Granted, this is pretty much old news by now, but the issue of the disappearing condo views is at least worth mentioning.
Benjamin Shanfelder signed up to buy a condominium on the west side of downtown Seattle’s Cosmopolitan building in 2005 because it was one of the first new downtown high-rises and was convenient to amenities like the downtown bus tunnel and South Lake Union streetcar.
But before choosing a condo on the west side of Cosmopolitan’s 21st floor, he looked into plans for the adjacent lot and found the city had approved a 13-story office building there.
“I bought with that assumption,” he said last week.
Shanfelder knew other nearby projects would block some of his view. But it was a nasty surprise when developers of the neighboring building, which would be 18 feet away, revised their planned height to 34 stories — one story higher than Cosmopolitan.
“I would lose most of my remaining view and pretty much all of my sunlight and privacy,” he said.
Actually, he won’t: He sold his condo last month and moved to Queen Anne.
This tale of two towers raises questions about the city’s rules for tower spacing, the process for notifying neighbors and reviewing potential effects, and the obligations of a developer to tell buyers about plans for adjacent projects.
Developer Schnitzer West applied to build the 34-story tower in April 2006, just after the city raised downtown height limits. On Schnitzer’s site, limits went from 300 feet for a commercial building and 360 feet for a residential building to 500 feet for either.
Adjacent property owners, including Cosmopolitan developer Continental Properties, were notified of the new application, as per city requirements. But those who had signed agreements to buy in Cosmopolitan were not.
Ah, the joys of downtown condo living. Amazing views (for a year or two), trendy granite and stainless steel finishes (which will never go out of style, ever), and easy access to the SLUT. Who wouldn’t want to pay half a million or more for all that?
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 12.02.2007)