Throughout the morning of June 22nd, reporter Ryan Takeo of King 5 TV News broadcast an interview with Dean Jones, President and CEO of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, regarding the “Manhattanization of Seattle” as coined by Jones a year ago in a special feature section published by the Puget Sound Business Journal. Much of the excitement centered on the recent success of NEXUS, a new condominium tower that is anchoring a burgeoning East Village neighborhood in the northeast corner of downtown Seattle. Takeo takes note of how Seattle is following in the footsteps of pricier urban markets like Vancouver, BC and San Francisco and he previously reported on the increasing logic of owning versus renting citing.
“Much of what we thought would happen, is happening – median home prices are skyrocketing, there’s a movement from apartments to condominiums and downtown Seattle has taken its place among the fastest-growing cities in the US,” says Jones, referring to his research. “It was easy to predict because of the strong market fundamentals and the fact it takes several years for this new supply to catch up to present demand. I think we’re in for a cycle where both apartment rents and condominium home values rise despite the thousands of residential units in our pipeline.”
According to research by Jones and members of the NEXUS development team, the area of downtown Seattle bound by I-5 to the East, Olive Way to the South, 5th Avenue to the West and Thomas Street to the North in South Lake Union will soon be home to more than two dozen high-rise projects comprising residential, commercial and hospitality uses. Over the next five years this neighborhood could witness the development of 10,000+ housing units (mostly apartments), two million sq. ft. of office space, 185,000 sq. ft. of retail, 1,900+ hotel rooms and residential amenities such as urban grocers, child care facilities, bars, restaurants and other service providers.
“It’s where available land, high-rise zoning and market demand converge and so it’s little surprise that this is the fastest-growing and soon-to-be among the most densely populated neighborhoods on the West Coast,” adds Jones. “It’s like a city in a city and consumers are excited about is how new it will be, led by innovative developers with a lot of synergistic uses. Parking lots and underutilized buildings will be developed into glimmering towers and it’s all within walking distance of other urban neighborhoods and hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
Michael Cannon, Sales Director for NEXUS has seen this kind of rapid development happen again and again.
“I witnessed the rebirth of False Creek and Yaletown in Vancouver, BC in the 1990’s, Belltown in Seattle in the early 2000s as well as the Marina District in San Diego a few years later,” said Cannon. “I prefer to work on vanguard projects in emerging markets like the East Village – we’re quite literally selling the future. It’s validating to look back and see what great investments these became.”
Jones agrees, recalling his role on 2200, a mixed-use development located at 2200 Westlake with Vulcan between 2005 and 2007 before much of the boom took hold in South Lake Union.
“People were wondering where that South Lake Union Streetcar was going and scratched their heads about this high-rise island surrounded by parking lots and auto dealerships on the edge of downtown Seattle,” recalls Jones. “Now look at it. Nearly every development site with the zoning envelope is in play and South Lake Union is one of the most important commercial and residential markets in the nation.”