be many years before any new condominiums are developed. RC Hedreen and Realogics Sotheby’s are researching home values by retaining appraisers and meeting with real estate brokers and potential homebuyers to reassess the marketplace. Olive 8 is expected to be reintroduced to the public in 2011 with new lower pricing.

rsz_1olive-8-condo_logo for text“I’m confident that our business philosophy will make perfect sense to those homebuyers that have been waiting on the sidelines for an opportunity,” says Hedreen. “And considering that our available inventory now starts on the 27th floor, we saved the best for last.”

We are in the process of retooling our own websites for the new Olive 8 opportunities. If you would like to stay in touch on news or private tours when Olive 8’s new releases come on market, please contact us at this Stroupe Group link.   

The Decatur: First Hill Finery, with a Neighborly Touch

October 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Decatur, Featured, FirstHill, Wysong Group, Zipcar

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You may find yourself torn as to what you want in a condominium home. You thrive in the high energy of a city. Then you come across a photo of a street with big, shady trees and think, “I’ll never find that here”. Surprise! The Decatur Condominiums not only offers you a neighborhood lifestyle but you’re also minutes away from a lot of Seattle living. And, at up to 35 percent off its original prices, The Decatur is a bargain to boot!

The Decatur was designed by Space Needle architect John Graham Jr. in 1950. The recent restoration and upgrading of its 13 stories by Wysong Group (who also worked on Tobira and the Press) now feature 146 one-bedroom (starting at $189,950) and two-bedroom (starting at $269,950) homes. There are four floor plans to choose from, all homes sporting Brazilian cherry wood floors, plush carpeting, granite countertops and top-of-the line stainless steel appliances.

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If you’re into green living, this building is a beauty. It has a Zipcar service plus a parking area for bikes and scooters. You’ll also be living in what’s ranked as Seattle’s third most “walkable” neighborhood. Want a place with views? From the ground floor where you enter from tree-lined streets, to the rooftop terrace with wraparound city, mountain and water views, there is beauty from top to toe. Is security an issue? You have a controlled access entry with CCTV surveillance. There’s even a live-in building manager.

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But what’s really nice about The Decatur is that when you come home from a busy city day, you really feel as if you’re not IN the city anymore. Its First Hill location is in one of Seattle’s most established neighborhoods, which prides itself in keeping its streets quiet and safe. Neighboring buildings and homes are beautiful and carefully kept. Actually, it’s hard to believe that all this peace and quiet is sandwiched between two of the hottest areas in Seattle. To the north is the edge of Capitol Hill’s Pike/Pine neighborhood, and to the south is Downtown. Both areas have something for everyone, with a wide range of shops, restaurants, culture and nightlife.

The Decatur is located at the foot of Capitol Hill on the corner of Boren Avenue and Spring Street. Over 65 percent sold, The Decatur is ready for immediate move-in. Take advantage of their final sales release, with FHA financing* available. There’s also 3.5% down payment options, and closing cost credits available.

Want to check it out?  Contact us at this link!

NOTE: Seller reserves the right to change the product offering without notice. *Financing assumes 3.5% down payment (FHA) on a 30 year fixed mortgage with a 2-1 buy down by seller for 2.25% interest first year, 3.25% interest second year and 4.25% thereafter. Payment includes P&I and MI. (HOA dues and taxes not included). This is not a commitment to lend – certain restrictions and qualifications required. E&OE.

A Bulletin from Bellevue: The Bravern’s North Tower Goes Rental

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It’s been one of the hottest rumors around and now sources have confirmed that developer Schnitzer West is converting The Bravern’s second tower in downtown Bellevue from condominiums to luxury apartments. Its North Tower is 33 stories high and will have 211 apartments available. Units range from 600 to over 2,000 square feet, and rents will start at $1,550.

Schnitzer acknowledged that while the North Tower received conditional mortgage financing approval through Fannie Mae and FHA, sales demand simply wasn’t there. All purchase agreements have been terminated, and earnest money deposits are being returned. The Bravern’s first residential complex, its South Tower, also started out as luxury condominium building. Lack of demand caused Schnitzer to convert it to apartments in April 2010. Also 33 stories high, 65 percent of its 236 apartments are currently leased.

The Bravern isn’t the only complex experiencing slow sales. Units in two other downtown Bellevue high-rise condo projects aren’t doing big business either. However, the Bellevue apartment scene is a different picture. Demand for in-town living is increasing across the Seattle area, causing rents to rise and vacancies to shrink. In addition to The Bravern, Schnitzer converted its 204-unit Equinox condo complex in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood to apartments in 2009. At least four recently built Seattle projects have converted from condominiums to apartments.

