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Pioneer Square: Body and Soul

July 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Land Use, Lifestyle

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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.

South Lake Union – Before, and Which After?

April 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Land Use, NBBJ

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slu alternativesLast week we ran a story regarding the public meeting on March 28th which focused on the City of Seattle’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the South Lake Union Height Alternatives, outlining four Alternatives, or plans, for the future development of South Lake Union (planning for the next 25 years and beyond).  The Draft EIS was compiled by the City’s Department of Planning and Development.  We stayed for 35 minutes of the public commentary and during that time, most of the speakers advocated Alternative One, which offers the greatest height and density zoning.

You can hit this link, select the Draft EIS plan, then go to Section 3.10, Aesthethics, and see how all the Alternatives stack up visually. Draw your own conclusions as to what you think would be best for South Lake Union.  Our attachment here only focuses on the Alternative 1 scenario, but it presents some compelling visions as to the full potential of SLU.  slu alt 1 graphics print

How the Alternatives differ:

Alternative 1 – outlines the greatest potential for height and density increases for commercial and residential development

Alternative 2 – mid-point between Alternatives 1 and 3, it contains lesser height and density increases for commercial and residential development

Alternative 3 – provides the least potential for height and density increases, and only cover residential  development

Alternative 4—“no action”, retaining existing zoning, and no height increase incentives

Finally, two things that all the Alternatives will share: it was stated during the March 28th meeting that there will be no changes to current shoreline designations, and that views to designated South Lake Union viewpoints would not be obstructed.

If you would like to read more about any of these Alternatives, please go to the full Draft EIS on this link.  It’s 659 pages long, but the document is also broken out by sections.   The DOPD engaged a number of consultants to help prepare the Draft EIS, and the Alternatives renderings shown here and in the Draft EIS were done by NBBJ, which worked on aesthetics, light/glare, shadows and viewshed for this project.

Finally, if you have comments or opinions, good or bad, about which Alternative to select– or about anything else covered in the Draft EIS, send an email to jim.holmes@seattle.gov no later than Monday, April 11. After that, the DOPD will commence work on a Final EIS, which should be finished this summer.  We’ll let you know when that report is released.

Map: USGS, 1897– from the Draft EIS

South Lake Union – What the People Said

March 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Land Use

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People had a LOT to say at a March 28th meeting sponsored by the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development.  Held at Unity Church in South Lake Union, around 200 attendees learned about, and provided, inital feedback on SLU’s future– as currently outlined on 659 pages.

slu roadSouth Lake Union was first designated as an Urban Center in 2004, and since then the City has been working on a 25-year plan to fully utilize the area’s potential. Its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the South Lake Union Height Alternatives addresses plans to:

  • Develop a more diverse and attractive community with a mix of housing types and land uses, plus defined building types and heights.
  • Use height and density increases to meet other goals such as increased affordable housing and open space, plus public benefits through incentive zoning.
  • Enhance street-level pedestrian quality with public view corridors and retail activities.
  • Provide a full transportation system including street networks, transit and non-motorized travel. 
  • Maintain utility systems (electrical, water, sewer and storm drains).
  • Ensure adequate zoned development capacity for long-term growth.

slu militaryDisplay boards highlighted the four Alternatives, or plans, as outlined in the Draft EIS. Attendees discussed the Alternatives with DOPD staff members and consultants.   A presentation by the City followed, explaining how the Draft EIS will work as a tool for the City and its residents to assess the pros and cons of each Alternative.  You can find the plan on this link.  We stayed for the first 35 minutes of commentary (two minutes per person).  Most of those speakers seemed to have read the Draft EIS from cover to cover.

The first stated that 50% of new city populations develop in Urban Centers, and South Lake Union is the most expandable (Seattle) area to accommodate that.

slu streetcarA rep from the construction sector was very enthusiastic about the possibilities of South Lake Union development.  He commented that it’s very flat, very buildable– a real opportunity to build for the future, with a focus on its growing industries such as UofW Research, Fred Hutchinson, and amazon.com.  A restaurant owner later stated that strong residential growth keeps small businesses thriving, too.

Another speaker was dismayed to detect negativity in the Draft EIS, which she felt didn’t expand on the qualities that South Lake Union has and could have. She was also adamant that she and her Gen Y peers would not live in “a city full of Pete Seeger’s Little Boxes on the Hillside” (actually written by Malvina Reynolds).

draft eis 2Most of the speakers, including a surprising number of residents, supported Alternative 1, which carries the greatest height and density levels.  They were tempered by concerns that the Draft EIS made little or no mention of public transportation and services other than police and fire (worries about those, too).  They said it didn’t seem to address families with children, and there was no mention of plans for schools.

