Checking Up on That 2010 Downtown Condo Dream

Here’s an interesting comparison. First, this graphic, posted here in June 2006, from a Seattle P-I article titled Booming development set to change Seattle’s look:

Alleged Seattle Skyline 2010

Then, a similar graphic from the most recent Seattle Business Magazine. The red rectangle on the first graphic shows the area that the second graphic covers.

Downtown Seattle Ghost Buildings

I guess Seattle wasn’t all that “under-condo’ed” after all. Who knew.

Hat tip: Urbnlivn

About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.


  1. 1

    I notice that one of the ghost buildings is a Vulcan project…sure seems that whatever Paul Allen touches turns to “chocolate”…Like the old line …How do you become a billionaire? Start out with ten billion.

  2. 2
    AMS says:

    Heron Tower-

    I made note of Heron Tower approximately May 2009, maybe it was June, I don’t really remember specifically. As I walked by, I stopped for a moment. There were many construction workers, two tower cranes, several traffic workers were directing traffic as truckloads of building supplies being delivered. What struck me as odd was just on the other side of Macy’s on 2nd between Stewart & Pine there is the big hole that had no activity. I don’t really know what was planned in that hole, but obviously things were not good. I also knew that the total market was not in the best of shape. Two tower cranes: I guess it was a case of hurry up and foreclose.

    I bet the city counted those chicks before they hatched!

    Remember when tower cranes were seemingly everywhere?

  3. 3
    Ray Pepper says:

    Do any of you BubbleHeads live in downtown Seattle?

    Where do you poop the dog? I think I see some bushes here and there.

  4. 4
    AMS says:

    RE: Ray Pepper @ 3 – There is the dog park…

    Actually I think that’s in Belltown.

  5. 5
    Ray Pepper says:

    RE: AMS @ 4

    Oh Yes!! I see it now…next to # 10

  6. 6
    AMS says:

    RE: Ray Pepper @ 5 – Yes, right inside the “Free Ride Zone.”

  7. 7
    Ray Pepper says:

    RE: AMS @ 6

    now thats funny!

    Although I love condos I couldn’t live in Downtown Seattle. Just too busy for me. Condo time for me would be Gig Harbor or West Seattle. I also like the new High Rise in Downtown Burien across the street from that Chinese Food Restaurant (KING WHA), Irish Bar, and the library.

  8. 8

    Belltown Dog Park is at 3rd and Bell, and is a great reason to have dog parks. That place used to be full of crackheads and gangsters. Now it’s a popular place for neighborhood residents and their dogs to hang out in all kinds of weather.

  9. 9
    Willy Nilly says:

    RE: Ray Pepper @ 7


    I don’t think they have sold one of those Burien beauties yet. We eat over there regularly, paste our faces to the glass and marvel at the financial beating someone is taking. We also eat at Lola for breakfast regularly. Over the past year I have looked out the window at Escala, and wonder who is going to be buying those. There are some tasty developments down in Orange County with thousands and thousands of empty units, some of these have HOA dues of over 1200/month!

  10. 10
    Masaba says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 8

    While the dog park is a good idea, it does have one major drawback. I passed by it once, and the smell of urine emanating from the park reminded me of walking by a row of port-o-johns baking in the sun at the Texas state fair.

  11. 11

    RE: Ray Pepper @ 7
    I like the new high rise in Burien too, but those prices are way out of line for the neighborhood.
    But yes, Old Burien has marvelously transformed into a very cool neighborhood, with a brewpub, Irish bar, great Italian food, art galleries, new library, not too far from some nice hiking trails, Puget Sound waterfront…and a very easy trip to DT Seattle.

  12. 12

    RE: Masaba @ 10
    I wonder if it’s dog urine that stinks up 3rd and Bell,or the urine of the drunks, drug dealers, and assorted other n’eer do wells who used to hang out there…

  13. 13
    AMS says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 8 – SPD on the Belltown drug problem:

    Yes, the dog park helped, but clearly the drug problem extends far beyond what a dog park or two can clean up.

  14. 14
    AMS says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 12 – If you let your dog into the wrong bush, he’s likely to get shot up. I’ve been wondering what the poor pooch is likely to get shot with: lead or heroin?

    More seriously, there are some areas where I am very cautious of my surroundings: I wouldn’t want to step on a needle.

  15. 15

    RE: AMS @ 13
    Agreed. Dog parks don’t cure anything, they just move the problems to another block or neighborhood.

  16. 16
    jason says:

    I guess this is the reason I know that you can never rename this blog!

    The heart of the matter isn’t news… it’s Bubble Talk.

  17. 17
    One Eyed Man says:

    I only know two people who live in downtown highrise condo’s in Seattle and both of them are doctors near retirement age. I think somebody messed up bad on the market demographics for those places. How many aging doctors can there be?;-)

  18. 18
    One Eyed Man says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 8

    My experience is that the urban condo dwell lets the dog shit inside on a doggie pad and lets the hired help clean it up if they are to cultured to pick it up themselves. The result is that in effect some of those expensive units are truly shit boxes.

    I never liked the stark modern condo look anyway so as far as I’m concerned the poop just adds a little character. When a listing says modern urban condo “with character” I think that’s just Realtor code for the dog craps inside so be careful not to step in it.;-)

  19. 19

    RE: One Eyed Man @ 17
    …and just a wild guess, but I think doctors don’t live as long as the average person does. Not that they’re so busy nurturing others, more along the lines of mechanics not maintaining their own cars. My own primary care physician died of a heart attack at age 58…he was a runner, ate a low fat diet, and was slim.