Why is this a silver lining for the Bellevue condo community?  Conversions to apartments means more inventory is off the table, further solidifying its condo market. And, Schnitzer sees its actions as a temporary situation. Its press release states that “…a structural shift has occurred in residential demand from owned to rental housing. Over time, we expect the pendulum to shift back to more normalized market conditions and The Bravern Residences will be positioned to capture ownership demand when market conditions warrant.”  

We can’t emphasize enough how good a time it is to buy. With apartments approaching historical highs, plus home pricing and interest rates at historical lows, maybe it’s time to take a second look at sticking your rent money into an investment, and a place, to call your own. Contact us at this link and let’s get you started!

The Value of the View by William Justen

A recent study has shown that condos with a view are of course more likely to sell, but by how much?  Unfortunately there is no magic formula to accurately pinpoint the value of downtown Seattle view.  However, it sure would make our jobs easier if it could be as easy as:

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Former Planning Director and owner of 22 downtown Seattle properties, William Justen, has pointed out that buyers are attracted to views of Elliott Bay more so than amenities and/or finishes.

Today about 175 units remain unsold within four condominium buildings west of 2nd Avenue. This compares to 481 units remaining between 4th and 8th avenues to the east. These view premiums can range from 25% to more than 50% over a comparable home, especially if the view is protected. That’s why the West side of 2nd Avenue may soon look like Park Avenue – there are four permitted condominium towers planned between Pine and Lenora streets, and the City of Seattle recently extended all permit holders’ development rights for six years to maintain this trajectory.

A Value of View Flyer presented by William Justen’s project Fifteen Twenty-One, shows that many downtown addresses still have threatened views.  This in turn threatens your investment’s value, and should be a well thought- out precaution before making a decision that could potentially cost you $10,000′s from something as simple as an application for a building permit.  Although many of the proposed projects that have been postponed from 2006/07 may still not break ground for another couple of years, developers are still holding onto permits as Seattle continues to be one of the top cities people relocate to.

Over the past 18 months, 123 units have been sold within six condominium towers with an average purchase price of $2 million. The top property sale was more than $9 million. In 2009, the vast majority of King County’s condo sales valued at more than $1 million were located within a single address: Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue, just a half-block east and high above the Pike Place Market. What’s the secret to such success? Every home offers a protected view of Elliott Bay.

Have you seen our zoning map?  According to specifications presented by the City of Seattle, we created an interactive map that shows how high a residential/commercial lot is allowed to go.  You can find the map under the Search button, or click here to view it now.

By the way, William Justen and all those over at Fifteen Twenty-One would like you to know…

Open House This Weekend
March 27th & 28th
12:00pm to 4:00pm

“Now’s The Time” – Pryde + Johnson Announces Condo Clearance Sale in Ballard and Greenlake

FloreraInGreenlake.com for more info.

FloreraInGreenlake.com for more info.

We have recently been given a press release from Pryde + Johnson regarding another bulk buy sales strategy for LEED Silver (targeted) built Hjarta in Ballard and Florera in Greenlake – units will be sold at up to 35% off original pricing in an alternative to auctions.

“We’re meeting the market on price and are committed to selling through as condominiums,” said Curt Pryde, principal of Pryde + Johnson and developer of both Hjarta and Florera Condominiums. “Homebuyers will also benefit from our preferred selection, FHA financing (3.5% down payment), today’s low interest rates and other limited-time incentives such as Federal tax credits up to $8,000 (for purchases contracted before April 30, 2010).”

As we understand it, several dozen sales have been generated to date using the sales strategy at The Decatur and Eleven Eleven East Pike. Rather than slowly lowering prices over a longer period of time (which seems systemic at many projects), Realogics was able convince the developer and their lender to explore more dramatic cuts in hopes of garnering quicker sales.  The block of sales also helps shore up FHA financing and unit appraisals.  In theory, this establishes a stabilized market value for the remaining sales while resolves a common concern amongst “wait and see” buyers that prices will drop further after buying.  Hjarta and Florera will be undergoing a similar strategy and should offer some great deals for those who take advantage.

Studios (578 – 598 sq. ft.) will start from $244,950
One bedrooms (614 – 921 sq. ft.) will start from $274,950
One bedroom plus dens (792 – 923 sq. ft.) will start from $314,950
Two bedrooms (1,037 – 1,447 sq. ft.) will start from $399,950
Two bedrooms plus den penthouses (1,331 – 1,578 sq. ft.) will start from $589,950
Three bedroom plus den penthouses (1,909 sq. ft.) will start from $799,950

HjartaInBallard.com for more info.

