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July 2018

Responding to Seattle's "market pivot," developer will build condo tower instead of apartments

Dean JonesWhat was initially planned as downtown Seattle condominiums, and then reconceived as luxury apartments, will, in fact, be condos. Developers announced the switch in mid-June, shortly before breaking ground.

Named SPIRE, the slender 41-story tower on a triangular shaped site near the Seattle Center, will encompass 352 residences with prices starting from below $450,000, according to Laconia Development.

"We are clearly experiencing a pivot in the development cycle," explained Dean Jones, president and CEO of Realogics Sotheby's International Realty, which will market the condos. Citing research by O'Connor Consulting Group, Jones said there is a paradigm shift with consumer preferences trending from renting to buying.

Spire TowersJones, a former developer who grew up in a family real estate business, believes new condominiums "are an important contributor to attainable homeownership options." He thinks renters are increasingly positioning themselves for capital appreciation, mortgage interest deductions and attainable home ownership options before being priced out. "Many prospective buyers are citing fears about rising home prices and ongoing interest rate hikes," he added.

Homes at SPIRE will fall into three classifications: "city suites" on levels 4-23; "tower residences" on levels 24-37; and penthouses on levels 40-41, where prices will top out at more than $5 million.

Amenities will include a concierge and three auto courts with the city's first automated valet system, a third-floor co-working lounge, conference room, theater, and wellness center, two high-level floors with an exhibition kitchen and private dining room, billiards room, bar, art gallery, plus a rooftop terrace with barbecues and fire pits.

"It's quintessentially Seattle," said Jones, who has been the marketing strategist behind many of the region's most respected real estate projects over the past 20 years. "SPIRE is on point and will meet with eager homebuyers awaiting the next evolution in urban design. Laconia will deliver much needed inventory for individual purchase," he stated in a news release about the project.

In a 2017 interview with Livabl.com, part of the BuzzBuzzHome network for homebuyers, owners and renters, Jones stated, "There's no doubt that we are on an impressive trajectory for additional growth, so I hope we can maintain our competitive edge in attracting more economic prosperity to the city and build enough housing for the demand while preserving the open spaces and inclusivity.

Jones also called on elected officials and planners to re-evaluate the Washington State Condominium act, which he suggests "has effectively scared off developers willing to build for-sale housing in sufficient volumes."

Occupancy at SPIRE is anticipated for fall 2020. A 28-month construction timeline is planned due to the size and configuration of the site. He expects many purchasers will be downsizing empty-nesters and move-up buyers from older buildings.

The public sales debut is scheduled for fall 2018 with registrations for priority presales now being accepted.