With a limited supply and a central location in Pioneer Square, the Nord apartment conversion is about to go on the market. Located within easy walking distance of the ball parks and downtown, the new condos will be surrounded by food and entertainment options (as well as some potentially salty characters but some would argue this is part of Pioneer square charm).
Pre-sales for the studio and two bedroom units will range from 379 to 792 sq. ft. with prices starting at $199K to the low $300ks. The historic building was originally built in 1890 after the great Seattle Fire and served as a hotel. The hotel functioned as the Nord Hotel from 1915 to 1969 and was named after the manager Frank Nordquist.
The low-rise building, scheduled for completion in Fall of 2007, will house seven condos and is being developed by Pioneer properties who are also responsible for Queen’s Court and Betsy Ross. The pet-friendly condos will feature cork floors, Terrazzo countertops, stainless steel appliances, porcelain floor tiles and new bathroom fixtures.
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I checked out the two bedroom options at The Nord, thinking they were low threes. They are just under $400k. The unit I saw had the bedrooms in the building’s interior, away from the street noise. That seems smart. I considered renting a few blocks away, and it looked great on a Sunday afternoon, but I walked through on a Friday at 1:00AM and it was bedlam. Note that the surface street option for the viaduct replacement might switch the parking lanes on 1st Ave S. to traffic lanes (with potential structural impact to the older buildings from vibration). That viaduct is a curse. I hope the developer considers earthquake insurance, but with a tiny HOA extras will be expensive. I gave the saleswoman my card and never heard back… so I don’t know how motivated they are to sell and at $389k or $399k I’m not sure how motivated I am to buy.
Surprising the saleswoman never contacted you. If I were the owner, I’d have words with whoever is managing that sales center. I agree the 1AM bedlam factor is a major concern.
I’m currently waiting to move into a unit I just purchased at the Nord, and very much looking foward to it. The units have been completely rebuilt from the walls in, and the exposed brick is amazing.
I’m not sure what the delay in posting interior photos or at least floorplans is, but from what I saw, the two bedrooms are amazing. One in particular will possibly be two floors with a spiral iron staircase.
In terms of the lack of response from the sales office, I experienced the same thing and later found out they had phone troubles for a period of 2-3 days.
All things considered, this building should turn out really well. Sure I’m concerned about the mayhem that is Saturday night in Pioneer Square, but…it’s tolerable and pretty harmless. And a building like this is just too rare to pass up.
Just a warning to those not familiar wioth the area. I have lived in the area for a while and the bar across the street from the Nord, is one of the loudest and rowdiest in a infamously rowdy part of town. It looks inocous during the week, but walk by on a saturday night, as another person noted here, and it’s kind of crazy. And one more warning, the building is shorter than those next to it and those across the street. This means that it misses most of the sunlight that the other, taller buildings get. The top-floor units in this building have skylights, which should help, but expect the finished untis to be on the dark side (not literally, of course):-) On the plus side, the building is beautiful, and the small size should make it a cozy community for those who buy in.
I live in The Florentine, a few blocks south of the Nord. It can indeed get loud and boisterous in Pioneer Square on the weekend evenings, but that’s been the case in Seattle almost since the Denny party came over here from Alki.
Despite the reputation for crime, though, I’ve really liked living down here.
A building like that- with so few units- has definite strong points and weak ones. Costs for stuff can be higher, but getting to a consensus with the HOA might be easier with that few people. Then again, just one or three disruptive/disagreeable owners can really throw wrenches into the works.
I almost wonder if a building like that wouldn’t be better as a co-op rather than a condo, so the owners could be more of “one mind”.
Wendy, does Washington State law allow for co-ops like they have on the east coast or in other parts of the country?
There are co-ops in Washington but they’re fairly rare. Many buyers steer clear of them due to their restrictive nature and some banks may find them more risky since it’s harder to foreclose on them. On the other hand, some people love them because they can be more of “one mind” for the reasons you mentioned.