Although Alternative 1 was a clear choice among those we heard, others wanted to ensure the City would strive to retain a strong cross-section of residents. We paraphrase one speaker who said she’d “rather have a good mix of 27,000 instead of an 18,000 mix of millionaires.”

Since Alternative 1 was so popular, we’ll provide more details on it in a few days.  To comment on the Draft EIS, send an email to jim.holmes@seattle.gov by Monday, April 11th, the last day for public input. After that, they’ll begin work on a Final EIS for summer release.  We’ll let you know when.

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South Lake Union Changes: Good? Bad? Your Call

March 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Land Use

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What do the words “height”, “density”, “commercial” and “residential” all have in common?  They’re all a major part of the plans to reshape the South Lake Union neighborhood.  Changes of all kinds are coming to this area–  and you can hear all about it on Monday evening.

Draft EIS note: "Source: South Lake Union Urban Center Neighborhood Plan, 2007"

Draft EIS note: "Source: South Lake Union Urban Center Neighborhood Plan, 2007"

First, let’s look at the definition of the South Lake Union Urban Center as determined by the City:  SLU covers nearly 340 acres and is located in the center of the City of Seattle.  Geographical boundaries are the Lake Union Shoreline to the north, Denny Way to the south, Interstate 5 to the east and Aurora Avenue to the west.  Adjoining neighborhoods place SLU north of Downtown, with Capitol Hill to the east and Uptown to the west.  The City went deeper into its SLU definition by identifying six “neighborhoods”, referred to as Dexter, Denny Park, Waterfront, Westlake, Fairview and Cascade.  The map to the right roughly outlines these areas.

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the South Lake Union Height Alternatives was written by the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development.  You can find the plan on this link.  Review it in the sections they have outlined instead of all at once… the full Draft EIS is 659 pages long.  It’s a pretty dense report, as you can imagine, so if you’d rather cut to the chase, here’s some highlights.  The Draft EIS addresses:

  • A more diverse and attractive community by providing a mix of housing types and  land uses, plus defined building types and heights.
  • Using height and density increases to help meet other neighborhood goals such as increased affordable housing and open space, plus other public benefits through incentive zoning.
  • Enhancing street-level pedestrian quality with public view corridors and retail activities .
  • Accommodating growth while maintaining a transportation system of street networks, transit and non-motorized travel. 
  • Maintaining utility systems including electrical, water, sewer and storm drain systems.
  • Ensuring adequate zoned development capacity for long-term growth.

draft eis 2There is no master plan for South Lake Union – yet.  Monday’s meeting will cover four initial ideas called Alternatives.  They’re defined as follows:

Alternative 1 – outlines the greatest potential for height and density increases for commercial and residential development

Alternative 2 – mid-point between Alternatives 1 and 3, it contains lesser height and density increases for commercial and residential development

Alternative 3 – provides the least potential for height and density increases, and only deals with  residential  development

Alternative 4—“no action”, retaining existing zoning, and no height increase incentives

We pulled an attachment out of the Draft EIS which better outlines how the Alternatives stack up the various areas of planning.  You can open it here:  slu draft eis alternatives

draft eis 3To learn more about the City’s plans for South Lake Union, come to a public meeting exploring the Draft EIS on Monday, March 28th, at Unity Church, 200 Eighth Avenue N in downtown Seattle.  The meeting will start around 5:30 p.m.  with an Open House, where City staff and the consultants will be available for questions. The public comment portion of the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.  Can’t make it?  Don’t worry.  We’ll be there, and we’ll follow up with a report on the evening’s events.

Another date to keep in mind is April 11th.  This will be the last day you’ll be able to provide comments to the City.  From there, they’ll review all the input and start work on the Final South Lake Union EIS.

We’ll keep in touch as the South Lake Union plans progress.

Open House: 8309 24th Avenue, Ballard

March 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Land Use

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8309 24th Ave (Ballard), Seattle

4 Bedroom, 2 Bath

$455,000

MLS #  173321

Sunday, March 6th, 2011 ~ Open from 1 to 4 p.m.

Your Host is Jim Stroupe

206.910.5000 ~ james@stroupe.com

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Nestled in a wonderful Ballard neighborhood, this 4 bedroom, 2 bath home is where modern living meets old-fashioned romance.  You’ll find a number of beautiful touches throughout, including hardwood floors, crown molding and wainscoting.  Large picture windows let in plenty of light.  AND, check out that fireplace in the top photo! 

