“A good lifestyle and a sense of happiness…”

Here’s a bit of marketing print from 2007…

Housing developments in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains are hardly anything new in the Northwest. And sure, increasing numbers of home builders are incorporating at least a few green practices in their craft.

But how about a major development that holistically considers not only environmentally sensitive materials, but the placement of homes in a way that encourages community interactions? Or how about a development intended to be so inspiring that backers hope it will encourage residents to attend symphonies and plays and read Thoreau? Maybe not so common.

“A good lifestyle, and a sense of happiness, that’s what people are looking for,” said Patrick Kuo, developer of Cascadia, the largest planned community in Washington.

Located on about 4,700 acres of land near Bonney Lake, 12 miles southeast of Tacoma, the development is envisioned to eventually be the home of 16,000 or more people. Kuo and his backers hope that Cascadia will likewise be home to companies in a high-tech business park providing up to 10,000 jobs.

Wow, sounds like a fabulous dream world, doesn’t it? Let’s check in three years later and see how that dream is coming along…

Cascadia's Empty Lots


Whoops. It looks like breaking ground on a massive 6,500-home planned community 20 miles outside of Tacoma at the height of the housing bubble turned out to be not such a hot idea.

Cascadia, the massive master-planned community in east Pierce County, will be auctioned off Friday after a bankruptcy judge told the developer he could have no more time to restructure the debt.

Owner-manager Patrick Kuo has been working for months to find new financing after HomeStreet Bank foreclosed last year on about $75 million in loans. Cascadia filed for bankruptcy protection after the foreclosure.

On Wednesday, Judge Karen Overstreet sided with the bank. Parcels of Cascadia will be for sale on the steps of the City-County Building in Tacoma at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

No word yet on how the Friday’s auction went.

The property went back to HomeStreet Bank at Friday’s auction: Cascadia property reverts to bank. The bank says they are “committed to finding a new developer” for the property.

Hat tip: RedmondJP

(Kathleen Cooper, Tacoma News Tribune, 09.23.2010)

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
    ray pepper says:

    I was at this Pierce County Auction like (I am every Friday) but with the other 441 scheduled trustee sales, cancellations, bidding by the usual groups Cascadia was unobserved by myself. However, I was only there 70 minutes after my 3 properties I was interested in were cancelled. It looked like a big day ahead that would go till 4pm and then I got sick of watching two fools bid up a piece of crap from 70k to 101k in hopes of flipping in south Tacoma. He should have just paid the agent a few thousand to go away. Cascadia probably was held till the end of the day with the other biggies.

    I wish someone could graph the purchases at these auctions, then track them to the NWMLS, so we could see the losses on flipping that some of these corn balls are incurring. I see so many become unintended rentals and the owners bagholders that Its laughable.

  2. 2
    redmondjp says:

    This could be Washington State’s very own California City, which has fascinated me ever since I first learned of it (in the arid desert landscape you can still see where many of the streets were laid 50 years after they were scraped – check out the satellite maps).

    Take a look on the map at where Cascadia is located – sandwiched between Orting to the south (bounded by a river as well) and Bonney Lake to the north. Now look at the (lack of) roads in and out of this area. Now imagine 15-20K people living there and trying to get to work every day, with most of them trying to get to highway 167 and 512 (and beyond) via 410 and 162. Highway 162 into Orting is already jammed up enough with the housing development that has happened in and around that town.

    I’m not anti-development, but it is a huge problem when there is zero added traffic infrastructure other than widening the roads just outside the main entrances to the development as is typical in our area.

  3. 3

    RE: ray pepper @ 1 – You wouldn’t know how much they spent, so it wouldn’t be possible to track the losses.

  4. 4
    redmondjp says:

    The Tacoma News Tribune reported on Saturday that the property went back to the bank:


    Frankly I’m a bit surprised that this story hasn’t gathered more media attention, considering the massive size of this development. I guess no news is good news!

  5. 5
    ray pepper says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 3

    Well, I do know what they spent on the properties “I have tracked.” I know what they paid and I have the estimated repair costs,liens,and I know what the 3% clip they must pay to get and 3% to list. I even know if they used their money or the hard money. Its a very intimate group at these auctions. Everyone knows each other or knows someone who is there mysteriously. So even though it would be approximate within 5-10% it would be easy to see who the bagholders are. There are alot of em…However, there are GEMS that do come out every Friday.

  6. 6
    GrizzlyBear says:

    This is the sort of environmental devastation you get when you combine moneyed interests with corrupt politicians and a lack of accountability. It’s very sad to hear the comments from people in the area about wildlife roaming around in neighborhoods looking for food. This was a horrible idea from the start, and it should never have been allowed to proceed. The community development people who permitted this atrocity need to be fired.

