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Topping-Off Ceremony at Escala

April 7, 2009 by  
Filed under ESCALA, Featured

John Midby

John Midby

What a beautiful day for such an event!  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the mountains were clearly visible in the background, two ferries could be seen passing through the Sound, the sun glistened off nearby towers, and a news helicopter stationed as position during the ceremony.  Even though John Midby needed some backup when trying to control the shift in weight of the concrete when it began to pour, the only thing that could have made the event better would have been to host the champagne and Longhorn BBQ lunch outside from the top.  Oh well. 

Regardless, it’s likely this milestone event may be another advancement in pushing another positive buzz for the project.  During the champagne toast, one of the speakers made a comment about how Escala is working to make a community that is livable and walkable, 24/7.  Another one of Escala’s team members later reminded us that it wasn’t long ago that the downtown area was once much more seedy than it is now–a place that was in fact 24/7, but not so walkable nor livable. Escala’s value truly does go much deeper than the hole dug beneath the ground floor, and much thicker than the massive slabs of concrete used to construct its walls.  There’s also some positive cultural intentions built into Escala.  Few companies seem to integrate a solid level of integrity into their efforts, but with Escala it’s readily seen.

escala_view

We’re really looking forward to seeing the interior of the building take shape.  Now, it’s incredibly difficult to not notice the new high-rise.  Just a few more floors of the emerald-colored glass will complete the project’s exterior, then current and future buyers can really start to visualize being part of a downtown Seattle holiday after closing.

To John Midby and the rest of the Escala team:

Congratulations!

escala_toping_off

Escala Construction Update

March 31, 2009 by  
Filed under ESCALA

Escala sent out a letter to their buyers with an update of the following:

Construction Topping Off Event

The final pour for Escala will be held on April 7th and has sent personal invites.

Homeowner Move-In Update

Escala wrote in their letter that many buyers have been starting to call asking questions regarding walk-throughs and closings.  Currently they don’t have dates scheduled but they’re working towards contacting each homeowner personally to make arrangements.  Their occupancy permit is scheduled for mid-September.  But, everything depends on construction agendas and weather.  Their anticipation is occupancy will begin in October/November 2009.

Interior Home Finish Schedule

Several floors of homes are said to be nearly complete and when all homes are completed, the homes will then be “sealed” with approval after the development team has had a chance to go through them all.

ESCALA Starts to Buzz – Media Coverage & Wine Cave Table

February 5, 2009 by  
Filed under ESCALA, Featured

In addition to our photos we took at ESCALA just last week, a lot of other media has surfaced recently as well.  If you’re following the progress of ESCALA closely, then you may have already seen the “In the News” email that was just sent out.

Probably the most interesting was the Daily Journal of Commerce article where developer John Midby is quoted for pointing out that only an estimated 659 condos will be delivered as new inventory by 2011.  When doing a search for solds in the downtown area from January 1st, 2008 through 2009, there were 446 sales.

So 659 new listings added to the market in 2 years, minus 2 years of an approximate 446?

No!  That 446 does not include many of the new construction sales.  So, the history of sold properties is often skewed (lower), hence the disclaimer in newspaper articles about basing their info on NWMLS data when reporting active, pending, and sold listings.  Many developers and other bullish industry professionals will expect to see another abnormal increase in prices in the next couple of years due to lack of inventory.  With ESCALA being the last new construction site to break ground since the increased restrictions on lending, Midby proves the value of ESCALA, even in this down market.

Read Article

Also, we have found Dean Jones, CEO of condo market analysis company Realogics, to be an excellent and reliable source for additional information when gauging the market since he specializes in the new construction arena.  King-5 recently featured a segment with a testimonial from an ESCALA buyer and he shares his excitement for the urban lifestyle.  The clip also recognizes an approximate 10% depreciation in home prices for October 2008 in the greater Seattle region.  However, the downtown area proves to be unique with only an approximate 3% depreciation.  Therefore, it’s unlikely that we’ll see prices decrease for presales at ESCALA.

View Clip

Another “buzz” that was recently published is about an Eastside professional who’s looking forward to ESCALA’s private social club.

“As an Eastsider, this is a chance to be a part of a facility where I can entertain clients in a high-end environment,” he explained. “The club has a broader scope than other clubs in the area and a higher estectic.”

Club Cielo will really raise the bar to clubs in Seattle, and be another talley mark for what our city has to offer when comparing to New York and San Francisco.  Fortunately for those in the know, ESCALA prices are still…low.

