So my husband and I are thinking about selling our condo in Belltown to move into a bigger place. We are constantly on the look out for new construction projects. There are two condos that caught our eyes, Lumen and Mosler Lofts.
Lumen is located at the corner of 5th and Mercer St, sitting on the former site of Tower Records. They had their public opening on Sat. Hewitt is the architect for Lumen as well as many Seattle's highly stylized building including The Klee and The McGuire in Belltown, and Harbor Steps in downtown Seattle. It is a concrete, steel and glass construction. The interior is design by renowned local designer, Garret Cord Werner who also designed the Avenue One condo and The Vine in Belltown.
The cool thing that I like about this construction is the clean look. From the exterior that has floor to ceiling glass to the interior, the moment you walk into their one bedroom model, you feel very comfortable with the wide hallway, tall ceilings and polished concrete floors. The layout is very functional. It reminds me very much of The Klee but with a higher end design. When you are purchasing new construction, the nice thing is the ability to customize the unit to your preference. Lumen definitely offers home buyers many options for upgrades. As an example, if you like more privacy for your bedroom, you can upgrade to a movable opaque glass wall. Worry about not having enough storage space? There’s always a Garret Cord designer bed and cupboard that has room for all your personal items.
If you don’t like the traditional wood finishes for your kitchen cabinet, go with the white enamel. Both are going to give you a clean look with the refrigerator and dishwasher hiding behind them, even the kitchen electrical outlet is encased into the unit, very clear and sleek looking.
The only thing (and a pretty big thing) that will keep a home buyer from picking Lumen is the price. Let’s take their one bedroom courtyard unit with the patio as an example. The asking price is $500,000 for a 676 square feet unit. I mean it’s nice to have a patio but for $739/square feet? It seems way over priced. I can purchase a bigger place for less money like the one bedroom in Mosler Lofts which starts at low $400,000. Or pay 5% more for a huge one bedroom which is 45% bigger and comes with a balcony.
So what about Mosler Lofts? This condo project is located on 3rd and Clay in Belltown. Since their opening in February, they have sold about 63% of the units. This is a high rise condo project. It has features similar to Lumen, the high ceiling, concrete and steel design. Mosler Lofts focuses more on using eco-friendly finishes. It also features hardwood flooring, exposed concrete ceiling and stainless steel appliances. Mosler Lofts has a great location. It is on a quiet street of Belltown, easily accessible to restaurants, cafes and stores and yet residents do not have to deal too much with the weekend noise coming from the bars and pubs along 1st Avenue.
If you are looking at investing, Mosler Lofts is a better buy than Lumen. In fact, I feel that Mosler Lofts should price their units higher. If they go 2-5% higher, I think the market will still be receptive to it. I was told the developer is going to raise their prices soon. Well, we’ll see how much higher.
Completion date end of 2006- early 2007
500-1,200 square feet
$200,000 to over $900,000
Completion Summer 2007
12 story project with 160 units
Low $200,000 to over $700,000
Both projects require 5% earnest money to write up an offer.
Technorati Tags: Lumen, Mosler, Seattle Condos, Seattle Lofts, Seattle Condominiums, Seattle Realtor, Mosler Lofts, Belltown condos, Queen Anne condos, Queen Anne condo, Belltown condo, Hewitt Architects, The Klee, The McGuire, Garret Cord Werner, Avenue One, The Vine, Williams Marketing, Windermere onsite
Hi Wendy- finally a discourse about Seattle area condos! With all the hype about condo development being the cornerstone of Seattle’s latest boom, I am surprised more people don’t have experiences to share…
I found your blog after googling Lumen… as it happens I just bought a condo there! I went through the same thought process as you mentioned when comparing The Mosler to Lumen. In the end, the biggest factor in my decision was the fact that while the Mosler is “just another high-rise” in an already hi-rise saturated Belltown, Lumen will be unique with its looks and features… ie. integrated flagship QFC, retail stores, and a large focus on design. Between that and the fact that the lot opposite is earmarked for The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters, (which is sure to be a destination unto itself) I think that Lumen’s location is also going to be a winner.
Interesting you mention The Klee- I used to live there! I did see the similarities but as you point out, the Lumen has a more upgraded and hip look and feel.