  20. 20
    OldGuy says:

    What were the condo dues running for these different units? To my understanding, the condo dues are not tax deductible like interest or taxes. (Not counting the home-office tax deduction.) Just what would someone’s income have to be before they would qualify for one of these condos? “Assume 20% down, PITI + condo dues + (car parking fees?), etc”

  21. 21

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 19 – A few years ago my dad went to a new doctor, and the doctor asked him if his old doctor ever suggested that he drink less. My dad answered no. Then he asked if his old doctor ever suggested that he smoke less. My dad answered no. Then the doctor asked who my dad’s old doctor was, and my dad’s answer caused the new doctor to understand. The old doctor was the one lived across the street from us when I was a kid, and my dad spent many an hour smoking and drinking with him over the years. ;-)

    Anyway, the doctor passed away about 5 years ago, but my dad is still kicking.

  22. 22
    CCG says:

    By Ray Pepper @ 3:

    Do any of you BubbleHeads live in downtown Seattle?

    Where do you poop the dog? I think I see some bushes here and there.

    I have a friend who lives downtown in a condo that takes up nearly the entire story. There’s a square of gravel up on the roof. Smell is unbearable up there.

    Last time I was there we came out of the garage (which you have to watch to make sure it closes behind you, or you’ll be fined) to find some guy pissing in a garbage can. Then we nearly ran into a cyclist who was running a red light as he went the wrong way on a one-way street. He thumped our car on the way by to let us know what a bunch of a-holes we were.

    Thank the good God I moved to Redmond. Queen Anne was tolerable at first, but I never saw the appeal of living downtown at all.

  23. 23
    CCG says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 21

    Patient: Doc, how much longer am I going to live?
    Doctor: You smoke?
    Patient: No.
    Doctor: Drink?
    Patient: No.
    Doctor: Sleep around?
    Patient: No.
    Doctor: What the hell do you care then?

  24. 24

    RE: CCG @ 22 – I used to live on First Hill. I think downtown/First Hill is good when you’re young (entertainment) or old (medical facilities), but not in-between. ;-)

  25. 25
    AMS says:

    RE: OldGuy @ 20 – If it’s a rental, the dues are deductible!

    The tax benefit to homeowners is far less than the benefits to rentals.

  26. 26
    EconE says:

    Ahhhh..memories of 2200.

  27. 27
    WestSeattleDave says:

    RE: AMS @ 2 – AMS — I know the hole of which you speak. It started out as a surface parking lot, and they planned to build a large condo/hotel project. The project stalled, leaving the large hole in the ground. Over the last few weeks, they have filled the hole, and will be putting a — wait for it — surface parking lot on top. They hope to generate at least a few dollars to offset their humongous costs.

  28. 28
    SpringStreet says:

    Living in a downtown hotel/condo, I try to get out and enjoy downtown. However, it is really difficult to do as a young person: the city really does shut down pretty early, and is much less vibrant than many places like Ballard at night.

    Buildings like 1521 have many residents now, but they purely transport using their cars – you rarely see anyone going through the doors.

    It’s also scary to walk along 3rd Avenue at night, especially in the 1:30-3:30am range. The wandering vagrants and drunks aren’t present in many of the finer neighborhoods lining the city. Esp. around the former Hotel 1 site (Starwood’s hole that is becoming a parking lot)

    It is fun because of the diversity of people: during the day, businesspeople from around the region fill the office towers (that are not vacant) and there is energy all around. At night, it clears up more and you get a few bar scenes and plenty of events bring unique people to the area.

    But there also is so little character. A mortgage on a $700k one-bedroom with 850 ft., HOA dues in the $700 range. Parking for a few hundred. What’s it all for?

    So I’m not sure if long-term i want to continue this living experience or not.

  29. 29
    voight-kampff says:

    RE: AMS @ 2

    what you saw was not heron tower but in fact “Escala”, as heron tower never broke ground. Escala is finished but has postponed closings ( at least 20 pre-sale buyers have lawyered up to back out) so escala has not foreclosed… yet!!
    the hole at 2nd and pine was to be called “one” a hotel/condo combination, its all the rage you know.

    as far as the ghost map,
    alot of developers knew they might miss the cycle with their projects, as it is tough and time consuming to get a highrise going, so its better to get the ball rolling and let it fizzle if the climate changes.
    Many of the projects on that map never broke ground, the developers were just getting ready to hop on the gravy train if it some how things managed to keep oozing forth lots of tasty gravy.

  30. 30
    voight-kampff says:

    I find it hilarious… the stereotypes people are making of people who live downtown.
    I have lived downtown for 11 years, I have no hired help, Im not even rich…wow!.
    I dont even let my dog poop in the house.
    I always pictured all you suburban types letting your dogs raise your children so I guess were even ;-)

    for the record I rent.

  31. 31
    The_Dude_Abides says:

    I want one of them thar condoze.
    Just this morning, I was walking by Bellevue Towers and admiring them. A young man saw me and as he walked by, said “Empty, empty, empty.” We talked for a few seconds and I said I might buy one when they hit $300/sq ft. Then an elderly lady joined in and said, “The fees are too high at that place.”
    It turned into a Seattle(Bellevue) Bubble moment, right in front of that ghost building. haha
    Price them reasonable…and we will come.

  32. 32
    AMS says:

    RE: voight-kampff @ 29 – You’re right! There are just so many, but I picked the wrong one. My mistake.

    Here is a nice picture of it:

    So I guess it’s not in foreclosure yet.

    Not that it matters, but I think it’s a great looking building. Which is one of the reasons I took a moment to look it over as I was walking by.

  33. 33
    EconE says:

    RE: voight-kampff @ 30

    Which needle exchange do you use?

    I heard they’re opening up a new one in Nordstroms!


    But seriously…living downtown can be pretty cool.

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