Developers! Developers! Developers!

Reporter Aubrey Cohen and the Seattle PI are at it again, this time pimping new development in Columbia City.

A Seattle developer has proposed a mixed-use project in Columbia City aimed at providing homes typical workers can afford to buy, while another developer also has condo plans in the up-and-coming South Seattle neighborhood.

The 63-condo development, called Columbia City Place, would be built on a vacant former auto lot at 5201 Rainier Ave. S., and units would cost between $200,000 and $400,000 — plus whatever inflation tacks on in the two years before the project is completed, said Scott Shapiro, managing director of Eagle Rock Ventures LLC.

Shapiro said he and partner Murray Kahn are keeping prices down by using more basic finishes and wood construction for the upper floors, rather than concrete and steel, by installing above-ground parking and by building in Columbia City, where land is cheaper.

“It’s a huge risk because no one’s done condos of this scale in Columbia City,” Shapiro said. “I could be in the right place at the right time or I could be three years early.”

Or maybe three years too late?

“We’ve already explored heading north,” he said. “We can’t go east and we can’t go west. Continued development going down the Rainier Valley is going to be a foregone conclusion.”

While other developers are thinking about building in the area, Shapiro’s project is “pioneering,” Gardner said. “I think he’s on the leading edge, definitely.”

More like bleeding edge!

Columbia City is “a little neighborhood with a soul,” said Denny Onslow, Harbor’s chief development officer.

Projects such as these would have been “unthinkable” a decade ago, said Darryl Smith, who bought his Columbia City home in 1994 and became a Windermere Real Estate agent there the following year.

Smith said the projects would create new housing opportunities for people who cannot afford a house or those who might want a smaller home within walking distance of shopping and services. He also praised Harbor officials for saying they want to work with community members on their project and respect Columbia City’s character.

Does anyone else call BS on this? If you need to sell something, simply cite affordability or the environment (or both!) and it’s in the bag! Evidently Columbia City is the new Ballard.

Check out some of the comments on PI’s blog:

“Face Reality” said “What this really means is that land and housing in Ballard, Fremont, Cap Hill, etc has become so expensive that even most developers can’t afford to build because housing there is now beyond the reach of even the most affluent. …Say goodbye to affordable housing in Rainier, hello to gentrification. As has already occurred in the “real” Columbia City.”

“heebie_jeebies” added “I don’t know why we have to accept these monster townhouse cookie-cutter firetraps…I live on Capitol Hill and have NOTHING good to say about allowing development and density that is absolutely killing our neighborhoods.”

“financeguru” chimed in with “Wont development increase the property values of people that currently own near the new condo development? YES! I currently own a condo at the edge of Downtown and First Hill…and yes there are many areas that have high levels of drug usage and other things. Im getting my MBA at SU and it would be nice to see some of these abandoned buildings in the Capital Hill area cleaned up…”

(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle PI, 04-20-2007)

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  1. 1
    Terry says:

    Whoa! There’s some attitude in the comments –

    …Seattle as a real city is dying. It’s just a nannified software work farm now and mecca for property investors. Kind of like San Diego without the beach or weather….

    Also, I learned a new word today -“MicroNerd“. Presumably it’s an unflattering term for Microsoft employees.

  2. 2
    Deejayoh says:

    Oh, my favorite was from our very own financeguru, which synthetik was kind enough to censor:

    BTW: I currently own a condo at the edge of Downtown and First Hill…and yes there are many areas that have high levels of drug usage and other things. At least refreshing some neighbor hoods is a good thing. Im getting my MBA at SU (so walk to campus a lot) and it would be nice to see some of these abandoned buildings in the Capital Hill area cleaned up…at least do something productive with them. Also would be nice to reduce some of the Capital Hill “PRIDE” culture.

    thank you for the homophobic rant. Where did you think you were buying, Issaquah?

  3. 3
    Finance says:

    Deejayoh – Im sorry for my comments, as the only reason I said it was that there was an incident near my building that involved the police and these gay guys with a drug problem going on. I was nearby and had to help the police out..long story, yet I was just frustrated from a few days before when I wrote that due to what I had help do to resolve the situation…it wasnt pretty.

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