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The main rooms are generous in size, with entranceways easily flowing from one room into another.  The light-filled corner kitchen features tiled countertops, oak cabinets and an informal eating area. 

Of course, there’s more.  The basement is fully finished and carpeted, perfect for a family room, play area, or even a man cave.  And, the fenced backyard is perfect for pets, outdoor entertaining, or to just hang out.  A new, energy-efficient furnace completes the package. 

Own a piece of the classic American dream.  This home has endless potential, a place where special memories are waiting to be made.   Come see us on Sunday!  If you’re unable to make it, just drop us a line at urgent@stroupe.com to arrange for your own private tour.

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Waterfront Seattle’s Meeting of the Minds – All of Them

February 20, 2011 by  
Filed under City of Seattle, Featured, Land Use

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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.

Seattle-Aquarium-04With 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

waterfront walkCorner 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. 

waterfront pierYou 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.

Bellevue Towers – Smooth Sailing in a New Direction

February 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Land Use, Puget Sound Region

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Over the first few days of January, news broke that Bellevue Towers, the Eastside’s largest condominium development, was avoiding foreclosure by transferring ownership of all its unsold units back to its lenders. Six weeks later, we thought we’d check in to see how things were going.  We are happy to report that things are going well!

Here’s a quick history:  Portland-based developer Gerding Edlen began the Bellevue Towers project in January 2007, the majority of funding coming from a consortium of lenders led by Morgan Stanley.  This 1.25 million sq ft complex is comprised of two 42 and 43-story towers containing a combined number of 539 condo units, plus 16,000 sq ft of ground-floor retail space, all located at 106th Ave NE and NE 4th St in downtown Bellevue. 

By early 2008, one-third of the units were presold… then came the financial freefall that September.  When Bellevue Towers was ready for occupancy in early 2009, many presold buyers either couldn’t or wouldn’t close—just in time for the consortium loan to mature. The consortium started picking up the bills shortly thereafter, until word came out in January 2011 that with only 118 of 539 units sold, all remaining inventory was going back to the consortium in order for Bellevue Towers to get a better financial footing and a fresh start.

BT_ExteriorWith cuts averaging 30 percent off original pricing, it seems that the new direction is taking off.  As of February 14th, 26 units have either been sold or are pending, 13 are in the offer stage, and 10 others have strong buyer interest.  And, as we were speaking with them, one of those 10 with strong interest was being written up as an offer!  More telling, however, is Bellevue Tower’s traffic.  In January, 783 interested buyers came through the complex, the best turnout since the entire run of the project!

Bellevue Towers has much to offer.  It features a wide range of views from Mount Rainier, to Lake Washington, to the Olympic Mountains.  You’ll get spacious interiors with high ceilings, glass window walls, high-end appliances and finish materials of sustainable hardwoods and stones. Speaking of sustainable, Bellevue Towers was the first residential high-rise in Bellevue to receive LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.  

Bellevue Towers’ amenities include a fitness center and spa, dining room, screening room, reading room, and a grand room for entertaining and events.  Its ground floor level contains shops and restaurants including Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, Barrio and Lot No. 3.   Bellevue Square is a short walk away, with easy commutes to Microsoft’s main campus and Downtown Seattle. 

Bellevue Towers has graciously supplied us with the latest pricing list link that you can access below.  They are subject to change, so if you’re interested in more information on Bellevue Towers, or in scheduling a private tour, please contact us at this Stroupe Group link.   

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SLU Urban Design Framework Complete – Come Celebrate!

February 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Land Use, Lifestyle

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The South Lake Union Urban Design Framework (UDF) is completed and you’re invited to join the party!  Sponsored by the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development, it’ll be held on Tuesday evening, February 8th from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Cascade People’s Center, located at 309 Pontius Ave N (cross is Thomas Street and two blocks west of Eastlake Ave E) in South Lake Union.

slu roadThe UDF is a collaboration among South Lake Union’s neighbors, City staff and design professionals.  Their goal is to establish a shared design vision and implementation strategy for the future of the SLU neighborhood.  Recommendations range from specific actions, such as creating a new community center at Denny Park; to broader strategies using building form and land use controls to create and maintain an active and inviting lakefront.

