Boom Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue
It’s not quite a sacred Seattle tradition, but when developers build upscale condos, they tend to also mix in condos slightly less upscale, or even some that are affordable to the genuinely middle class.
Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue feels no such obligation. This 440-foot, 38-story glass tower will mix nothing but wealth. It is promoting itself unabashedly as exclusive, and as downtown condo development goes, it may be a sign of things to come.
Rendering by Weber + Thompson
That is on 2nd Avenue, between Pike and Pine.
Here is the view from the sky of what that site looks like today:
Fifteen Twenty-One will occupy that parking lot and the building that borders it to the north. That is 2nd Ave on the right, heading north. Here is the view from the ground:
Sorry Wig Land! That picture, by Sarah Mirk, is looking west across 2nd.
More, including an interview with the building’s developer William Justen, after the jump.
The city revised its zoning regulations in April to allow for more height in exchange for a slender shape and the builder's donating to an affordable housing fund. Fifteen Twenty-One is the first high-rise designed according to that new code.
Yes, it was an optimistic design team — the first blueprints accommodated the monorail, too, and when that movement failed it caused the project significant delay. William Justen, managing director of Samis Land Co., had a bit more control over the zoning changes, writing some 70 pages' worth of issue papers and consulting with the city on what was practical and what wasn't. Fifteen Twenty-One, a collaboration between Justen and the development company Opus Northwest, represents the "prototypeâ€ť for what Justen believes will be a new generation of tall and slender buildings.
The condos range in size from 1,660 square feet (which Justen says will cost "about a millionâ€ť) to 2,860 square feet (which he says will cost "a couple million.â€ť)
Interior features: floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over downtown and Puget Sound. A spa bathroom with a walk-in shower and soaking air tub. Rooftop terraces. And windows that roll open to invite fresh air, an effect that Justen says "internalizesâ€ť the idea of a balcony.
For all this opulence, Fifteen Twenty-One is easy to hate. But the building is a response to market forces. Downtown real estate is enormously expensive. Construction costs have multiplied in recent years. And the Fifteen Twenty-One development team had to add to those costs by paying $1.75 million to low-income housing, the price of its added height.
To offset those costs, a developer is inclined to charge top-dollar. And people will pay. Roughly half of the building's 143 condos have already been locked into purchase-and-sale agreements, says Justen. The construction won't begin until next month.
"I felt there was a niche,â€ť says Justen. "In development you have to differentiate yourself from other people somehow, and we went after people who were moving out of larger homes and really still wanted to move into a large space.â€ť
But so far, the buyers are not empty nesters. This is the age breakdown of people who have reserved space in Fifteen Twenty-One, according to Justen.
Age 25-35: 18 percent
Age 36-45: 28 percent
Age 46-55: 40 percent
Age 56 and up: 14 percent
Justen says Fifteen Twenty-One will be open for occupancy in Fall 2008.