Since every condo project has its own personality and positioning in the market. I thought it would be fun to describe buying a condo like buying a car. Both are big purchases and can be highly emotional. Price, reliability, interior comfort and brand (image) are just some of the things that most people will look at before making their final purchase. If you are in the middle of a condo search, here is a list of cars that can be described as close to the condos in Belltown/ downtown/ Queen Anne in Seattle. Keep in mind this is largely subjective and nothing beats seeing the condos yourself or having a good dialogue with a realtor who knows the area (hint, hint) but this should get you started.
Bentley-ultra high end
Mercedes S Class– Luxury condo with Hotel amenities
Mercedes E Class
BMW 3-Sporty and small
BMW 5-Bigger, not sporty but more upscale
5th and Madison
Mercedes M Class-Good, solid all around and high end
One Pacific Tower
2006 A4– Entry level luxury
2004 Model Audi A4
Land Rover– Niche audience with very strong advocates but often overlooked in favor of mainstream choices
2000 Saab– Not on top of people’s list but still have a lot to offer for the price
2006 Honda Accord
2001 Honda Accord (getting new paint job)
Volkwagen Jetta – fun, entry level Belltown condos
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Loved the comparisons of the condos to car. It really puts things in perspective. Has any of your thoughts on these “cars” changed since you wrote this?
Yes, only one or two of them but for the most part, it is still the same. I’ve added more condos since I first wrote them. By the way, check out my map if you like my cars and condos comparison.
Stunning design inside and out – close to great upscale dining, nightlife and shopping, the sporting venues and theatres yet not within earshot of the all night party. Walk across 5th Ave. to the Public Market or over to Pacific Place and window shop all along the way. A truly unbeatable in-city sanctuary. The 02/03 floorplans boast 5 piece master baths and seperate powder rooms with floor to ceiling city and library views – this is city living at it’s finest yet very private. Location, location, location!!! Walk to work or jump on the freeway against traffic.
I am not sure I would agree with your assessment. I have been shopping condos and 2200 westlake is NOT comparable to an S-class. Although much seems to have been promised by the builders, I am not sure it lives up to the hype. It will be interesting to see how the Denny triangle develops but it is NOT in a prime location. The views are not good. Even the amenities are not impressive.
Hotel 1000/Madison Tower is better but still the location is too south. It will be interesting to see how Olive 8 develops but the views will be a limiting factor as it is too east. There seems to be a lull with 2nd and Pine. Looks interesting but prices are sky high.
Escala was not one of the top condos on the list. However, I would be very careful of that as well. Due to the long list of amenities the homeowners dues are steep and you are required to spend more money on top of that every month at their “club.”
People seem to feel that being in a condo which is part of a hotel somehow makes it very upscale and desirable. As a person who used to live in NYC in the upper east side, I can tell you that the OPPOSITE is usually true. A condo that is part of a hotel gets run down much faster as more people go through it. Just go to a hotel that is 15 years old. You get less privacy as well. As for amenities, I would argue that you could just hire a maid service for what they charge and most resturants will deliver. Do you really want to go to the same restaurant over and over? I feel that Seattle people automatically assume that a condo that has a hotel is upscale since those are new here. Those that argue for it as a second home, I say; would you really buy a condo at 2200 as a second, city home considering the above? My advice, beware!
You have a good point. I’ve downgraded 2200 Westlake to a E-Class.
I think you did a pretty good job on the comparisons, by and large I agree, here are the things I would change:
1521- If a condo starts at $1M and given the size of their units and levels of finish and location, this should definitely be second only to the 4 seasons.
Trio- This should not be anywhere near the Vine, given the location, construction, levels of finish and even pricing. Only a small percentage of the units have views, and they seem to push the 506 sq foot alcove which is a huge percentage of the units in the building. They don’t have a concierge either.
One Pacific Tower- Has some of the highest end, best views, and most expensive units in Seattle, shouldnt this be moved up?
2200 WestLake- Given the location, lack of success in selling, and horrible stories of amenities, concierge service etc.. I would definetely put this two notches down.
Lumen should be in the same category as the Parc, or maybe even down anotch to the Trio.
Gallery- I would add this condo, and put it somewhere near the Parc, or Mosler.
Other than that I think you’re right on.
re: Varun, 2200; lack of success in selling? It sold out. There are 30 resales(36 resales have already sold) – of 261 units. I would say that it has more to do with perceptions of market conditions rather than the units themselves.