Key elements of the UDF include recommendations to create community gateways signifying entrance into distinct neighborhoods; developing neighborhood ‘hearts’ to serve as focal points of the neighborhood for people to gather and interact; and, to develop a network of great streets including green streets and festival streets.

rsz_park_cover_(640x480)Finally, the UDF will complement the City’s soon-to-be released Draft Environmental Impact Statement studying potential increases in height and density in the neighborhood.  Together, these documents will guide zoning code changes, design guidelines, infrastructure investments, streetscape planning, and a variety of other programs and policies shaping the public realm of South Lake Union.

The UDF is available online.  You’ll find it on the DPD website by clicking onto this link. It’s a 40 page .pdf file so it may take awhile to download.  And don’t forget to join the UDF Completion Celebration on Tuesday, February 8th at Cascade People’s Center from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.!

Residential RE: Is Business Really Booming?

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There’s been much news lately that residential construction is roaring back!  But is there too much going on too quickly—and will all these projects really materialize?  And what is this telling us about the condominium market?  Here are some of the latest projects in the pipeline:

311 Cedar St:  The former Musician’s Building is now gone, with work underway on The Alto, a 17-story, 184-unit high-rise with 2,700 sq ft of retail space.  The project is scheduled for completion in early 2012.

504 Terry Ave & 1106 East Jefferson St:  The once-proposed Harbor Vista project from now-bankrupt Mastro Properties just got a new owner– an LLC out of San Francisco.  Rumors are that the property will be developed into a residential/retail complex.

888 Western Ave:  Goodman Real Estate’s original plans for an office building have changed to a 16-story residential building with 208 units with 9,907 sq ft of retail, plus 8,300 sq ft of recreation/public plaza space. 

1430 Second Ave (Second & Pike):   Urban Visions’ hotel and condominium plan have changed to a 440 foot, 35-story LEED-certified building of 290 apartments and 14,850 sq ft of retail and restaurant space, which includes a “Sky Bar” and restaurant overlooking Pike Place Market.  

1623 Bellevue Ave:  Proposed is a six-story building with 23 residential units and 1,000 sq ft of retail. 

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2116 Fourth Ave – located next to the Cinerama, the proposed tower will have 357 units, 2,700 sq ft of ground-level retail. 

2625 Third Ave – The current site of the American Lung Association is slated to make way for a 19-story building with 204 units above 4,000 sq ft of retail space.

Second and Bell  – Bell 206, a 122-unit apartment complex,  is expected to break ground in January.

Eighth and Seneca  –  A recent financial deal has been reached to hang onto this site, where a twin tower project containing 280 units is in development.

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Market Street and 14th Ave (Ballard):  Replacing Sunset Bowl will be Avalon Ballard, a 271-unit apartment complex. Construction scheduled to begin in Summer 2011.

Market Street Landing (15th Ave NW and NW Market, Ballard):  Equity Residential, an S&P 500 company specializing in apartments, condominiums and corporate housing, purchased the 1.4 acre site in October 2010. 

5711 24th Ave NW, Ballard:  Replacing the old Ballard Library will be Ballard West.  Currently scheduled to start construction in the summer, it’s planned to have 107 apartments, three live-work units and 6,500 sq ft of retail.

200 – 106th Ave NE (Bellevue):  Soma Towers is a proposed two-tower project –  Tower One at 23 stories high with 142 units, and Tower Two at 17 stories high with 124 units.   

With few construction events over the past several years, current vacancies are lower and rents are higher, making residential construction promising again.  Recently reported was Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors’ latest forecast that 2,500 units will open in the tri-county area in 2011, with an additional 14,600 units possibly opening between 2012 and 2015. This concurs with opinions recently reported from Apartment Insights.  They predict a tight market from mid-2011 into 2012, bringing on significant rent increases.  

However, just because start or completion dates are announced doesn’t mean they’ll actually happen.  One of the items on our residential list first hit the presses in 2007. After inactivity since 2008, another project is now up and running, but still needs to apply for building permits.  We listed a property which sources tell us is a go, but is currently stalled and looking shaky for a start anytime soon.

The glitch?  Money.  Lending institutions now require a project’s net operating income to be profitable based on current, not projected, rents.  Plus, developers have to put up more of their own money.  Before the recession, developers only needed to contribute 15 percent equity.  Debt coverage ratios (net operating income divided by debt services) of 1.25 or better are now required. This pushes equity contributions to rates between 25 to 35, even up to 40 percent.  A number of developers now need to seek equity partners – if they can find them.  Equity partners were recession victims, too.

The Outlook for Condominium Development?

