The Waterfront Seattle project’s February 17th public meeting was expected to bring out only 100-150 attendees, but a whopping 960 turned out for the event, filling all areas of the Seattle Aquarium plus a tent set up outside.
With a theme of “What Makes a Good Waterfront?”, it was pretty clear by the end of the presentation that how to develop the Central Waterfront will be a Seattle hot -button for some years to come. Lead Designer James Corner of james corner field operations was the keynote speaker. They are most renowned for designing High Line, an urban park set on top of an old railroad structure in New York. This link to a recent AIA Seattle article contains interviews with the principals involved.
Along with questionnaires asking for audience opinions of what they want/don’t want in a waterfront, Corner’s firm is also working with up to ten different groups, or Stakeholders, for their input. They are, in order of presentation:
Neighbors: representatives from all Central Seattle neighborhoods plus Magnolia and West Seattle
Entrepreneurs: includes for-profit and nonprofit developers plus startup companies
Business Owners: Waterfront venues, Pike Place Market, Seattle Chamber of Commerce
Commuters: car ferries, motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians
Greens: nature experts, environmentalists plus those concerned with salmon and wildlife
Shippers & Builders: Port of Seattle plus shipping industries
Tribes: Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Duwamish
Visitors: includes tourism venues, hotels, Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau
Creatives: involved with Arts and Culture, plus Seattle Parks and Recreation
Sports Teams: Mariners and Seahawks organizations
Corner acknowledged there have been struggles for all parties to come to a consensus in forming a plan regarding the Waterfront, but is positive that differences will be resolved. We only hope the Stakeholders remember the overlying theme of “A Waterfront for All”, and that all factions will need to do some give and take in order to do what’s best for the City of Seattle.
Waterfront Seattle spans 26 blocks, running from Olympic Sculpture Park (Broad Street) to the sports stadiums (King Street area). Redevelopment will take approximately eight years to complete. This waterfront timeline shows the schedules for the Waterfront, Elliott Bay Seawall Project, and the proposed SR99 Bored Tunnel projects.
Another public meeting will be scheduled in May where a first draft of the Central Waterfront design should be ready for review. We plan to attend that, so stay tuned.
You can follow Waterfront Seattle’s progress, and can still voice your opinions. Click on the City of Seattle’s new Waterfront site. Select “Answer” to “What Makes a Great Waterfront?” to provide your own ideas. Choose the video link to watch the full 76-minute presentation of February 17th, produced by the Seattle Channel. You’ll find tapings of past meetings and presentations here as well. Finally, waterfrontseattle.org also has links in Facebook and Twitter.
We are currently experiencing a bumper crop of new and existing property changes in Seattle, and receiving national notice as well. Let’s go through the latest on the commercial side:
7th & Madison: Nine stories, 204,000 square feet, zero tenants! But that may be changing. Rumors are that HAL Real Estate and Urban Renaissance Group have purchased the property and The Polyclinic may become the primary tenant.
818 Stewart St: DCI Engineers took advantage of their expiring lease in Bellevue’s Skyline Tower to move, occupying 16,000 square feet on 818 Stewarts’s tenth floor by the end of November. A caveat is that DCI was the structural engineer of this building and will now be able to show their work, onsite, to potential clients. Although 55 employees will be relocating to work in Seattle, DCI will still maintain a presence in Bellevue and is looking for other space. 818 Stewart has 14 stories, 238,000 square feet, and is 86 percent leased.
1301 Second Ave: Tacoma’s largest private employer, Russell Investments, bought the former 42-story WaMu Center on Second Avenue in 2009 and moved in 900 employees this fall. What’s next for the company? An outdoor sign! In the works is an amendment to the City’s Land Use Code (Title 23) “to allow placement of wall identification signs in certain downtown zones on buildings at heights above sixty-five feet when tenants have a lease in effect for a minimum of 200,000 square feet of floor area in a single building.” The City would still retain sign design approval.
1321 Seneca St: Owned at the time by the now-defunct Barclays North of Lake Stevens, plans had been to turn this quarter-block of property into a 24-story tower. Now a parking lot, its bank group recently put it up for sale. Happily, representatives are now fielding queries from interested buyers at better than anticipated prices. A sale is expected by year-end or by early 2011.