Read Article

Just in!

ESCALA’s wine cave table is here and in the shop.  We’ve got some pictures, but still waiting to hear more about the story behind the tree.

So Many Photos of ESCALA: New Construction/Hard Hat

January 27, 2009 by  
Filed under ESCALA, Featured

We took another tour of ESCALA yesterday with John Midby since it was such a beautiful day out.  Most of these view shots were taken from the 26th floor, and of course facing west.


However, many of the southern, eastern, and northern views were just as spectacular.  Midby assured us that there really hasn’t been too much preference on buyers choosing one direction or another.  It’s all been just a matter of preference.

The most exciting part of our visit was to see that some of the units are starting to get carpets and appliances.  The photos we took of the units that are undergoing completion are those on the 4th, 5th and 6th floors.

The amenity levels hasn’t changed much since our previous visit except for the addition of the lobby staircase.  There’s also some shape taking place in and around the pool area which is starting to help paint the picture of what everything will look like.  Other than that, ESCALA is moving along quite well and the views are more impressive than we had imagined.  The photos really don’t show how great they really are.  The view we probably spent the most time enjoying was the southern view down the 4th Avenue corridor.  If only the sun had been going down and the city lights lit up around us.

ESCALA’s Club Cielo Renderings

September 24, 2008 by  
Filed under ESCALA

Escala get more and more exciting as the project continues to unveil itself.  Here are some gorgeous renderings of the new club.  You can also view how the area currently looks under construction here.  Ben did a great job of writing more about the event here.

ESCALA New Construction Photos

August 27, 2008 by  
Filed under ESCALA, JE Dunn NW, Midby Companies

Wow, have we have been lucky with the weather.  We were fortunate enough to have fairly blue skies while taking a hard hat tour of ESCALA today with John Midby.  Since there is yet to be any interior walls at the construction site, it’s really difficult to paint the picture of what everything will look like.  Therefore, our photos are focused on the amenity space, quality of construction, and views.

Exterior from 4th and Virginia

Exterior from 4th and Virginia

After climbing up and around a little boys hot wheel car playground paradise, we entered the enormous lobby.  Midby pointed out the where the winding staircase will attach to the 3rd floor.  The long-time developer assured us the staircase would be, “smashing.”

Grand Lobby

Grand Lobby

From here, we went down the east wing of the building where there will eventually be a plush lounge and fireplace for guests and residents to relax.  Which restaurant will occupy the northern portion of the luxury development is still up in the air.  However, based on the chuckle and “we don’t know yet” response by John, there’s plenty of interest.

Lounge

Lounge

Wine Cave

Wine Cave

Movie Theatre

Movie Theater

Gym and Lap Pools

Gym and Lap Pools

One of things that was most impressive about the tour was not only the views and the spacious floorplans, but just the amount of concrete.  Before our exit, John stated that, “We want the quality of our work to represent everything we do.  We spared no expense on quality.”

View from Gym & Pilates/Aerobics Room

View from Gym & Pilates/Aerobics Room

With much of the construction materials scattered about, it was difficult to get a good shot of the spectacular views for those who have, or will be purchasing units in the northeastern corners.  However, there’s a straight shot down a corridor that will give these homeowners a spaceneedle view.  In addition, many of those same floorplans will offer homeowners lake views.  Personally, I really enjoyed the view down 4th Avenue which is shown below.

4th Avenue Southern View

4th Avenue Southern View

Western View

Western View

Eastern View & Deck

Eastern View & Deck

And these guys…  They just wanted to say hi to mom, dad, and the rest of the fam.

We’ll follow up this post soon with renderings of the amenities, which are not yet ready to be released.

Club Cielo Wins Gold Nugget for Best Specialty Project

July 29, 2008 by  
Filed under ESCALA

ESCALA has been awarded yet another award for prestige. This time for the private social club which is the first to open in Seattle in over two decades. The award was given from over 500 entries submitted from over a dozen Western states. You can view the entire press release here.

New Construction Photos for ESCALA: July 2008

July 10, 2008 by  
Filed under ESCALA

Just a couple of pics of ESCALA from Westlake Mall and across the street on 4th and Virginia:

From 4th & Pike

From 4th & Pike

From 4th & Virginia

From 4th & Virginia

Be sure to check out several other photos of downtown on our new Flickr album.