Yes, they do. They are most commonly found in older buildings in the Capitol Hill and Queen Anne neighborhoods.
I’ve been looking to buy at the Florentine building, any feedback or comments you can provide would be great. Since it’s a block south from the bar scene is it noisy inside the units and also how does this building compare to other as far as value appreciation?
The Pioneer Square development plan looks really cool, it is almost a main motivator to move into the area. Check this out if you haven’t already seen this. http://www.seattlevision.org/renderings.html
I actually looked at the Florentine for myself a few years back. Their units offer a lot of space for the money. You’ll need to be careful about what direction your unit faces to consider environmental noise as well as sunlight issues.
At the moment, I think Pioneer Square is probably a much more promising place to catch some nice gains in the coming years since other parts of Seattle like Queen Anne and Belltown have less remaining head room for short term growth. There’s always the risk Pioneer Square does not develop in the way we’re all hoping — that’s part of the risk/reward equation.
I’ve lived in the Nord building for almost six years, in the unit mentioned above with the spiral staircase. Overall, it’s a great building. The street noise in the front units (i.e., all the other two-bedrooms) is only a real problem if it’s hot in the summer and the windows are open, as long as you aren’t too light of a sleeper. Of course, these days I’m woken up by renovation noise, but I don’t want to get into that.
If you have other questions about the building or neighborhood, I’d be happy to answer.
One word of warning: as part of the conversion process, they (Pioneer Properties/Live Historic) gave me the required 60-day signed offer for one price, but then a month later claimed it was a “mistake” and raised the offer by $31K. As far as I can tell, they simply decided they could sell it for more; the original price appeared elsewhere as well. I’m currently waiting to hear from Ben Rankin about whether I’ll have to go to court to enforce the first offer. So if trust is important to you, you should at least get their side of the story.
Thanks for the info!
To the current tenant above, thank you for your information! I, too, noticed that prices had been bumped up from initial printings in their brochures. Seems to be around an additional $5,000 for some, a lot more for others.
How is noise between units? It seems the thick walls and floors (as well as the upcoming newer cork floors) would prevent much sound between units, but I was curious.
Also, is there any street noise in the back of the building?
There’s been around a month of delays in the conversion process, so I hope things are now going smoothly. Thanks for any information you can provide!
I too am moving into one of the units in the Nord pretty soon and I’m pretty excited. Construction is delayed as mentioned above, but Live Historic has been pretty responsible thus far and when things don’t look exactly as planned they seem to be willing to take the time and money to make it right. I work near Pioneer Square and I go to the gym on First and King (Seattle Fitness) which recently got a complete makeover. And with Starbucks taking over that building on First and King I really think Pioneer Square is beginning to gentrify and will continue over the next few years. I hope it still keeps the artists, galleries, and trinket shops its really one of the great charms that make Pioneer Square such a unique place in Seattle.
Agree w Karney. Of all the Seattle neighborhoods out there, I think Pioneer Square, and I’d probably add Freemont, are the two places where investors will likely make handsome gains over the next few years.
The back apartments (the studios and my place) are actually probably quieter than the front. After a game or on weekend nights occasional drunken crowds wander through. And there’s a fair amount of urination, but that’s pretty quiet. Of course, it’s less scenic than the front and possibly less interesting (depending on your definition) but those units have balconies (mine has all the plants and the yard sign). Jackson & Main don’t have too much traffic, though you will hear occasional siren (or motorcycles, especially on Thursday nights).
However, Rob Tang at Pioneer Properties recently mentioned that they are looking into bringing the dumpsters back into the alley (it’s currently a “dumpster-free alley” handled by CleanScapes, which means you have to buy special bags for your garbage). This would be bad; dumpsters in an alley are very loud, and encourage, um, behavior you don’t want to see (I lived here when there used to have them). I don’t think it will happen, though; I explained this in detail, and will fight against it if necessary.