1501 E Madison St: The former home of CC Attle’s bar is undergoing a bit of transformation. The Bullitt Foundation is going to turn the space into a six-floor, 52,000 square foot building called the Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design and Construction. Its goal is to be a “living building”, designed to satisfy all its energy, waste and water needs onsite. It will headquarter Bullitt, plus provide office and commercial space for companies involved in the green building industry. It also plans to position itself as a focal point for education and sustainable development awareness. Construction begins this winter, scheduled to be completed in early 2012.
224 Westlake Ave N: The former Athletic Supply building was recently sold to Northwest Retail Partners. Built in 1926, plans are underway to remodel the entire 32,000 square foot building, plus add a fifth floor penthouse. The penthouse will house Northwest Retail’s offices, and NRP plans to lease out the rest of the building.
On the national front, the Urban Land Institute, in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers, performs surveys and interviews with over 875 real estate investors on the country’s top 50 markets, then releases annual rankings and forecasts. For 2011, they ranked the Seattle Metropolitan area at No. 6 for commercial and multifamily investments. When you take into context that Seattle was ranked No. 1 in 2009 and dropped to No. 8 in 2010, the climb back up is great news! There’s more to come, and we’ll keep in touch.
Nissan’s first zero-emission, all-electric car, the Nissan LEAF, will be hitting Seattle streets in December. And where will you plug them in? In August 2009, a $99.8 million goverment grant to Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation (eTec) was awarded to set up electric car networks in five cities nationwide. Seattle’s portion will be used to set up around 2,550 charging systems, enabling drivers to use electric vehicles throughout the region with the security of knowing a charging station is nearby. AND, under this program, LEAF buyers will also be offered a free 220-volt charging station for home use, similar to the power level you’d use to run your dryer.
With an agreement between local goverments and Nissan North American in place, both Seattle and King County are working to get these cars into their carpools, as well as encouraging buyers to get them on the streets. Zipcar users both public and with the city will be able to drive a LEAF, too, because Zipcar is also an eTec program partner.
Plug-in locations are still being determined throughout King County, but currently scheduled for setup in Seattle are as follows:
Central Library Parking Garage- 4 stations
Fauntleroy Ferry Dock- 6 stations
King Street Center- 8 stations
Pacific Place Parking Garage- 5 stations
Pike Place- 2 stations
SeaPark Garage – 6 stations
Seattle Center, 5th Ave Parking Garage- 5 stations
UW Foster School of Business- 1 station
The LEAF is a five-passenger hatchback with sporty handling that can go about 100 miles on an eight-hour charge. At current Seattle City Light electric rates, the LEAF would cost approximately $200 to drive 10,000 miles, or around 2 cents a mile. With the same scenario, a gas-powered vehicle based on 25 mpg would cost approximately $1,220, at $3.05 per gallon. One hears about the high cost of purchasing an electric car, but the LEAF is scheduled to be priced in the range of a typical family sedan. And, you’ll be able to set your mobile phone to activate the air conditioning and the charging performance wirelessly.
If you’d like to take the future out for a spin today, Nissan is sponsoring a test drive in Tukwila from Friday through Sunday, November 12th – 14th. Register ahead of time at https://www.drivenissanleaf.com, select Events in the left column, then Seattle, and a registration form will pop up. Allow around 60-90 minutes for the test drive. If you want to go on a first-come, first-serve basis, the event takes place at Westfield Southcenter in the parking lot area north of Macy’s. Hours on Friday and Saturday are from 7am – 5pm, and Sunday from 8am- 4pm.
Representatives of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty unveiled the opening of its Residential & Resort Showroom at 2715 1st Avenue in downtown Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. Mike Good, chief executive officer of Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates, LLC and Dean Jones, managing member of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty addressed guests during a private reception last night; declaring expansion plans throughout the Pacific Rim and noting Seattle as a critical gateway to the United States.
CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty® Brand Announcement of Pacific Rim Expansion Plans at Reception
“The Residential & Resort Showroom in Seattle is a tremendous accomplishment and represents the caliber of companies that we’re attracting to our expanding global network,” said Good. “Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty is well positioned for growth as we open new offices in the Pacific Rim such as Hong Kong and Japan but also because Seattle is a major feeder market for our resort properties in the U.S., Mexico and the Americas.”
