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March 2015

Downtown Seattle Construction Boom

Thousands of Housing Units Planned

By NWREporter

March 2015

In case the cranes were not convincing enough, the Downtown Seattle Association just published a report that underscores Seattle's growth spurt.

Downtown is adding approximately 25 new jobs each day and netting 24 new residents every week according Jon Scholes, DSA president and CEO. To accommodate that growth, 15 million square feet of office space is under development.

Developers are also building around 3,000 housing units at 56 residential buildings. In all, data generated by the Metropolitan Improvement District's Business Development & Market Research team for DSA shows more than 13,600 units are in some phase of the planning process. That total does not include an undetermined number of units in the Yesler-Terrace projects beyond the initial phases of that development; some officials expect the overall project may ultimately add as many as 5,000 units.

In the State of Downtown Seattle report issued in February, DSA officials said Downtown's permanent population has increased 8 percent since 2010 to 65,000 people. That number is expected to increase 10 percent within five years. About 2,700 residents are children.

Measured by households, the Downtown area of Seattle has increased 9 percent since 2010. It is expected to increase another 10 percent over the next five years.

Including vacant units, and those recently completed or undergoing renovations, Downtown Seattle now has a total inventory of nearly 12,000 condominium units and 33,000 apartment units,

Other numbers the DSA highlighted to depict Downtown dwellers:

  • Families currently comprise about 17 percent of Downtown households.
  • About 4 percent of the Downtown households have children.
  • The population of children under age 18 living Downtown jumped 17 percent since 2010.
  •  Fifty-six percent of residents are male; elsewhere in the region, 50 percent of residents are male.
  • Nearly two-thirds of residents are between ages 18 and 54.
  • Sixty-eight percent of residents are in single-person households.
  • Most households (80 percent) are renter occupied; elsewhere in the city, the figure is 41 percent.

If one word describes the housing unit of the Downtown resident, it might be "compact."  

The average size of a Downtown apartment is 638 square feet. An average Downtown condo is 913 square feet. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the Downtown housing inventory is either a studio or one-bedroom apartment. DSA suggested an influx of families could skew that toward larger floor plans. As an example, at Bosa Development's Insignia towers at 6th & Bell (the largest residential project under construction) 71 percent of the units are two bedrooms or larger.  

By far, the majority of occupied housing units are rentals. Downtown comprises 42,514 occupied housing units, which is about 14 percent of the city's total number all occupied housing units. Only 18 percent of the Downtown units are owner occupied, which compares to 46 percent citywide and 54 percent in the region. (Approximately one-third of condo units are renter occupied.)

Figures in the DSA report indicate a median purchase price of $409,500 for condos Downtown. That's about 40 percent higher than the citywide median of $292,500 and about 55 percent more than the countywide median of $262,900.

Between 2015 and 2017, more than 6,600 residences will be in some phase of construction, with more than 3,000 currently being built. Only two condo projects are in the mix, but more are anticipated, including vacant units, and those recently completed or undergoing renovations.

The DSA considers "Downtown" to be all neighborhoods from the waterfront to Capitol Hill and from Sodo to lower Queen Anne. Its 28-page State of Downtown report may be downloaded for free; the print version costs $35.