Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur points out the downside to the city’s apparent condo-rich future—the condos are pretty much only for the rich.
I like the idea of an army of spit-shine new residents invading downtown. It’s fewer cars on the road, a nod to our healthy economy and hints at the world-class city we’ve always wanted to be.
But I don’t see any place for the middle class. Any firefighter, teacher or store manager (we’re what the city calls its "work force") will have to borrow a jacket to be seated.
One exception is the "green" Veer Lofts at South Lake Union, which start in the mid-$200,000s. With their laminate cabinets and concrete floors, the industrial-style lofts are considered "entry-level."
So of course it’s like scaling a mountain to get one. Potential buyers must attend an informational overview, get pre-approval from a lender, fill out a lottery card and then cross their fingers.
…So while some 11,000 new downtown condos are in the works, a fraction of that will be apartments for the working class.
I guess that’s what it means to be "world-class." Like New York and Chicago, Seattle is becoming a place of haves and have-nots, where the affluent enjoy the banquet of downtown life while we mortals can only window shop.
It seems like most of the large employers with lots of well-paying jobs aren’t even located downtown anyway. Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing… Is there really enough demand in the downtown core for all these high-priced homes? I guess we’ll see as these projects are built—or not built, as the case may be.
Update: Condo enthusiast Matt over at Urbnlivn shared his take on the matter yesterday.
(Nicole Brodeur, Seattle Times, 06.25.2006)