  7. 7
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: redmondjp @ 2 – When I envisinion Hell, it bears a striking resemblence to what this place would be like in its completed form. Good riddance.

    Now, California City…if it is good enough for Erik Estrada, it is good enough for me.

  8. 8
    Tim Mcb says:

    RE: redmondjp @ 2

    Not quite on the same scale and not as drastic, is my family’s favorite (for nostalgic sake) vacation spot, Ocean Shores.


    The wikipedia article is more diplomatic about its boom and bust. Pat Boone’s real estate company that hawked the land down there went bust and there was severe infrastructure problems early in its development. It eventually found its legs, but never on the level that Boone and his investors had hoped for. Funny how people really like living at the beach, but not when it’s rainy and gray 11 months out of the year and 2 and half hours from the closest major city.

  9. 9
    redmondjp says:

    RE: Tim @ 8,

    Funny you should mention Ocean Shores, as my grandparents owned a lot there for many years (never did anything with it – they lived on a farm in Lewis County for their entire lives). We visited it a few times while I was growing up. I remember that the streets and curbs were there but nothing else. Haven’t been there since probably 30 years ago, so I have no idea what it looks like today.

    And yes, every time we were there it was rainy, gray and dreary. I also wondered why anybody would want to live there.

  10. 10
    joe dirt says:

    I went out to Ocean Shores once many years ago, never went back.

  11. 11
    Scotsman says:

    We usually go to Long Beach- a bit funkier and less developed. The allure of retiring there when the sun is out and interesting people and events fill the streets/beaches is pretty strong. But the reality of the other 9 months is a killer. And the drive is miserable.

  12. 12

    I’d prefer someplace where you didn’t need to worry about Tsunamis. ;-)

  13. 13
    Matt the Engineer says:

    Funny, I love Ocean Shores. I set up a family reunion there two years ago and it was great. We rented a few houses and all rode bikes everywhere. Sure, I’d never live there. But it made for a nice vacation spot.

  14. 14
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 12 – Kary.. Was that an acorn that just struck on your coconut or is the sky truly falling?

  15. 15

    RE: Pegasus @ 14 – ??? I was referencing Long Beach and Ocean Shores, particularly Long Beach. I like it at Long Beach too, but I really don’t like being in a Tsunami zone where you’re out at the end of a long peninsula with a long way to drive to get to high ground.

  16. 16
    wreckingbull says:

    Of course this thread would not be complete without someone bringing up Seabrook, and the obligatory Truman Show reference.


    Anyone been there or know much about it?

  17. 17
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 15 – Bingo, no way to “run for the hills” like you can in most coastal towns. Now the Iron Maiden song is stuck in my head. Very valid point IMO.

  18. 18
    The Tim says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 16 – Seabrook’s developer Casey Roloff actually left a lengthy comment here about the current status of Seabrook a little over a month ago. According to him, things are cruising along just peachy over there. Sounds like he was smart enough to take it slow and not immediately shoot for thousands of homes.

  19. 19
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: The Tim @ 18 – Thanks Tim, I completely missed that. I actually was in complete agreement with his points until he regurgitated the Bloomburg article. Regardless, it seems he does understand the concepts of affordability and accountability. Refreshing to see that from a developer.

    I am also amazed at what is hapenning right now at Roche Harbor. Same sort of cutsie, fake town setup, but they do appear to be very well built. They also appear to be selling well.


  20. 20
    Bob Carlson says:

    Sure sorry it turned around… Patrick is a very professional person and a really nice guy. Hope his company can help Home Street with the buildout, he has great ideas. The economy has taken its toll!!!

  21. 21
    Crashcadia says:

    If Homestreet bank mark to markets this they will probably be under capitalized.
    Thus they probably can not afford to sell.
    This will probably play out with the next bank who picks up the property, with the help of the FDIC….. (You and Me)

  22. 22
    Tim McB says:

    RE: Matt the Engineer @ 13

    Our family does too. You can’t beat the Washington beach; if you’re able to adjust your expectations on the weather.

