In Part 1of this Blog Series we covered how the Seattle waterfront is undergoing an epic change that will forever change the face of the city from the water’s edge. That change is the replacement of the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep bore tunnel, and the revitalization of the Alaskan Way waterfront. We focused on condominiums near the south portal of the new tunnel in Pioneer Square and then in Part 2 we covered condos in the West Edge and Market District with the likely impacts on them, both good and bad.
The goal of this series is to bring some clarity to what’s going on near our downtown condo buildings and help folks make decisions about where they might want live if they are looking into buying. And for current condo owners in the affected areas, some information to help you decide if staying put and enjoying what’s to come is best, or if you might want to sell and move up to a different condo.
For part 3 of this series, we continue north along the tunnel route up into the Belltown neighborhood and ending at the location of new north portal, which affects the Denny Triangle and South Lake Union areas as well. We are adding in video commentaries into this part of series as well and would love your feedback as to if they were helpful.
This post is perfectly timed, as Bertha (the boring machine) just started her official journey and took her first big bite of Seattle soil recently. The tunneling has officially begun! She will move at roughly 6 feet per day initially.
Buildings Most Likely Affected in:
Belltown Lofts – 66 Bell St
This condo building is a well-known one when you talk about the viaduct because its southeast corner literally appears to be touching the viaduct (although there is actually 10-12 inches of space). Beltown Lofts will have one of the largest positive impacts I feel. Currently i'ts not just the viaduct noise, which you can hear inside some of the south and east facing units, but it's the dark space under the viaduct which creates a big barrier between this condo and Belltown and the Pike Place Market, as well as being quite dark and eerie at night. Also the removal of the viaduct here at Western and Bell will open up to some future possibilities for walking to the market as well as the waterfront without having to walk under the viaduct. This is one of my Top 5 Buildings to keep an eye on after the viaducts removal.
Video of Belltown Lofts
Pomeroy Condominiums – 2319 1st Ave
The Pomeroy, especially the west facing units, will have a great improvement by the reduction of noise, dust, as well as a view improvement because right now you can see traffic flying in and out of the south entrance to the Battery Street tunnel right outside the west units. The renderings show a much more tamed down Western Avenue. Also the walking route to the market and the waterfront will be much more pleasurable according to the drawings showing the new area without the elevated shadow of the viaduct there.
Austin Bell Condos- 2324 1st Ave
Although the Austin Bell condos are not right on the viaduct, the west facing units have a pretty big view of the Battery Street Tunnel entrance to the viaduct, and even walking outside the condo building on 1st Avenue you can hear the roar of the roadway, so I think this building will also benefit from the removal of the Battery Street Tunnel and the viaduct.
Site 17 Condos- 2540 Western Ave
The Site 17 Condos sit right in the bend of the viaduct as it enters the Battery Street Tunnel. The south facing units will have a dramatically different outlook and a big reduction in road noise, dust etc. once the changes take place. Also the southbound off ramp to Western Avenue will be going away, which is currently right at the southwest corner of the condo building. Because of this, they might enjoy a bit less sound from the stop and go traffic at the traffic light there. Several of the south facing units have large outdoor terraces that face the viaduct currently, and I can only image that the outdoor experience will be greatly improved.
Belltown Court – 2414 1st Ave and 2415 2nd Ave
Belltown Court condominiums sit immediately adjacent to Battery Street, which has the Battery Street Tunnel beneath. South facing condo units currently have the noise and dust from the tunnel as the tunnel has open grating directly below that vents the tunnel. This brings noise especially when those units have their windows open. This tunnel will no longer be needed so I feel Belltown Court will benefit from this change and the addition of the new deep bore tunnel as well. Also walking outside on 1st Avenue around this condo building is a bit noisy from the viaduct and Battery Tunnel entrance as well. Should also be a much more enjoyable jaunt once that is removed/abandoned.
Video of Belltown Court, Pomeroy and Site 17
Buildings Most Likely Affected in:
DENNY TRIANGLE (at the North Portal of NEW Tunnel)
Marselle Condominiums – 699 John Street
The Marselle Condominiums are a newer constructed condo building that sit north of Denny on the west side of HWY 99 right where the current tunnel starts and the off ramp from HWY 99 to Denny is. This is one of my Top 5 Buildings to keep an eye on as the new deep bore tunnel is completed. The key benefit for Marselle is the relocation of the tunnel entrance and exit, its ‘portal’. Currently HWY 99 roars right by Marselle and the east facing units have a front row seat to all that noise and traffic. The new tunnel portal will be about 3-4 blocks farther north, which will cover the HWY 99 noise basically by putting it underground where Marselle is located. Additionally HWY 99 is a big barrier between Marselle and the South Lake Union neighborhood. There is no direct access to the east to South Lake Union from Marselle unless you walk, ride or drive up to Denny first. This will all change as several new cross traffic roads will be connected from the west (near Seattle Center) over to South Lake Union, including John Street which is the front door to Marselle. This will be a great improvement for access to South Lake Union and all of the amenities in that neighborhood. Keen an eye on this one!
Video of Marselle
Insignia Towers 6th Ave and Bell St (Under Construction)
Even though this condo building isn’t even built yet, its location will be improved, I feel, with the removal of the Battery Street Tunnel (and the viaduct). Insignia is bordered on the north by Battery Street where, similar to the Belltown Court condos, they are exposed to the noise and dust from the tunnel vents. With this all going away, it does help the future residents that will be living in the north tower, which is yet to be built.
Video of Insignia
Veer Lofts – 401 9th Ave N
Although not directly having views or noise affects from the removal of the viaduct and Battery Street Tunnel, this condo building gets an honorable mention here. With the new tunnel, comes new on ramps and off ramps to and from HWY 99 near the north portal. This building might negatively be affected by increased traffic and road noise in the South Lake Union neighborhood. Currently the northbound lanes of HWY 99 have an exit at Mercer Street. That off ramp is going away and a new one is being put one block to the south at Republican. Also a new east west connection is being created from the Seattle Center area, also the home to the Gates Foundation Campus, and the new on ramp to south HWY 99 is off of Harrison at the new 6th Avenue being constructed currently. Harrison Street is a direct connection to all of this and Veer Lofts is located within 2-3 blocks off all of this being at 9th and Harrison. This will likely bring some new traffic to that area as drivers come into and out of South Lake Union for Amazon, Fred Hutch, etc.
WRAP UP OF PART 3
Aside from the obvious issues with construction, traffic due to construction and noise from the construction, it appears most of the condo buildings in Belltown, Denny Triangle and near the north portal of the new tunnel will benefit greatly from the removal of the two level viaduct and the affiliated Battery Street Tunnel. A negative could be a potential increase in traffic on some of the east/west streets near the new North Portal since the connection to and from HWY 99 is changing, this will likely re-route traffic in the Denny Triangle and South Lake Union area near Dexter, Denny and Mercer. Although, those neighborhoods are no strangers to traffic and road noise currently.
In the last section of this Series, I’ll summarize and wrap up with my picks for the top 5 condo buildings that I believe will likely have the largest benefit or even negative impacts from the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep bore tunnel. Sometimes it really is all about location, location, location.
Click here for a video simulation of the new tunnel
Click here for a map of the tunnel route and for more general information about the project.
Click here to see a rendering of the North Portal as it will look at Harrison and Republican Streets
Photo courtesy of WSDOT
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