With current debt coverage ratios applying here as well, there’s nothing in the pipeline regarding new construction.  But as apartment development explodes, we predict that if the condo market picks up as well, they’ll look at apartment buildings to fill demand.  We’ve seen this pattern in the Seattle housing market before.  Both Belltown Court and The Klee Lofts started out as apartment complexes.  And, as condo demand increases, former condo projects which converted to apartments over the past couple of years may return to being condos again.  We think one of the first to turn back may be Bellevue’s The Bravern, which announced that intent when they converted both towers from condos into apartments in 2010. Equinox and Rollin Street Flats were once condominiums, too. 

However, the recession has made for reluctant homebuyers. What will the potential glut of rentals really do for the conversion market this time around?  Will more potential buyers simply remain permanent renters?  We think it’ll depend on what a buyer wants in the long run.  Predictions are that a renter’s market won’t resurface until well after 2015, and maybe beyond if the conversion market takes off.  In the meantime, rents should continue to rise and keep pace with the same costs it would take to own a home.  

All indicators seem to point to the real estate market heating up again. With record-low home prices, plus interest rates the lowest they’ve been in 60 years, buying a home is not only more affordable but is also an investment that could pay off big over time.  You don’t get that option with a rental.  There is a lot to think about but if you’d like to discuss your options further, just contact us at our Stroupe Group link.

Getting Around Downtown – by Car

November 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Land Use, Lifestyle, MISC

Ready or not, it’s Holiday Time!  Downtown Seattle’s holidays link is loaded with information about entertainment and arts events, shopping, dining and fun in general. But where, oh where, can you park?

epark sign to use

GARAGES:  TRY e-PARK!

The City of Seattle recently introduced e-Park, a guidance system providing short-term (approx 2-4 hours) parking information in real time. At a glance, e-Park signs can guide you to available parking spaces throughout the Downtown Retail Core and Pike Place Market, a combined total of over 4,500 parking spaces. Here are the e-Park locations:

Republic Parking at Third and Stewart Street Garage

Washington State Convention and Trade Center

Pike Place Market

Unico Properties at the Puget Sound Plaza/Cobb Building garage

Pine Street Group and Ampco Parking at the Pacific Place Garage

Washington Athletic Club

Second Avenue, near the southwest corner of Second and Virginia

Fifth Avenue, near the northwest corner of Fifth and Lenora

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The system is pretty simple. At key entrance points to downtown, signs guide drivers towards participating garages with available short-term spaces. The sign above will tell you, in real time, how many spaces are available in each garage.

You can also plot your parking strategy ahead of time by visiting www.seattle.gov/parkingmap. This is an interactive citywide parking map, displaying e-Park and on-street parking information, garage and lot locations, rates, and hours of operation.

The e-Park system is not a new one.  Guidance system technology is commonly used throughout Europe and in our country, has caught on in Portland, San Francisco and San Jose.  Seattle’s program is unique because in addition to city garages, we also partner with those that are privately owned. Watch for the program to expand into Pioneer Square and the Central Waterfront within the next two years.

 

METERED PARKING: LATEST NEWS

In recent days, the Seattle City Council made compromises with Mayor Mike McGinn on this hot-button issue. Meter rates will increase up to $4 an hour, BUT not in all neighborhoods. 

Two parking studies will be done prior to any changes. The first one will take a look at current space usage. The second will assess whether to tailor parking rates to specific neighborhoods, and adjust those rates depending on the time of day. The goal is to have 85 percent of the street spaces filled.

The council agreed to extend parking-meter hours from the current 6 p.m., until 8 p.m. instead.  However, they rejected McGinn’s plans to charge for Sunday parking, bringing sighs of relief to a number of business owners relying on free parking for weekend customers.  At this time, it looks as if no changes will take place until at least 2012.

 

PARKING METERS & PAY STATIONS:  HELP INFO

Questions about a credit card transaction? Call 206.684.PARK

Problems with a parking meter or pay station? Please call 206.684.5260. Best to report this, because it’s illegal to park at a nonworking meter.  

Want to pay or contest a parking citation? Call 206.684.5600

General questions about pay stations? Email paystations@seattle.gov or call 206.684.ROAD

And remember… your parking stub is good for anywhere in the City. Say you pay for time downtown, then need to run to Capitol Hill. Keep it on your window, for when you park the second time, whatever minutes are left on your stub still apply.

We haven’t forgotten those who Go Green… there’s some great mass transit links online that you may not be aware of, and we’ll spotlight them in a separate article. Watch for it!

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