  23. 23
    John K says:

    Ocean Shores nick name given by the people living in Grays Harbor County is “Open Sores”. It is such a depressing, dreary place, even though Hoquiam/Aberdeen/Cosmopolis is a depressing place, it is not as bad as Open Sores. Maybe because they are only 40 minutes from Olympia, a full service community. Seabrook is even further from Olympia, it is stuck out in a wilderness. Even the small hospital in Aberdeen is a long ways away if you need help. The only thing it has going for it above the beaches to the south is that it is built on a hill above most Tsunami levels. But as a retired person, I wouldn’t live in either place

  24. 24
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 15 – Kary..When was the last time a Tsunami struck those beaches and wiped everyone out? You have better odds of dying in a car crash or of dying of old age. You do still drive don’t you and you are still aging? Me thinks that acorn must have damaged your noodle. Worry about something meaningful…like global cooling.

  25. 25

    RE: Pegasus @ 24 – “When was the last time a Tsunami struck those beaches and wiped everyone out?”

    About 300 years ago. The thing is in Long Beach it’s a risk you cannot mitigate, where the likely result is death. If you don’t think that is a risk you should worry about, then I can only presume you don’t have earthquake insurance, but do have dental insurance, and don’t understand the type of risks that should be insured.


  26. 26
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 25 – I don’t think you understand risk when the odds of an event that happens about every 300-500 years is one that you need to worry about. As I said before you have a lot higher risk of dying in an auto crash. We do have lots of earthquakes that DON’T generate meaningful Tsunamis fairly often and so I used to believe in earthquake insurance until all the big insurance companies put a HUGE deductible in front of them paying for any damage. At that point I viewed self-insuring as the proper avenue. Do you have Tsunami insurance Kary? What will happen when that huge asteroid hits the globe and a 1000 foot Tsunami hits? Boo! Just another media driven something more for you to “worry” about Kary. Halloween must be a kick at your place.

  27. 27

    RE: Pegasus @ 26 – Thank you for proving my point that you don’t understand which risks require insurance. Just what I expected.

    It’s the potential damages that are important, not the probability. That’s extremely basic. There are four possible scenarios: (1) High damages, low probability (e.g. earthquakes in Washington, auto liability); (2) High damages, high probability; (3) Low damages, low probability; and (4) low damages, high probability. The most important to insure is type 1 and type 3 is optional. Insuring 2 would be too expensive, and insuring 4 would be stupid (e.g. most dental insurance).

    When the potential damages are death, that’s pretty significant, even if the probability is low. IMHO it’s not worth choosing to live in Long Beach when there are other places near the ocean you can live that don’t have the same risk.

  28. 28
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 27 – All I can say to that BS is I hope you can sleep at night when you appear to be very worried about things that rarely happen…sooooo….got that Tsunami insurance or not? High damages, very low probability…right in your worry zone. Boo!

  29. 29

    RE: Pegasus @ 28 – BS? Whatever. Live your life with your own misconceptions. If you really think it’s better to risk bankruptcy (or a six figure loss) than to pay $700 a month for earthquake insurance, I have nothing to say. Maybe I’ll take another guess and presume that you used to run WAMU’s residential loan department! ;-)

    BTW, why do you think that the insurance companies have such high deductibles on earthquake? Why do you think so few companies are even willing to write such policies? But you somehow think the insurance isn’t necessary because of the high deductibles and low probability. Seemingly if those were valid concerns, insurance companies would be all over writing such policies!

  30. 30

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 29 – That should have been $700 a year.

  31. 31
    One Eyed Man says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 29

    And if you own free and clear, maybe you can afford to self insure and the premium for earthquake insurance might be a bad investment. And if you don’t have any teeth, maybe the dental insurance isn’t such a great way to hedge risk either. ;-)

  32. 32

    RE: One Eyed Man @ 31 – I would think that the optimal point of not having earthquake would be maybe having about 40% equity. That way there would still be a decent chance that the bank would still non-judicially foreclose, and with the deductible (and costs of sale) your loss wouldn’t be 40%.

  33. 33
    Matt the Engineer says:

    @16 Oops. Seabrook. I had the family reunion at Seabrook, not Ocean Shores. It was beautiful and really fun. If every town were built for exploring by bicycle, the world would be a better place.

  34. 34
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Matt the Engineer @ 33 – How does a town like “Seabrook” operate? Is there an elected council and mayor? What sort of real power do the residents have in terms of policy decisions? Maybe the “Town Founder and President” who commented can chime in here if he is reading.

  35. 35
    Matt the Engineer says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 34 – I have no idea. I didn’t think to ask that when I went to the free wine tasting (and soft-sell real estate pitch) night.

    (runs off to Google) Ah, this PDF of the Master Deed should help. It mostly deals with property, but it lists a design review board, establishes a design code, specifies the deed can be changed through a 2/3 vote of land owners… ok, here’s something – it lists a homeowners’ association complete with a board of directors. I assume anthing that doesn’t fall under property rights would be settled there.

