Let's start in Midtown. Escala (currently, Seattle's largest condominium project under construction) rolled out their launch of Club Cielo a few weeks ago. What's the big deal with Club Cielo? For one thing, the 25,000 square foot club will be managed by Columbia Hospitality, which manages Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie and will also be running the soon to be opened Four Seasons.
The Club also takes up the entire 2nd floor of the building and includes a private dinning area, spa and fitness center (exercise classes, pedicure, manicure, 2 resistant lap pools, massages, steam room), 18 seat wine cave, theater for screenings/meetings, business center, cocktail lounge, dog run, and full service outdoor terrace with menu.
This private club is only for residents and not open to the public. There is a mandatory minimum monthly spend of $250 / month (this is in addition to the homeowner dues). Exclusive services include access to private chefs for private parties, house keeping, and dog walking. Club Cielo is probably one of the most luxurious amenities that you can find in Seattle condo living but it definitely comes at a price.
So far, approximately 40% of the homes in Escala are sold. The developer is still withholding some units for later release. Construction is going on up to the 19th floor, averaging one floor every 8-10 days. Estimated completion will be around September 2009. Two restaurants will be going into the street level and will be announced March/April 2009.
During this slow market, you would think that prices in Escala will be coming down. Instead, just a few months ago, they announced a price increase (between 3 and 7%) for their unsold homes. Right now, the price per square foot is averaging around $975. No buyers' incentives are available for this project. According to the sales center, the construction of Escala is fully funded so there's no way you will see it turning into a luxury apartment.
Besides the location and sheer size of the building, the most unique selling point for this project is Club Cielo. Furthermore, every home comes with a balcony (with the smallest one around 120 square feet). The private foyer entryways give most units a more private residential feel than long hallway you see in most typical condos. Since the building is in a dense part of town, floor to ceiling windows will help bring in as much sunlight as possible. The biggest drawback for the building is the high homeowner dues (79 cents per square foot). Overall, this is a great building if you aren't budget sensitive and are looking for a condo that has larger square footage and allows you to pamper yourself with everything under the same roof without stepping out the building.
(Updated 11/13/08: The sales center has informed me that Club Cielo is partially open to the public where 100 memberships will be available to non-residents.)