A lot has been discussed regarding the unpleasant tower spacing between Cosmopolitan and 1918 8th Ave. Kiro 7 News will be featuring an investigative report about problems with Seattle’s urban density. This program may enlighten those who are thinking abour purchasing a highrise condo in the dense downtown area. The program is scheduled to air on Monday, March 3, at 6.00pm.
Read more on Cosmo Seattle and Seattle PI.
Hopefully the report will provide more info about the Cosmo situation at the time of the pre-sale, since so much of the focus has been on the change in the building height 18-feet across the alley after the Cosmo pre-sale.
At the time of the Cosmo pre-sale, signage posted on the property across the alley indicated plans for a 12-14 story office building, and in fact they had settled on 13 stories. This building was to be directly across the alley from Cosmo. Cosmo residences started on the 10th floor, above several parking levels. The Seattle PI article quoted one buyer on the 21st floor who verified the 13-story plans.
What that buyer and other Cosmo pre-sale buyers either did not consider or decided to ignore is that fact that the space between floors in most modern office construction tends to be much greater than that between residential and parking garage floors. Visible ceilings in offices tend to be higher, and the space typically accommodates drop ceilings that hide building systems. They sometimes also provide for raised floors for data centers. Compare for example the 20-story federal court house to 32-story Metropolitan Tower Apartments across the street. The court house is taller. In fact a check of nearby new office buildings shows that the distance between office floors is approx. 1.6 – 1.8 times that of residents. Throw in blocked-off roof-top systems, and office building ratios can go even higher than that.
And that means a 13-story office building could very easily reach the 24th floor of a garage and residence tower like Cosmo. Which would have been an unpleasant surprise for the guy in the PI story who bought on the 21st.
You can get a sense of this by checking out the height of the new office building at 818 Stewart, which sits to the south of Cosmo on the same block. They just capped of the 7th floor of the new construction – that floor is up to approx. floor 13-14 of the Cosmo, and it’s just passing the halfway point. (818 is slightly uphill from Cosmo)
The picture in Wendy’s post provides another perspective. After all, the new tower across the alley in the picture now overwhelms the Cosmo, and yet it is only one floor taller than Cosmo, according to the PI.
So what this means is that even at the time of the pre-sale, there was already an office tower in the works immediately across the alley that would block the views of the majority of Cosmo’s alley-facing units. The buyers weren’t complaining about tower spacing then. They were reserving their units. The change across the alley was certainly unfortunate for those above the 24th floor, but they took that risk when they chose to buy that early.
One lesson to learn here – compare building heights by feet, not floors.
Great comment Mark. My realtor warned me about some of these issues when they were pre-selling so luckily I was not affected but I can imagine how the hustle and bustle of the sales center might have led people to jump in without doing their homework.
Hopefully, all of the condo owners on that side of the cosmo will apply to the county for reappraisals since their resale values have just dropped HUGE. Maybe the city will rethink its approval processes when it realizes hurting unit values can actually decrease tax revenues. (compared to before the new, view-blocking, tower.
Mark might be correct, technically, but I feel very sorry for those who have bought condos that are now going to be staring into an office building (or wall) and who will not be able to sell them for purchase price. That is tragic.
I certainly agree that if reappraisals are in order, they should be done.
But it’s not *all* of the alley-facing condo owners. After all, at the time of the pre-sale the 13-story office building was already in the works. For those folks on the lower floors, the change in height didn’t change their views. They agreed to buy those units at the prices they did in spite of the fact that they would have views 18-feet across an alley of a 13-story office building. Since their views didn’t change with the height change, I wouldn’t know why their value would.
For those on the upper floors, however, the plan changes across the alley did indeed destroy their views, and I certainly would agree that the value of those units dropped.
The interesting question here is How much? After all, the views were lost after pre-sale but before closing. Pre-sale buyers were confronted with the choice of giving up their 5% or going through with the sale. Not a great pair of options, to be sure. But if they thought that losing the views would have cost them more than 5% of their home’s value, then the obvious choice would have been to give up the 5% rather than complete the sale.
I have no background as an appraiser – and would certainly like to see an appraiser weigh in on this topic – but I wonder if by most folks going through with the sales they did, if they created a whole lot of comparables in the building for establishing what people are willing to pay for units in the Cosmo with such views.
After all, if I was just willing to pay, say, $400K for a unit for which it was established that it would stare across an alley at an office building, how would I make the argument to the appraiser that it’s not worth $400K because it stares across an alley at an office building?
When I bought the presale unit at Cosmo, we were told that the views to the West were not quaranteed and that potentially there will be twenty-something office to the West. Hence, I thought the presale price actually reflected that, it was at the time much cheaper in comparison to other new constructions.
After the presale, my agent and I monitor the site frequently and found that there will be a 34 stories planned for the west parking lot. Doing a search online and you can find the plans for the building in the king county website.
So after closing, I put the unit up for sale. The unit would have fetch 25k more if the view was protected. But even with that, people who bought units at Cosmo (08 floorplan) still made a good profit if they had sold. Now not everyone would made money because it depends on the floorplan that you got. Some floorplan looked good on paper but not in reality. Others like the 05/06 floorplans, there were 2/floor, so there were more inventory. The studio were 423sf with no parking, that’s just very difficult for resale.
All in all, real estate is big investment and you should do due diligent and homework when you buy.
Seattle Condos are on the rise with new development condos coming up every now and then in the region. It is one of the largest coastal cities in with a large community of settlers living here. Seattle is primarily a financial district with a large number of residential areas and an extraordinary waterfront. Looking for effective and sophisticated apartment condos is usually not difficult here, since the city has witnessed a number of projects that are coming up.