I hope to hear some more comments on the current development boom as well as people’s experiences in looking and buying…
Thanks for stopping by Peter. I totally agree Lumen is quite a unique project with all that you pointed out and more. My favorite is probably being upstairs from QFC! In fact, my husband is a huge fan of the mixed use projects and we almost bought the Tribeca back in ’03 primarily for the Safeway store underneath 🙂
Thanks for being one my first visitors (the blog has only been up a few days). Come back soon as I will be reviewing other buildings (old and new) on a regular basis!
Good research. My wife and I were looking over the weekend to find a nice studio getaway. We looked at the Mosler. Lumen was too high for our price range. The Parc has sold out their studio units. We were looking at Site 17 but I am concerned about the constant migrant dayworkers and seedy alley behind.
Any tips on upcoming developments with studios in the 200 range? Would like to stay in walking distance so prefer belltown or SLU area. Have checked out the Vulcan properties and have signed on the interest list.
Great question. Sounds like a good idea for a future blog entry, “$200k studios”
Stay tuned. If you need help right away, just contact me. Otherwise, I’ll try and post something about that within the next week 🙂
Your write up on both is great. I also did the exact same review however my review of Lumen was not as extensive.
The main turn off for Lumen was location. Even though it is right next to where I work, literally, its in a very congested and noisy area. I have lived in a area before where there was a lot of car noise. That sucked!. Lumen will be very noisy.
Mosler is 12 stories and is not on a congested parkway. Yes, Mosler is right by Denny, it will not be as bad as Mercer street.
The other issue I had with Lumen is the height. It is only 3 stories, and Mosler is 12. I wanted a high rise and wanted to get higher off the ground.
Also Mosler is more of a loft style with the exposed ceilings and walls.
I was also hearing that Lumen is going to charge a lot for the options. Anybody hear about this?
So I picked a 625 sq open 1 bedroom with a south facing balcony on the 7th floor. The price was comparable to Lumen (so Mosler must of raised prices already) and the location is still close to my job. (of course there is a law of nature that says when I move into Mosler my job will move to the Eastside!)
All in all, I think my new Mosler loft will be a good investment. (unless the Puget Sound starts to rise due to green house effects! Then my condo will be a beach side condo!)
Congrats! Sound like a great place!
I just received my option sheet from Mosler, and for most the options I want it will be around 30K.
My question to you since you are experience in this matter or to anyone else who wants to chime in,
Do certain options actually increase the resale value?
Are there options to steer away from?
How do you recommend the financing of the options?
I thought this would be a fitting place for these questions since these are Mosler options.
Generally, most upgrades will increase the resale value — though they rarely result in a strong financial ROI. I generally advise my clients to get the upgrades they think will enhance their quality of life; if they don’t plan to live in the unit themselves, I generally advise them to go easy on or pass on the upgrades.
Obviously, every situation is different and it depends on your goals, budget, and game plan for the unit. Your buyer’s agent should be able to help you with this analysis since some upgrades are better at retaining value than others. If you are using the sales center’s agent only, just keep in mind who they’re working for 😉
I also found your blog after going into the Mosler sales center. They have a printout of this blog but now that I’m here I see they left out all the good about Lumen! Not very honest!
Anyway, I also did the comparison between both buildings and in the end decided on Lumen. What worried me about Mosler is that there is NOTHING on 3rd Ave right now so I’m sure there will be years of construction noise. I’ve lived in it and it is worse than traffic any day. I wish it was down on First where it’s all built up already. It also looks like just another Belltown condo building. There isn’t anything else like the Lumen building both inside and out. Plus when they make improvement to Mercer it will be amazing. Don’t get me wrong, Mosler is nice, just a little same-old same-old for me. Lumen is so different that it is worth a little bit higher price. Wendy, do you think Lumen’s unique attributes will make it better for resale than in your typical Belltown condos like Mosler? It seems resale there isn’t doing very well. I’d love to know what you think.
First of all, I didn’t know the Mosler sales center was redistributing and certainly didn’t know they were editing my blog. I’m part flattered by the redistribution and part defuddled by the editing. Redacting the good things about Lumen sounds odd, I’m hoping they used the “….” to show that it was an excerpt. (similar to review quotes in movie ads)
Anyway, will Lumen’s uniqueness pay off in the long run? That’s a $600k question 🙂 Certainly, if Mercer improvements are a big success, demand for Lumen will benefit. And you’re right about it’s unique design as well. On the other hand, some might argue the premium they’re asking for right now already reflects all of the future goodness in which case it might be a wash. Those who think the premium is too high would argue better returns are to be found elsewhere.
