Boom Cheap-ish Condos on Capitol Hill?
posted by January 17 at 12:43 PMon
The building at the corner of Pine and Bellevue has been vacant for months, awaiting conversion into condos. (Full disclosure: I have a friend who used to live there; she couldn’t afford what they were asking and moved into a different neighborhood.) But with the imminent crash of the market for conversions, the building’s owner, The Stratford Company, has decided to take a different route; they’re tearing the whole thing down and rebuilding it as small, affordable (the company likes to call them “attainable”) new-construction condos.
In recent years, the Pike-Pine corridor has changed dramatically, as developers have announced plans to demolish affordable housing or convert expensive apartments into even-more-expensive condos. (See: The block that formerly housed the Bus Stop and Kincora; the Press Condos—nee Press Apartments). But there’s reason to feel hopeful about this new development. For one thing, the building it will replace will be no great loss-brown brick apartments perched atop street-level parking, with no retail or other street amenities to speak of. For another, Stratford (which is primarily a condo conversion company) says it wants the new condos to be affordable to people making the Seattle median income, currently around $52,000 a year. According to Stratford sales VP Virginia Grady, the company is aiming for condos that are “low-cost but not low-quality”—around $250,000 for a 400- to 500-square-foot unit. “We’re looking at, how do we design a smaller space thatís highly functional and appealing?” she says.
To that end, the company is doing an online survey to find out what amenities people want and what things they might be able to live without; some cost-saving possibilities include loft-style designs, compact kitchen appliances, small, energy-efficient washer/dryers, no assigned parking spaces, and no air conditioning. As a renter, I’m encouraged to see a developer targeting my demographic—people with decent jobs and no kids who can’t afford the “From $695,000!” crap that’s replacing so many older single-family homes in this area.