The Seattle real estate market has held up better than most metro areas in the U.S. in part due to increasing demand from out-of-town consumers, according to Jones. “About a quarter of our sales transactions are to relocating or second home buyers purchasing from outside the state or internationally – we can’t ignore this market channel,” said Jones. “We believe this trend will increase as global companies based in the Seattle area draw employees to the region and as second home buyers discover the Pacific Northwest over other West Coast markets. It’s contributing to market stabilization at all price points in the city.”
Jones adds that many of his clients are also prone to buy investment and vacation properties elsewhere. “We now specialize in sun, surf and snow destinations by making direct referrals to our affiliates in key resort markets. Our agents’ reach extends well beyond Seattle’s city limits,” he said.
The brokerage, owned by Dean and Stacy Jones of Realogics, Inc., and Sam Cunningham as the designated broker has grown considerably since acquiring the Sotheby’s International Realty franchise on February 23, 2010. In addition to Co-Founding Directors Moira Holley and James Stroupe, the firm has welcomed Chris Longfelder Doucet, Connie Blumenthal, Erik Moris, Melanie McCarthy and Cybele Walsh to the international realty network.
Today Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty is comprised of 23 agents representing approximately 200 listings and more than $225 million in inventory throughout in the greater Seattle area and beyond. The company also represents buyers citing local market expertise and effective negotiation skills. Recently, an out-of-state couple working with Moira Holley purchased a $9.25 million listing for $6.25 million – one of the largest transactions recorded for a non-waterfront property in King County since 2007, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Good and Jon Meschke, VP of Affiliate Services at Realogy – Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates, LLC both noted Holley and Stroupe as being key players to the success of Realogics Sothebys’ in the greater Seattle area through their innovative marketing strategies.
“Our unique marketing platform has helped us attract clients and top-producing agents alike,” says Cunningham. “They seek every advantage available in today’s marketplace and we offer unparalleled reach both in-store and online. We’re proud to be affiliated with one of the world’s most established brand names as we represent exceptional properties of all product types and price points in our new retail gallery.”
In addition to real estate, the Residential and Resort Showroom also showcases international art in a partnership with Sun Valley-based Gallery DeNovo. The 3,500 sq. ft. retail space features artists from around the world and will host monthly events that range from real estate market updates to art walks and wine tastings. The showroom opens to the public on Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 10am. Guests may register to receive newsletters and event information at www.RealogicsSothebysRealty.com.
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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:
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
It was very interesting on how this news got around the other day as we pointed out the other day in a previous post. Today the official press release was…released. Here it is.
Condo Powerhouses Williams Marketing, Inc and MCM Group Collaborate to Create Matrix Real Estate—the Largest Condominium and Townhome Sales and Marketing Firm in Washington
SEATTLE, WASH. — December 3, 2009 — Today, Seattle-based residential real estate marketing and sales firms MCM Group and Williams Marketing, Inc announced the joint creation of a new company, Matrix Real Estate. With the most experienced professional sales staff in the region and listings valued at more than $300 million, Matrix will become the largest real estate firm dedicated to condominium and townhome sales and marketing in Washington.
The Matrix team will be spearheaded by partners Leslie Williams, founder of Williams Marketing, Inc, and Mike Miller and Chaun Mackey, co-founders of MCM Group. Mackey will also serve as the president of Matrix and will oversee the day-to-day operations of the company. MCM Group and Williams Marketing, Inc will merge both companies’ talent, resources and employees into Matrix.
“This exciting collaboration means we will be able to provide our clients with the combined strength, broad knowledge and long-term experience necessary to excel in the current market and be well-positioned to capitalize on future opportunities,” Williams said. “We see Matrix Real Estate as a pace setter in this new chapter of the Seattle real estate market.”
Since 2005, Williams Marketing, Inc and MCM Group have each closed more than $1 billion in sales. Williams and Miller continue to provide developer and lender clients with unparalleled experience—offering services from site selection and product design consultation through construction, strategic pricing and marketing strategies. As Matrix, the firm will specialize in sales and marketing for condominiums, townhomes and high-rise communities in urban and suburban locations throughout the greater Puget Sound region and beyond.
In addition, the company will offer a rare combination of consumer-targeted capabilities with services for private resale clients and buyers as well as sellers of new construction and conversion condominium properties and townhome communities—a mix unique to the Seattle market. This consumer-focused approach will position Matrix as a one-stop-shop for homebuyers and sellers—whether they are looking to buy or sell an individual property or addressing the strategic marketing and sales needs of a larger project or community.