HjartaInBallard.com for more info.

Pryde + Johnson appears to be motivated to sell now so buyers can take advantage of the extended homebuyer tax credit, and today’s historically low rates.  Since rates will soon begin to climb, and the homebuyer tax credit will soon expire, these are exceptional opportunities for buyers who are interested in living outside the urban core, but within one of two prime urban neighborhoods.  The official sales release will begin on March 27 but you can preview in advance – open houses will be scheduled for each weekend or by appointment.  March 27th is the same weekend as Escala reintroduces sales at price drops and 5th & Madison auctions their remaining inventory so it should be a marketplace as buyers hunt down bargains.

PRESS RELEASE

Schedule a Showing

DisclaimerThese projects are listings of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty’s “special projects” division, which is affiliated but independent of the “resale” division co-founded by James Stroupe and Moira Holley.

Opus Northwest is Looking for a Buyer

February 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Opus

Opus Northwest started more than $200 million in fee-based construction works in 2009 and has signed more than $175 million in third-party construction contracts this year.

Purchasing Opus Northwest would give the buyer a quick entry into several Northwest markets and potentially some real estate holdings and in-the-works projects. But the purchase could also entangle a potential investor or buyer in the ongoing legal disputes involving Opus Corp. and the Rauenhorst family.

Full Article

Olive 8 Receives More Time to Establish Value

December 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Olive 8, R.C. Hedreen Co.

With the recent announcement regarding a $90 million load by U.S. Bank to Olive 8, the condominium project is being allowed two years to adjust while the market recovers by renewing thier construction loan.

Full press release:

U.S. Bank Leads Syndication of $90 million Loan to Olive 8, Providing Financing for Green Downtown Seattle Condominiums

Two year extension of construction loan is a ray of hope in today’s market

(Seattle) December 14, 2009 ― Long-time Seattle developer R.C. Hedreen Company has received a crucial renewal of its construction loan for up to two years for Olive 8 through a $90 million loan syndication led by U.S. Bank.  At a time when many regional projects are at a standstill and unable to secure financing, this loan renewal helps Olive 8 earn its distinction as an urban and sustainable condominium project that has been able to move forward as planned while continuing to be a desirable option for buyers.

Olive 8 is Seattle’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified (Silver) hotel/condominium building.  Hyatt at Olive 8 occupies the first 17 floors with another 22 floors of luxury condominiums above.  Of the 229 condominium homes, 51 have closed.  A wealth of new research indicates green building is forward-thinking, offers many long-term financial benefits and is an investment that pays off in terms of lower energy and water bills, as well as healthier indoor air.

R.C. Hedreen President David Thyer says, “As the developer, it’s not unexpected for us to think Olive 8 is unique and will hold its value in the long-term.  But the extension of this loan syndication led by our long-time partner, U.S. Bank, reinforces our belief that this hotel/condominium combination in the heart of Seattle is a project with a strong future.  We see it as a very positive sign in what has been a slow and challenging market.”  Olive 8 was designed by the internationally acclaimed New York City firm Gluckman Mayner Architects in partnership with local architect, MulvannyG2.

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank’s history of doing business with R.C. Hedreen dates back 15 years, with a variety of projects being financed over the years.

“We are proud to be involved with the construction of Olive 8, which shares our commitment to quality and environmentally-sound business practices that help sustain our resources and the environment,” says John Swanson, senior vice president in commercial real estate at U.S. Bank. “Also, this a shining example of the fact that U.S. Bank is a strong leader within the banking industry, and that we continue to make loans and provide financing to projects like Olive 8, even in this difficult economy.”

Due to its sustainable design and construction, which includes one of the largest green roofs in Seattle, Olive 8 is expected to use 23-percent less energy and 36-percent less water than a comparable non-green building.  It is the first building in Seattle to participate in King County’s Transfer of Development Rights program; in exchange for higher building rights, R.C. Hedreen paid nearly one million dollars toward the preservation of 284 acres on Sugarloaf Mountain in rural King County, as well as vital salmon habitat. The carbon footprint of the Olive 8 building will soon be reduced by 21-percent when Seattle Steam Company, which provides heating for the hotel, will begin using mostly biomass as fuel instead of natural gas. Olive 8 also features preferred parking spaces for highly fuel-efficient vehicles and outlets for electric cars in the underground parking lot.

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