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Friday, October 19, 2007

Re: Living in Heaven

posted by on October 19 at 17:50 PM

The taller the condo, the closer to God. At least, for some readers of Alaska Airlines’ hilarious in-flight magazine. It talks about Seattle as a city you’ve never seen: It’s a city that charts locations by proximity to the Pike Place Market; it’s a city that loathes rock and adores opera; it’s a city of steakhouses.

In Seattle, everybody owns a luxury condo.

Of the 17 ads for unbuilt developments, the largest is a 16-page matte-finish advertising section titled “New Urbanism,” which lures jet setters to the 1 Hotel & Residences with the schmaltziest copy ever written: “Seattleites instinctively have the need for balance in their lives,” and, “Not simply the concept of a privileged few, Seattle has created and is motivated by a common ground with many voices.”

Still a hole in the ground at Second Ave and Pine St, the 23-story “1” will apparently embody new urbanism by containing residential units, a spa, and a restaurant… all in one fortification.


Here’s the selling point: The environmental footprint of the condos is a women’s size 2, so empty nesters can, with a clear conscience, buy a condo (for $1 million to $5 million) that they use only two months a year. They’ll have similar company on Second Avenue.

One block north at Second Ave and Virginia St, catty corner to the Moore Theater, a 40-story construction will replace this parking lot.


And one block South is the ultra-exclusive Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue, under construction by Opus, pictured here.


The Web site promises, “from each of its thirty-eight floors, Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue offers a wide-open expanse of natural and urban views…. In all directions, scenes of the vibrant cityscape are backed by mountain and sky.” Uh, except from about half the units facing south, it turns out. The seven-story building to Fifteen Twenty-One’s immediate left is about to be replaced with a 22-story tower that could go condo or apartment, according to Clarence Cecright of Greg Maxwell Architects. “Basically the buildings are a zero-line condition,” he says. “They will have a party wall between the two buildings.” Maybe Opus regrets not buying airspace rights. (Thanks for pointing this out, Slog tipper Damon.)


In all, it’s fabulous that Second Avenue is filling in, albeit with s’mugly overpriced stuff (Second has long been the partially toothless stepchild between First and Third). Long avenues, lined with towers that seem to lean over the street, give cities an air of vibrancy, infinite possibility. And even if those towers are filled with the suckers who buy million-dollar homes out of in-flight magazines, at least they’re all nestled together in the middle of downtown, where the general population outnumbers them.

RSS icon Comments


alaska airlines magazine, of course!

the same ads for places like san diego and vegas appear in southwest's magazine.

regardless, I like the idea of million dollar condo owning baffoons interacting with the transients.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 19, 2007 6:04 PM

oh, and some of that adverts are outright lies. seattle rarely can find common ground on anything besides loathing bush, liking coffee, and cheering for the seahawks only when they make the playoffs.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 19, 2007 6:06 PM

It's that same kind of smarminess that made me stop taking the P-I. I truly couldn't cope with the "New Homes Saturday" section.

My partner, on the other hand, loved it. We now have a gentleman's understanding: He buys it and reads it at work (he works on Saturdays) and I agree to make the bed and make sure the cat has water.

But the creeping smarminess of Ballard is seriously making me consider changing jobs. I don't want to be a part of anything that enables real estate marketing phrases like "Contemporary Urban living" or "quality townhomes"

Posted by catalina vel-duray | October 19, 2007 6:54 PM

I don't see how their ad copy is any more schmaltzy than the typical Capitol Hill hipster sneering at pretty much everything that isn't an 80-year-old 4-story brick apartment building. On Capitol Hill. With rents under $600.

The Stranger's pretense at "urbanism" is nothing more than the same old Joe Connolly Seattle-style reactionary rejection of everything. If the hipsters had their way this city would stagnate like East Berlin circa 1985. At least you're ineffectual, thankfully.

Posted by elenchos | October 19, 2007 7:14 PM

Wait -- I thought we were cheerleading development, elenchos. At least that's what I've read in Slog comments. I'm all for big, towering, pricey condos downtown and in spots on the hill, in West Seattle, Ballard, etc., that are currently occupied by parking lots or empty lots and the odd single-family home, of which we have too many. And remember: many of today's developments are tomorrow's--well, mid-century's--affordable housing units.