    Interesting: 1% of home sales goes to a community fund, half of which goes to low income projects throughout the county.

  36. 36
    joe dirt says:

    I read about Seabrook but was not interested. I prefer either going north to the San Juans which are more beautiful plus convenient, or heading down to Oregon because the beaches are great and it is a little sunnier. If they built a Seabrook on Camano Isand I would take a look.

  37. 37
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 29 – Kary…once again you twist my posts. First you twisted my statement about YOUR irrational fears of Tsunamis into an faulty insurance test, now you twist my answer by this twist..”you somehow think the insurance isn’t necessary because of the high deductibles and low probability” when talking about earthquake insurance. I never said there was a low probability of earthquakes did I? I said there are many and yes I would have an earthquake policy except for the avarice of the insurance companies. Their change, not mine, convinced me that I did not need it any longer when they changed their deductibles on earthquakes to limit what they pay out while they did not lower the cost of their policies. They all did it in collusion with each other. How could that happen? Most earthquakes create small damages if at all. Everyone now is self insuring the most common
    damages unless they want a huge premium payment. How many homes were completely destroyed when the last big earthquake struck Seattle in 2001? Very few if any. The damage was mainly to faulty structures, bridges and commercial properties. Why do auto insurance companies use your credit score to price your policy? Does your credit affect your driving abilities. Nope. The insurance companies designed a program to convince everyone that it did. Why? So they can jack up their rates. They were smart enough not to limit it to just race, where you live or income although that could have worked but think of the public outcry. Same game is played in medical insurance. The rates will always go up until someone says no. Stop the lunacy.

    Do I have dental insurance…yes but I don’t pay for it. Would I buy it if I had to? Yes as One Eye speculates I had the misfortune in my teen years to have a dentist that believed that the only good molar is one that is completed hollowed out and filled with toxic mercury. The man could find a cavity where no one else could. Luckily I had moved on by the time my wisdom teeth fully arrived and they were the only ones that escaped. Funny how that happened. Anyhow I have spent many years of filling removal and temporary fillings, and eventually caps and I have never paid a dime. Careful Kary…is that a Tsunami I see sneaking up on you?

  38. 38
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Matt the Engineer @ 35 – Yeah that 1% is probably something that the county demanded in order to allow development. I am pretty sure in San Juan County that 1% of every sale goes to the land trust, a similar sort of deal.

  39. 39
    Dirty_Renter says:

    RE: Crashcadia @ 21
    The FDIC is funded by bank assessments, not taxpayers.

  40. 40
    Snigliastic says:

    RE: Matt the Engineer @ 33
    Then traffic would suck and you’d have to deal with idiot bikers who feel like they own the road, and are not as vigilant as they should be.

  41. 41
    Crashcadia says:

    Re Dirty_Renter
    Yes, historicaly the funds came from banks themselves.

    However, the senate has now passed some new bills.
    FDIC – The substitute increases the borrowing authority of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) from $30 billion to $100 billion, provides temporary authority to exceed the $100 billion threshold (up to $500 billion) for necessary circumstances, and makes permanent the increase in federal guarantee for bank accounts from $100,000 to $250,000 per account.

    So they can now borrow up to $500 billion to shore up the system.
    So do we just create more cash and hope the Chinese will keep buying it?

    This will all come back to You and Me.

  42. 42
    Matt the Engineer says:

    RE: Snigliastic @ 40 – I suppose if “every town were built for exploring by bicycle” then traffic would be all but non-existant, unless you count bicycle traffic. And bikes really would own the road. And it would be the cars that would have to be careful, since they’d be the minority. I’m not seeing a problem with any of this.

  43. 43
    Casey Roloff says:

    a few things:

    Anyone who jumps to the conclusion of describing Seabrook as a contrived little beach town hasnt done their homework on the movement of pedestrian oriented developement vs. automobile oriented development. The most beautiful towns went through an infancy stage where people would judge before understanding how carefully thought out the community actually was. Bottom line is we have become accustomed to mediocre cookie cutter development.

    I challenge anyone to come up with a good example of growth in our state since the automobile was introduced? The reality is since then only sprawl based development has been built lacking the artistic approach and pedestrian focus that has made the best towns endure over time.

    The weather in Seabrook compared to the very popular Cannon Beach is almost identical. The big difference between the Oregon and Washington Coast is the built environment. The Oregon Coast has a village style in most communities and the Washington Coast fell into the sububan sprawl trap.

    Finally, the Seabrook Foundation was established to leave the communities surrounding Seabrook in a better place than when Seabrook started. The foundation is focused on improving education for local children, the environment, and local businesses.

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