“This new relationship may come as a surprise to some because as staunch competitors for more than a decade, we were also each other’s most admired competitors; Williams Marketing, Inc and MCM Group have each had a formidable presence in the marketplace,” Miller said. “But as Matrix, we can now offer our sellers the strength of our collaborative partnership. When a seller hires Matrix, they’ll have me, Leslie, Chaun along with an entire team of seasoned professionals working collaboratively on the sales and marketing strategy.”
As leaders in the condominium and townhome sales and marketing industry, Matrix will represent some of the largest sellers and projects in the region including Vulcan Real Estate’s Enso and Veer Lofts communities in South Lake Union and Pryde + Johnson’s Hjarta project in Ballard, as well as its Florera project in Green Lake.
“The combination of MCM Group and Williams Marketing, Inc will give an unprecedented market share to Matrix,” said local real estate economist Matthew Gardner, principal at Gardner Economics, LLC. “No other real estate company in the Puget Sound region has the breadth of experience that Matrix will be able to offer to its clients.”
Suzie Langford, will be the vice president and broker of Matrix Real Estate while Kim Sharpe Jones will serve as vice president of marketing and Sera Venis will serve as the controller. For more information about Matrix, visit www.matrixrealestate.com.
We first recognized Matt’s blog post after checking it out from seeing Ben’s status update on Facebook which was simply a retweet of Susan’s from about 3 hours ago. Two of the largest real estate marketing companies (MCM and Williams) are merging. Although their agents will be under a company named Matrix Real Estate, we’ve been told that MCM and Williams will continue to use their current brands.
MCM tends to have most of their clientele in more surburban neighborhoods, and Williams has made a good name for themselves in the more urban neighborhoods. If the two companies plan on being “the ONE”, merging may be a good for them–especially since new construction has pretty much stopped and sales have been slim.
A recent article in the Seattle Times featured an article about a graphic designer who has felt quite a bit of stress over the fear of “losing everything”. The article also stated that anxiety, depression, and stress are becoming somewhat of an epidemic. In the same article, the Times reported that an Ipsos tracking poll found 52 percent of Americans now think the U.S. economy has stabilized, compared to the 35% who felt that way four weeks ago. Apparently, only one in three now feel that the worst is yet to come, while last month the percentage was at 57 percent!
Therefore, we wanted to start a consumer confidence poll for the downtown Seattle area which you can find to the right of our blog->
Each week starting next Friday, we’ll reset the poll and also update the questions so that it’s more relevant to the overall feeling of consumers and thier confidence. This week, we just want to see what type of market you feel we’re in right now.
The sky is falling, the sky is falling!
Forbes too is now reporting some interesting data regarding Seattle’s real estate market. The Urban Land Insitute (nonprofit research and education organization) asked 700 professionals in the real estate industry to recognize what areas were the best to invest in for commercial space. Seattle was recognized as being #1 despite the loss of WAMU and downsizing of Starbucks. The article also made sure to make mention of the residential market, since it’s typically driven by increased wages and unemployment.
The best cities in which to invest are those that are considered gateways to international investment, have vital downtowns where people can forgo cars and don’t have a glut of condos or office space.
Seattle is “a diversified market, has a good base of business and is becoming a 24-hour city,” says Stephen Blank, senior resident fellow, finance, at the Urban Land Institute. “It’s going to be in a good position to come back.”
#2 – San Francisco
#3 – Washington D.C.
#4 – New York
#5 – Los Angeles
Finally, the good news that we’ve been pushing since we started blogging is making headway! So, for those of you considering the sale of property; hang in there. Buyers who are thinking of buying; it’s time to get in gear if you still want to take care of what is currently, “a down market.”
Smart Money Magazine featured an article last month titled, “Home Prices: Now for the Good News.” The article recognizes Seattle as one that is more than likely to resist a flood of foreclosures and short sales due to the areas well-paying employers such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Boeing. Another interesting number they reported was from Zillow which states that only 11.5% of homeowners who have recently purchased have negative equity.
However, the article does point out that a couple of once known as “sure thing” neighborhoods such as Queen Anne and Redmond are taking a hit, while sleeping giants like West Seattle is making it’s mark.
…many residents simply bike 20 minutes to jobs downtown. On weekends the relative seclusion means the 2.5-mile Alki Beach promenade along Elliott Bay doesn’t get too crowded. As long as people like great views of water, mountains and city skylines