Horrible stories are hardly the same as horrible amenities, concierge service, etc.
E-class sounds just about right.
Re: Pacific tower, I agree. It’s a fantastic building.
By horror stories I refer to the pan handling that continues to go through the area, concierge that is not 24 hours especially given the high HOA dues, and the restaurant
that still does not offer a full food service. Basically all the things that you expect from a Hotel/Condominium that they are not delivering on.
Not to mention the nightmarish traffic that is Denny pretty much all day long.
Varun, some of your observations seem to be in the periphery as opposed to the building itself, but regardless:
1) re: panhandling – IMO, not any worse (if better) than in Belltown
2) HOA @ 55 cents per isn’t terribly high, though it’s not quite the bargain the Cosmopolitan is
3) there are other ways to get in and around the 2200 besides Denny way; can’t see it as any worse than Broad/any street in Belltown/any street near Pike-Pine
4) Pan Pacific does have a range of services available now, in-room dining included; services were slow to be offered, and while not particularly cheap – they’re available.
I have to agree with Varun. I’m not sure if Varun works in real estate but his judgement is right on about the different condos I have seen. Although 2200 is a nice condo, that’s all it is. It is not an E-class. Dan, do you work for 2200 or live there?
On a different note, what is the difference between an E-class and a 5 series? Or for that matter between an A4 and a 3 series? I don’t think there is enough of a difference to matter. I also don’t think an M class is a good, solid, high end car but that’s another topic. Just a suggestion Wendy!
This is the list as I would fill it:
Bentley-ultra high end
Mercedes S Class- Luxury condo
1 hotel and condo
Mercedes E Class- Mid luxury condo
One pacific tower
Mercedes C Class- Entry level luxury condo
5th and madison
Toyota Avalon- upscale commuter
Toyota Camry- You can pimp it but it’s still a Camry
Thanks Dunno. It’s been a while since I originally posted this. I’ll do an updated version in the near future.
1521 definitely has a nice design, great views and location but it is still a traditional condo and lacks the hotel portion amenities which doesn’t put it in the hotel/condo category.
I agree that One Pacific Tower has great views, however, Cristalla, 1521 and Escala have more interesting design, newer and more amenities.
Lumen is concrete and steel construction. The design is unique, not everyone’s cup of tea but it is right on top of QFC so it is not in the same category as the Parc and definitely a cut above Trio.
Hey Dunno, I don’t work or live at the 2200 (bought one for my mom to live in for her retirement). You’ll get no argument from me as you’re entitled to any opinions you hold – near or far. My replies were directed at the poster above who seemed to equate secondary matters/things on the periphery (HOA, location, panhandling, etc.) and using them as core criteria for the condo development.
FWIW, while develoments such as the 1521 and Hotel 1000 are almost exclusively high-end, the 2200 does have a different “class” per each of the 3 buildings… 600 sq ft studios, up to grand penthouses.
In the end, we can agree that it is a nice condo… though I’d put my vote in for the make “BMW” as opposed to a singluar model. Sports luxury. =)
Wendy, as far as I can tell this is one of your most popular features on the site. First, congrats! Secondly, may I suggest this be a running feature – perhaps every 6 months, or when lots of new condos come online?
I think it may be helpful to put in a disclaimer about the criteria you used in determining the results, in addition to maybe modifying the categories so a wider audience can understand it more clearly. Some people might be confused at the difference between a luxury-sporty car (A4), vs the sports-luxury car (335i).
Hey Wendy. I guess I would find it more helpful to get an overall assessment of a condo building and not get separate assessments for condos that have a hotel and those that don’t. Knowing if a condo has hotel amenities would be helpful but it would be great to know how the condos compare with each other in general. I would agree with one of the posts above that being part of a hotel does not always make it nicer. It’s not like people will steal TVs from the workout room because you are not part of a condo-hotel. It’s your blog so I’ll leave it up to your judgement; I always enjoy reading it! By the way, what would a sporty condo look like?
Thanks for your comments.
I understand some people may look at condos as a single category regardless of whether or not it comes with a hotel.
In reality, from my experience with clients who have purchased hotel-condo units, most people who buy hotel-condos exclusively look at hotel-condos because they are attracted to the amentiies and services that come with a hotel.