8th and Pine has a new name. The new condo/hotel construction project set for completion in 2009 is now called AVA. With the new name, comes an apparent change in the project itself. Since I last reported, the tower seems have shrunk from 45 to 38 floors. The number of condos on the other hand seems to have grown from 180 to 211. "The Residences" (as the condos will be dubbed), are expected to range in size from 700 to over 2,000 square feet.
In addition there will be an 8,000+ sq ft penthouse. Prices for the units will range from the low $400K to $5MM. Condos will be graced with European inspired interiors, high ceilings, balconies and air-conditioning. At the same time, residents will be able to take advantage of the luxury hotel amenities which will include a heated outdoor swimming pool, a fitness club and a "signature" restaurant.
Those who want the luxuries of the hotel experience such as housekeeping, valet parking and in-suite catering will find it at AVA. Views from some of the units will be to the water, while others will be city views of adjacent buildings. The hotel itself will be run by Executive Hotels, a non-chain manager of luxury hotels.
Here are some questions that I asked Dean, President and CEO of Realogics, a marketing company for AVA and several other condos in Seattle.
1.) Hotel/condo combos used to be really new but now there are 4 (completed and under construction) in Seattle. How would you differentiate AVA from the others?
An enviable location. While there will always be other hotel/condo opportunities - AVA will be the closest hotel and condominium development to the retail core (considered 6th & Pine). The fact that residents and hotel guests can experience the vibrancy of this area on a daily basis means it'll be the preferred choice in both presale and in resale. And beyond shopping, there are dozens of restaurants within walking distance not to mention Parmount Theatre, ACT Theatre and 5th Avenue Theatre are each within a few blocks. When driving, access to and from main arterials and I/5 is also convenient.
2.) What is the purchasing process for AVA? When will you have pricing for the units? What do you do to make the purchasing process itself extraordinary?
We'll be hosting a series of design preview events in the coming months. Interested homebuyers that register online at www.liveatava.com will be invited to attend, which will be the first opportunity to experience the preliminary floor plans, specifications, and introductory pricing ahead of the public sales debut this fall. If attendees like what they see, we'll accept a unit specific reservation to hold that home until it's officially released for sale later this year.
We feel this process allows the buyer to hold an option for a preferred plan while the product offering is confirmed and all the necessary purchase documention is prepared. When the sales center is completed and a homebuyer can fully experience a built out model home, review finishes, etc. reservation holders will be able to convert to priority Purchase & Sale Agreements – without risk of missing out on their preferred home and without needing to brave the sales rush typically associated with a grand opening sales event.
3.) There has been several price drops for 2200 Westlake's units. Some potential AVA buyers may be looking at that data and be concerned. What would you say to them?
I think 2200 and AVA are distinctive in so many ways it's hard to correlate one building's sales performance with another. Firstly, 2200 was nearly sold out upon it's opening in April 2005 and there wasn't the same sensitivity to investor sales then as there is now. So, it's fair to assume that a high percentage of the units on the market today at 2200 are investors and once closed, they all came back on the market at the same time. This spike in supply can put downward pressure on values temporarily as sellers compete for buyers.
Eventually, this inventory will burn off and prices will rise again. AVA will likely limit the number of investor sales, which will help preserve home values for owner-occupied units and actually make the limited number of resale units even more valuable. This is certainly a trend we'll find in most new construction projects these days and is one reason why Seattle is an appreciating market while other markets across the US aren't.
4.) What else would you like to share with readers?
AVA will be attractive to those seeking both the excitement of the city and yet prefer some solace in their living environment. This is the "ZING" and the "ZEN" that is talked about. It's going to have one of the most dynamic social scenes in downtown Seattle with a lobby bar and signature restaurant concept (to be released later this year) and a large, elevated outdoor pool deck and bar overlooking Pine Street. It reminds me of the SKYBAR in the Mandrian Hotel in Los Angeles. It's this kind of amenity programming that will set the community apart – the developer really knows how to attract guests and offers residents the opportunity to tap into the energy or find sanctuary at home.
The floor plans and interior specifications are still being finalized at this time but there are some very progressive design ideas being programmed. There will be a collection of home types ranging from more efficiently designed homes (perfect for second home buyers) up to large estates well over 2,000 sq. ft. It looks like the penthouse is already reserved.
I also feel the views are significant. Being that AVA will be developed within an already established neighborhood and being that no development opportunities exist to the east of the site, the views being offered at AVA will confidently remain such. Too often in-fill developments offer great views but then future development occurs and can compromise this important attribute.
I'd encourage interested homebuyers to register online at www.liveatava.com for more information.
AVA condos slideshow
(Update 2009: Ava project is on hold)
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