I believe the new floors should block noise between floors, and for the most part the walls are good. However, on the far east and west ends of the building some noise gets through between adjacent apartments (1&2, 5&6, and mine with each of the studios). I don’t know if that’s the wall itself or bad connection to the exterior brick wall. Walls to the neighboring buildings are of course perfectly quiet.
Not sure about the delays. They are redoing a lot of the flooring in the units; I guess it’s a good sign if they redo something when there is a problem. On the other hand, they’ve given me several estimates on when they would bring the roof deck back (they removed the old one in February).
No word on the offer, so I’ve spoken with a lawyer.
Thanks to everyone who’s been posting their experiences with the building. I just took a tour and everything looks to be coming along nicely. (For those buying a studio, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that CleanScapes continues to maintain that back alley)
To Karney, how are your floors looking? They seem to be having some problems and are now installing them for the second time. Are you still expected to close on time?
From the people I spoke to, it seems that it’s not the sales office that’s doing the great job, but the construction crew. One guy in particular was really helpful in giving us details on some of the troubles they’ve run into. More honest and informative then the selling agent, in my opinion.
The last time I looked at it (a week ago), the cork floors were being torn up in one of the studios which was being inspected a few days before my unit. As of a week ago, my old floor was still intact. I’m moving into unit #1. I really like the idea of cork, I’ve walked on cork barefeet a few times before and its really nice on my ankles whereas hardwood can be hard on the ankles (at least for me, but I’m pretty young). But seems like whoever applied the finish on the cork the first time did a bad job (streaks in the finish) and they’re willing to redo it. I didn’t even know that cork needed to be finished after being laid down.
In any case, the units look really nice, the finishes are high-end. I hope to close on-time, delays really suck. The construction people are extremely nice. I found the people at Live Historic quite helpful and I understand that they are pretty much at mercy of how the sub-contracting goes.
I can’t wait to meet some my new neighbors after we move in (and see how they’ll be using and designing the space in their units). I really enjoy the Pioneer Square area and the location of the Nord is just amazing.
As an update to my comments above: the Live Historic folks are honoring their original offer, so that does speak well of them. I expect to close in a few weeks. A couple other people have moved in (both seem nice), and a couple units are still in renovation. One thing I forgot to mention about alley noise (for #4): a glass blower/gallery across the alley has a loud fan, but that’s only during the day, and I heard a rumor they might move somewhere else. If you’re thinking about #5 or #2, ask me about my ideas for (respectively) reflectors next to the skylight or a climbing wall in the air shaft. 🙂
If you are interested in the pioneer square area, here is another project that looks promising:
I don’t think they’ve even broken ground on construction yet, but the loft-style design looks nice.
Whoever asked about the Florentine… there’s presently 4 or 5 units for sale in here. As Wendy mentioned, you get a TON of space for the money with price per square foot running around $375 or even less.
Right now there’s one across the hall from me listed at $410K that has over 1300 square feet. I’m in a 1640 square foot 2BD/1.75BA unit; I could never have afforded something like this in Belltown.
Noise issues- I live on the Occidental side, which is much quieter than the 1st Ave side. However, even the 1st side isn’t that bad for noise; the bedrooms are in the interior and there aren’t a lot of windows in the units (which is also a downside) so the post-1am bar noise isn’t too bad.
Starbucks is building a BIG building across the street for 1500-2000 workers, bound to drive up prices, as is the finally-moving development of the north parking lot of Qwest Field.
Transportation links are about to improve a lot; the bus tunnel reopens in a month or two, and light rail all the way to the airport within another couple of years. Of course, we’re at the foot of I-90 and I-5 as well.
All in all? Well, I bought here, so I’m not objective- but I think that buildings like the Nord, or here in the Florentine, are great deals that will ride out the present flat market in appreciation.
The Vision46 stuff isn’t going to happen anytime soon, unfortunately, but sooner or later this area will come up a lot.
Then again- my personal belief is that you buy a home/condo for your LIVING SPACE first, and hope for appreciation second.
Don’t invest in Pioneer Properties – you’ll
never get your money back.
They are sheisters