Allow me to use a fancy house and a good house as a generic example. If I bought a fancy house today, I would be buying it at a premium over what I’d have to pay for other good houses (let’s say it is 2X as expensive as the good houses). In order for the fancy house to be a superior investment, I’d have to be convinced that the future premium of the fancy house will be even bigger down the road than it is today (e.g., perhaps I think it will be 3x as expensive as good houses in the future).
Years later, if the fancy house has the same relative premium (e.g., 2X good house prices) over other good houses, I’m generally even and it would be an average investment. If the premium people are willing to pay is smaller (e.g., 1.75X good house prices), I’m generally at a relative loss.
People who buy Lumen believe that not only will the current premium hold, but that it will expand. I should also note that, there’s also the value of the higher quality of life you get while you’re living in the fancy house which is hard to quantify but should be kept in mind. At the end of the day, your Realtor should help you do this kind of analysis and map out your choices so you make the best investment for your specific goals and objectives. Best of luck with the purchase!
You may also find this post on Tribeca relevant to your analysis.
I would also like to ask you if being in Queen Ann versus Bell Town makes a difference for you? These are really two different neighborhoods with their own characteristics. So lets say both are equal and all the construction and expansion work aside, do you prefer Queen Ann over Bell Town?
I’m not Hannah but was faced with the same decision a few years ago. If you’re single or recently married with no kids, Belltown is hard to resist — esp since you know you will likely not be able to live there once you do have kids.
Queen Anne on the other hand is def a nice place to live with a quieter lifestyle let still close to Belltown and Downtown. From an investment pov, I’d argue Belltown is more desirable since Queen Anne has more comparables (Green Lake, Capitol Hill, etc.) whereas there really is only one Belltown 🙂
I agree with Tom.
I know that this is off the topic but has anyone heard how the Madison Loft auction went?
Somebody ought to tell LumenLife that people don’t like to install new flash players to their PCs and Macs. I would have
liked to view their site, but can’t unless I install. No thanks. Appreciate your review, though!
Thanks for the comments, I will forward your feedback to Lumen.
Also considering Lumen, but turned off by totally useless (slow and zero information) website. Someone needs to inform their marketing departments that just because it costs $800/sq ft doesn’t mean we want to wade through a load of spiffy, but ultimately burdensom, flash goo.
Hi Danny, I have forward your feedback to them.
Just had to post this:
I am so happy that the cement strike is over!!!!
I am buying at Mosler and I am so glad it did not go longer!
I’m seriously considering a condo at Lumen but am having a hard time deciding whether a unit in the center courtyard or a unit with a view would be a better investment. I know that traditionally ‘a view’ can make a unit more valuable, but since this building is only 3 stories, there isn’t much of a view [of the city] from any unit. On the other hand, the center courtyard (and patios on some units) are fairly unique in comparison to the towers that are proliferating in this city. The thought of a more secluded area away from busy Mercer St is a big pull.. What’s your take on this?
I’d def go for the courtyard. 3rd floor city facing windows don’t constitute a view in my opinion.
I would go with the courtyard. The city view would be considered more like an average view. It is more likely that the courtyard will be a better selling point.
Hi Wendy –
Do you think it’s too late to purchase a unit at Lumen now? I just inquired about the price and it’s currently $319 for a 579sq ft and $349 for 640sq ft. I really like the project but i fear that it’s overpriced now. What’s your opinion about it?
Sounds quite reasonable to me. I would be careful about weird layouts, windows facing dumpsters, etc. since your not exactly getting the pick of the litter in terms of specific units. On the other hand, I personally like the building and the prices you’re quoting struck me as quite reasonable.
In terms of price per square feet, it seems to be in line with what the market is offering right now. To find out if this particular unit is priced at fair market value, I would suggest doing a detailed comparable market analysis. The analysis should cover:
1.) Comparable units in the same building
2.) Comparable units on the market
3.) For the same amount of dollars, can you get anything better?
I hear Lumen is dropping prices on some of their homes.
Hi Rick, I talked to one of their representatives and they said that there is no change to their price.
Currently a homeowner in Magnolia interested in entering the Condo arena. Short of scheduling time w/ RE agents like yourself, would appreciate recommendations on the best form of researching the condo ‘culture’ in the the Seattle Area.
Undecided if I should invest only or swap out house for condo living.
I’d go to lots of open houses, presentation centers, and read blogs like this one as well as other good ones which I have listed on the bottom right corner of each page.
