Subscribe to Seattle Condo Blog | Seattle Condos for Sale | Downtown Market Trends

Pioneer Square: Body and Soul

July 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Uncategorized


To say life is busy at Pioneer Square is an understatement!  From building rezoning to preservation, the changes now occurring in Seattle’s oldest neighborhood are fast, huge, and potentially historical.  With change, of course, come a few growing pains.

DSCF0370Pioneer Square is on the north end of what the City of Seattle deems “South Downtown”, stretching across the International District and over the Stadium District.  The City does not set official neighborhood boundaries, but the Pioneer Square zone is roughly bordered by Alaskan Way S/Occidental Ave S; S Royal Brougham Way; 4th Avenue S; and a little north of Yesler Way.  More on that later.

In April, 2011, the Seattle City Council ratified new building heights for South Downtown. Addressing concerns that area development was not keeping pace with the rest of the city, hopes were that the new height limits would spur construction and stimulate growth.  It got a little heated when the talk came to Pioneer Square. 

Developers and the Downtown Seattle Association wanted heights up to 180 feet (18 stories if you calculate 10 feet per story).  Preservationists argued that this would be way too high, and radically alter the face of Pioneer Square (also on the National Register of Historic Places).  Preservationists further stated that increased heights in surrounding neighborhoods would still draw people to Pioneer Square without threatening its culture and character.

Compromise was made.  Zoned as Pioneer Square Mixed, buildings may go as high as 100 feet as long as they’re not more than 15 feet taller than the adjacent buildings.  Some areas could rise to 120 feet (without the 15-foot restriction) when certain provisions were met. Part of the entire new South Downtown rezoning plan, these provisions include: Affordable Housing; Historic Preservation; Public Safety; Parking; Economic Development; and Walkability. 

Click on this Pioneer Square Zoning Maps link for a comparison of past and present zoning areas.  If you’d like a lot more detail, check out this City of Seattle Zoning map link, Areas 115 and 116.

pio sq bldgThe City’s recent focus on Pioneer Square began in June 2010 when it released a plan called Pioneer Square 2015, A Strategy for Seattle’s First Neighborhood. This link points to how we’re doing one year later

More changes are occurring to encourage growth in the area.  The City is now laying conduit under First Avenue for fiber-optic broadband internet, and Comcast has been selected as the service provider. Access begins in September. 

Businesses are giving Pioneer Square a second look, and moving in!  Two examples are Onehub, specializing in file sharing resources, arriving from Bellevue and Jones Soda, currently at South Lake Union, relocating near CenturyLink Field.

DSCF0373Pioneer Square’s legacy is important to the history of Seattle.  On the historical side, the Trail to Treasure was introduced in May, 2011.  Its goal is to bring the story of Seattle’s beginning to life through a walking tour of Pioneer Square.  There’s still much to do to complete the full project, but you can currently hit a number of stops (and some side trips) that helped shape the history and development of Pioneer Square, and Seattle/Puget Sound itself.  Pick up a free map at the Cadillac Hotel (which is also a national park) at 319 Second Avenue S, or you can download it here.

The Alliance for Pioneer Square is dedicated to promoting Pioneer Square’s history and its local/tourist destination. The Seattle Square, in Occidental Park, will run through the fall.  This outdoor market operates on Thursdays from 4:00-9:00 p.m with vintage and craft vendors, plus a rotation of food vendors and music.  Finally, catch Pioneer Square’s monthly First Thursday Art Walk.  This is the oldest and largest ArtWalk in Seattle, ongoing for nearly 30 years.

We’ll continue to keep you informed as Pioneer Square evolves—in both body, and soul.

Seminar on June 28th: “Finding a Way with Your IRA”

June 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Uncategorized


Planning retirement in the next five years?  Looking to eventually downsize to a condo in the city?

If you answered “yes” to either of the above questions then you shouldn’t miss this free informative event on leveraging your IRA (Individual Retirement Account) by investing in today’s opportunistic real estate market, while also securing your future.

Did You Know?

  • Your self-directed IRA can buy income property with before-tax dollars – rent it out and move into it when you retire
  • Demand for rental housing in the city is skyrocketing – experts expect 25-30% increases in rent over the next five years
  • The condo supply pipeline has been pinched, resulting in a dearth of new inventory until at least 2015 – the best selection and values are available now
  • You can obtain financing on your IRA purchase securing today’s unprecedented low rates for the future while building positive cash flow in the interim

Presented by Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, a panel of experts has been assembled to explore myths and facts with using IRA’s for income property, to discuss available financing options, and the review the overall housing marketing in downtown Seattle.

Here’s the details:

Finding a Way with Your IRA” – Investing in Today’s Condo Market for Tomorrow’s Retirement

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 from 6:00pm – 8:30pm

The Hyatt at Olive 8 – 1635 8th Avenue – Downtown Seattle

Keynote Speaker – Tom Kelly, Syndicated Real Estate Columnist & Author

Self Directed IRA’s – David Nilssen, Guidant Financial

IRA Financing – Larry Enselman, Pacific Crest Savings Bank

Market Watch – Dean Jones, Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty

Admission is free

“We recognize there’s a growing opportunity for pre‐retirees to take advantage of today’s real estate opportunities by purchasing condominiums, renting them out with positive cash flow and then either holding them as an income property in their IRA or redeeming that asset as either a principal residence or second home in the future,” said Dean Jones, Principal of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “The stars may be aligned downtown. We’re bringing in leading opinions to explore this investment strategy and welcome interested consumers and real estate brokers to view the interactive presentation and join the panel discussion.”

RSVP to 206.448.5752 or send an email to

See you there!

May is for Maritime – Big Waterfront Events

May 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Uncategorized