LEED-Certified Condos Yeild Higher Return

The new generation of buyers are demanding green built features when shopping for their first home, even though it can cost them up to 25% more. Builders are now being forced to make the additional up front investment in construction costs (averaging 2%), but Wikipedia states that they will eventually yield over 10 times that amount over the life cycle of the building. Additionally, developers receive additional incentives from state/local government that help boost press and public interest. Studies also show that LEED-certified buildings average $11.24 more per square foot, and have a 3.8% higher occupancy than non-LEED built homes.

So what is LEED-Certified?

Developed and administered by the U.S. Green Building Council of Washington D.C. (a nonprofit coalition of building industry leaders), The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)™ uses a rating system which offers 4 levels of certification — Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Each certification is designed to represent an “environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy place to live” by measuring building sustainability.

Each level is measured by points in five design categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. The higher the level, the higher the expenditure. However, LEED-certified buildings:

  • Lower operating costs and increased asset value.
  • Reduce waste sent to landfills.
  • Conserve energy and water.
  • Healthier and safer for occupants.
  • Reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in hundreds of cities.
  • Demonstrate an owner’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

average performance of leed certified homes

Here’s a look at what downtown area projects have been, or are striving to be LEED-certified:

2200 Westlake
5th and Madison
AVA
ENSO
ESCALA
Fifteen Twenty-One
Lumen
Mosler Lofts
Olive 8
Veer Lofts

It is surprising that many of the new construction projects haven’t applied for any level of LEED-certification considering that it’s proven to increase sale prices and occupancy. At the same time, an up front investment of 2% for a builder can be quite a bit.

Green Home Checklist
Green Homes 101

While reports on the Internet support that buyers will pay more for a LEED-certified home, and builders will yield higher profits, I’ve had experience where buyers are actually turned off by the idea of having recycled materials integrated into their home’s interior.  Buyer’s also seem to prefer to get more square feet for their dollar rather than a smaller green built home.  What would you do if you could get a new construction 2 bedroom condo for the same price as LEED-certified 1 bedroom?

Newest Private Club in Seattle Announces Co-Chairs

May 19, 2008 by  
Filed under ESCALA, Social Club

Club Cielo, the first new private club to open in Seattle in more than two decades, today welcomed Ken and Cathi Hatch as founding co-chairs of the advisory committee. The 25,000-square-foot club will be a key feature of the luxurious ESCALA condominium project now under construction at Fourth Avenue and Virginia Street in Seattle’s Midtown district.

As founding co-chairs of Club Cielo, prominent community members Ken and Cathi Hatch will help share the excitement about the club’s programs and offerings through their business and social networks, and will contribute ideas for club events.

Managed by Seattle-based Columbia Hospitality, Inc., Club Cielo will be a private club for social gatherings as well as a place of wellness and relaxation for homeowners, their guests and other club members.

Cathi Hatch is the founder, president and chief executive officer of ZINO Society, LLC, an angel investment organization connecting accredited investors with entrepreneurs seeking funding while promoting camaraderie in the business world. For more than 30 years, Cathi has served in executive management and as a consultant for restaurant operations and concept developments. She has also served in leadership positions for a number of community boards. Cathi currently serves on two public company boards and the Board of Trustees of PONCHO, as well as the boards of the Pacific Northwest Ballet, YMCA, PACE (Performing Arts Center Eastside) and the United Way of King County.

Ken Hatch is CEO of Hatch Enterprises, Inc., which he founded in 1997 to provide organizational and communications consulting for corporations in transition or crisis. With a career in management in all segments of broadcasting, Ken served as a senior executive overseeing operations in Seattle, Dallas, Kansas City, New York City and Chicago, among other cities. From 1980 to 1995, he served as chairman, president and chief executive officer of KIRO, Inc., located in Seattle.

“We are honored to have both Ken and Cathi involved with Club Cielo,” said John Oppenheimer, CEO and president of Columbia Hospitality. “We believe we’re creating something truly extraordinary, a lasting legacy for our region.”

Club Cielo will occupy the entire second floor of ESCALA and will feature a spa and fitness center with two stationary lap pools, steam rooms, massage therapy, treatment rooms, exercise classes and personal trainers. Club members will have access to a private dining room and bar as well as an exclusive wine cave with controlled-climate wine storage. A select number of memberships will be available to non-homeowners.

“We are delighted to be part of this wonderful new opportunity for Seattle,” said Cathi Hatch. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a new private club downtown, and Club Cielo is already proving to be just the type of venue we’ve been waiting for, with signature dining and a stone-laden wine cave and spa.”

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