Sooner or later you’ll want to bring in the services of a RE agent who can help you weigh the pros and cons of a swap versus investment-only.
It’s obviously a big decision and one that should be taken very seriously with thorough research, analysis, and soul searching. A good agent can help you with the first 2 😉
Just wanted to say that great blog! We have been really interested in buying Lumen for a few months now and all the questions we were wondering about, were more or less answered here and I’m glad to see that most of them match the opinion we already had.
Thanks Anu. Glad you found SCR helpful!
i am looking for a condo in the belltown area that has dog runs or a dog park on site. Could you do a review of pet friendly properties?
Great idea for a future review Janine. I’ll add it to the list of potential posts.
Anyone know of a website for Lumen resales? We bought the P floorplan (2 bedroom) last summer but have since moved into a new townhouse that better fits our lifestyle. I wanted to know if anyone was aware of a website where you could list resales that have not yet closed (similar to 2200condos.com).
P.S. We have a 1 bedroom unit at Tribeca on the market if anyone is interested! http://www.tribeca211.com
I am buying an unit at Mosler and decided to start a Mosler Lofts blog so the future residents can have a place for sharing and expressing their ideas.
Please stop buy if interested.
I purchased a unit at Mosler, on the east side of the building, and just last week discovered that all of the units on that side of the building that were originally supposed to have floor to ceiling windows, DO NOT. I called Williams Marketing to find out why I wasn’t notified of this MAJOR change and I was stunned to hear that the Mosler reps were specifically told NOT to notify any of the home buyers about this change as they felt taking away 1/3 of the windows was minor. I was also told that only a few of the early home buyers, including myself, weren’t aware their units would no longer have floor to ceiling windows. Are all the home buyers on the east side of the building aware they won’t have floor to ceiling windows?
I posted this on the Mosler Lofts blog, started by Seth, but figured it couldn’t hurt by adding it here too.
I’m confused. Doesn’t the sales center represent the buyers and if so, aren’t they obligated to tell?
The people working at the sales center work for a marketing firm that was hired by the developer. So they actually represent the devolper. But they’re also there to help answer questions etc., for buyers and/or potential buyers.
I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. These kinds of changes are called out as possibilities in the purchase agreements and come with the territory with pre-construction sales.
It is a big deal, most of these are small units. blocking out 1/3 of your natural light makes a big impact. I bought in the early stages and was told that their would be floor to ceiling windows. This was a selling point to me as the unit is a studio.
Wendy – Is there anything buyers can do about this?
I hope you, and everyone else who is unhappy about this, will come to the next buyer event on July 26th. Perhaps we can get some answers if enough of us speak out about it. I have tried to address this issue on my own and they completely avoided the subject.
In general, it is not uncommon to come across pre-construction contracts which include clauses to allow the developer to make changes to floor plans, design elements, construction methods, materials, and finishes. The extent of the permissible changes are usually not clear and include words like “consistent” or “materially similar” or “reasonable.” This allows the developer to maintain agility when encountering construction challenges but does run the risk of going too far. I think you should seek the advice of legal counsel on your question or ask your Realtor to start a dialogue with the developer to see what your options area.
This is why you or your agent should research the developer’s track record and reputation. When there is grey area like that, how they treated previous buyers on other projects is the best way to cover your bases before picking a porject.
Any builder rep, or seller’s agent, is representing the SELLER! They are not there to represent the buyer. Their job is to sell units for the seller. Please get yourself a buyer’s agent before buying real estate. The seller will pay your agent’s commission and you will have someone on YOUR side which is very important in a transaction. As a Realtor, I do not like to practice dual agency, which is what these “sales” or “presentation centers” are actually doing. Do yourself a BIG favor and get a buyer’s agent!
They should have a law that requires the sales center inform buyers that the on-site agent is employed by that particular project and that they have the right to retain an independent agent.
I’m sure the developers all contribute to the politicians’ campaigns so this is probably pie in the sky.
As the Lumen has been finished for some time now and the Mosler is just finishing up I can say that te Mosler is WAY BETTER!!! We looked at both and went for Mosler a long time ago, now we are soooo glad we did. The location was always superior to us but it turns out the features of M are far superior. The Lumen was very dissapointing when we toured the furnished units last Spring, it has taken them quite some time to sell out which is understandable. The lack of privacy on the courtyard side is oppressive and living on Mercer would be dismal.
Liens at Mosler have been fully released! Great building now with clear title!