Posted by Dan Savage | October 19, 2007 8:05 PM

Dom - I love that you counted the Seattle condo ads...I did exactly the same thing when I flew Alaska last month...turned down every page corner.

Posted by LH | October 19, 2007 8:34 PM

Yeah, Dan, you support development as an abstract concept. But an actual development? Like somebody goes and actually builds a building? Then it's bitch bitch bitch.

You're really asking too much if you only want buildings that you don't like to be torn down (or only parking lots to be developed), and for the ones that go up to match your taste. Most new anythings are ugly.

And this is the first time anyone from The Stranger has acknowledged that it takes 50 years for a new building's rents to come down to what a recent college grad can afford. It's nice to hear you say it: development is a process, and it involves change, and lots of mistakes.

Posted by elenchos | October 19, 2007 8:52 PM

You're right, elenchos. We haven't praised the good stuff -- and it's out there. I will get right on it.

Posted by Dan Savage | October 19, 2007 10:14 PM

Yeah, but you wouldn't want to put 5 or more story condos on Aloha or Prospect or many other streets east of Broadway, would you? Line the avenues but do preserve the single-family middle section. That's what makes New Orleans, Philly, Brooklyn, Baltimore, Boston, even close-in Chicago or Houston nice. Yeah, those single family homes become as costly as mansions but they're like the actual fabric of a neighborhood and the arteries and business districts are like the warp and weave. Even in the Dark Ages I would have preferred a single family hut to a warren.

Posted by chas Redmond | October 19, 2007 10:22 PM

The 2nd and Pike building may have obnoxious marketing, but it's a big improvement over the parking lot that has occupied that spot for the past 50 years.

Posted by Tiffany | October 19, 2007 11:25 PM

Seattle is a funny joke. Don't belittle it.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 20, 2007 12:38 AM

golly, there are rich people in the world?? Better that they go somewhere else of course. We don't like to look at them as they generate huge property taxes for city government.

Let's be like Bufalo or Erie and have nobody living downtown. Dark, dangerous, empty at night downtowns. That's what we want!

AT let all those rich folks go to Bellevue, LA. NY and LOndon.

That'll teach 'em!!!

How morally superior we are.

Posted by Jill | October 20, 2007 9:36 AM

Looks like the roof of the Macy's parking garage is ripe for being used by the yuppies sure to move into to the new hotel tower. I think it's wasted space otherwise :-)

Seriously, I can't wait for all this stuff, and for all the 4-6 story buildings on Broadway. Sure, some of them aren't perfect and will look dated pretty quick, but whatever.

I prefer density over sprawl and growth over stagnation. Just look at all the rural areas in WA state alone, stagnation in population growth + building = hard times economically and eventual decline.

Posted by jcricket | October 20, 2007 10:16 AM

I love this stuff.

I say DESTROY all surface parking lots in downtown Seattle!

Fifteen Twenty-One would seriously be an amazing place to live.

Posted by Cale | October 20, 2007 1:00 PM

Hey, Jill, Cale and Jcricket. Like I said, I'm glad these developments are being built on Second Ave, too--especially the splendid Fifteen Twenty-One tower. The "1" building is kinda ugly, IMO, but not ugly like the parking lot that's been there for decades. The advertising, however, is thoroughly ridiculous.

Posted by Dominic Holden | October 20, 2007 1:38 PM

For the record, I have nothing against development. I get a tad concerned about the quality of some of the developments (seeing them from the inside out while they are being built) but overall, I'd rather they built in-town than add another block of crap to Issaquah or North Bend. And anything is preferable to a surface parking lot, that's for sure.

I just hate the smarmy ad copy. That's all. I can't even begin to imagine the sort of person that would be attracted to that schmaltz.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | October 20, 2007 8:47 PM

My favorite part of this is that Pine is portrayed as being a four lane road with an extra lane for pull over parking.

Posted by Nay | October 21, 2007 5:40 PM

I'll never be able to live in 1521 (well, I'll cross my fingers), but I ride the bus by it most days and watch the progress. I agree, its a lot better than the lot before it - seeing as they were able to relocated the Green Tortoise - and downtown needs more eyes on the street in that corner

Posted by Chris | October 25, 2007 4:04 PM

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