Trace informational: I’m sold

Wow, I just got back from the Trace informational session, and I am excited!

First a photo from Todd Bates (via Vlad):

tracebum Trace informational: Im sold

What happened was they had the following people speak for 5-10 minutes followed by a long Q&A followed by 1:1 time:

  • Ted Schroth the developer
  • Jim Goldberg the sales manager
  • Jeff Oaklief the architect
  • Robin Freeman the interior designer
  • Michael Klebeck the lounge owner

And I can’t say how refreshing it was to be able to hear directly from the people involved in the project. Every project should have a round table with the team. It is one thing to get second hand impressions from the onsite agent and third hand impressions from your own agent but quite another to ask questions of the decision makers and visionaries.

Who spoke about what

Ted spoke about how he got his start with re-habing homes on Queen Anne and Capitol Hill and then acquiring this 90 year old Chicago style building which he has spent the last three years working on (he did a few other projects in between). He then talked about their desire to ‘not waste’, to have ‘retail drive the project’ and have it ‘designed around the street.’ While it was interesting to hear Ted speak what was really engaging was to talk to him one on one about the project. Turns out he is a fellow Winnipeger(!) and really believes in this project. You can tell he is pouring his heart and soul into it. As a result his enthusiasm and excitement is infectious. I hear he has a reservation down for the coolest unit, #501, the south-west penthouse, even though he wouldn’t be able to move in for another 15 years (has to wait for the kids to grow up and move out.) I was skeptical about the gym idea but I’m coming around to it after hearing him pitch it. I also get the feeling that Ted worries about every detail. Apparently he is driving RAFN crazy with design change requests and upgrades. He said him and his team spent an hour in my unit yesterday worrying about how to best route some of the duct work. (I have a hard time believing my Meritage developer ever stressed about my unit.) I also asked why they didn’t take reservations and go to purchase earlier and he said he argued with his bank about it but that he wanted people to be able to walk through their units at Trace Lofts before committing. We also discussed unit customization and upgrades and apparently RAFN refuses to do it.

Jeff spoke about the work done to the exterior to restore the brick; both the buffing and replacement of hundreds of bricks. He talked about their vision behind adding to the building with the penthouse floors and how the new integrates with the old by ‘letting the building show itself off’ and how they are incorporating new elements in Trace Lofts and recovered artifacts and materials in Trace North. He also showed us a picture of the sound lab they built in the building to test the insulation techniques. The diagrams he showed of the wall and ceiling constructions were impressive.

Jim talked about the hard hat tours beginning April 18th with purchase and sale beginning on April 21st. Sounds like reservations are also going well with 2/3rds reserved.

Robin talked about how the project was to be ‘as green as possible’ with recycled and renewed materials. The floor is recycled reclaimed solid fir flooring. No floating floors here! On the green topic, I later spoke with Ted about why they didn’t pursue LEED certification. Ted says that when he started work on the project no one was talking about LEED for residential, it was mainly a commercial initiative. Regardless it sounds like the team has gone to great lengths to be very green in their selection of materials. Ted even mentioned minimizing ordering materials which had to be delivered from the east coast. I was worried about the (recycled) vinyl flooring in the bathroom but sounds like they went this route so if people wanted they wouldn’t feel bad ripping it out later and replacing it with the tile they wanted. Robin will also be purchasing a unit at the building.

Michael talked about the lounge; the vault door, the speak easy entrance, the vintage roulette table. I didn’t realize just how many projects he’s done around Seattle. Sounds like the Gunclub is going to be quite the cool place (apparently his mother does not like the name). Michael also sounds a little eccentric :).

Here are some random facts:

  • HOA’s for Trace Lofts are a flat $298. Innovative idea.
  • Heat is electric forced air
  • Water heaters in every unit
  • Trace Lofts and Trace North will have separate HOAs and won’t share common amenities like roof top decks
  • Madrona Real Estate Services is the property management company
  • One of the RAFN construction folks bought a unit
  • Parking: 189 stalls. 99 for Trace North, 47 for Trace Lofts, rest for retail plus one motorcycle spot. No guest parking.
  • Trace Lofts will come late summer. Sounds like September.
  • Trace North will come Spring 2008
  • Pets do not have a weight limit.

Having just signed a reservation commitment for Rollin Street in the morning it is clear I’m on the fence but spending time talking to Ted I am very excited about Trace. This guy is dedicated to his project (he is in apparently no rush to move on to the next project like so many developers are) and sounds like he may even surprise us on price (he did on HOA’s!).

I’m sure I left out a lot of details so if you attended I’d love to hear what information you gathered as well as your impressions.

About Matt

Matt , Urbnlivn's publisher, has a love for lofts with industrial features and new construction condos that is only eclipsed by his passion for outdoor sports and urban living. Phrases such as “polished concrete” and “exposed brick” are music to his ears. You can also find Matt on Twitter or skiing.

  • http://twitter.com/mattgoyer mattgoyer

    I have Marmoleum in my Meritage bathroom. The developer likes it because it’s cheaper than tile and green. I don’t like it because it’s not tile and looks like vinyl flooring.

  • http://blog.mattgoyer.com Matt

    I have Marmoleum in my Meritage bathroom. The developer likes it because it’s cheaper than tile and green. I don’t like it because it’s not tile and looks like vinyl flooring.

  • Foster

    Matt doesn’t like it because its not high-falootin, nor is it considered “fancypants”.

  • Foster

    Matt doesn’t like it because its not high-falootin, nor is it considered “fancypants”.

  • jo

    Our Meritage bathroom floors blow. I can’t wait to rip mine up.

  • jo

    Our Meritage bathroom floors blow. I can’t wait to rip mine up.

  • EconE

    I’ve laughed at the $300 jeans phenomenon for some time now.

    Denim Bubble?

  • EconE

    I’ve laughed at the $300 jeans phenomenon for some time now.

    Denim Bubble?

  • Foster

    jo, what about the floors bothers you? Are they low quality? Do they not hold up well? Or is it just that you want tile?

  • Foster

    jo, what about the floors bothers you? Are they low quality? Do they not hold up well? Or is it just that you want tile?

  • http://designlines.wordpress.com/ kh

    marmoleum still looks like sheet vinyl… even if it is a little better for the environmnent.

    http://www.themarmoleumstore.com

  • http://designlines.wordpress.com/ kh

    marmoleum still looks like sheet vinyl… even if it is a little better for the environmnent.

    http://www.themarmoleumstore.com

  • http://twitter.com/mattgoyer mattgoyer

    Sadly, my reserved unit, #408, will not be getting a quilted elevator door. Since the bedroom doesn’t have doors on it I would love to find something similar to act as door/divider. Any suggestions?

    Jim did say that 406, 506, 212 and 312 will be getting doors.

  • http://blog.mattgoyer.com Matt

    Sadly, my reserved unit, #408, will not be getting a quilted elevator door. Since the bedroom doesn’t have doors on it I would love to find something similar to act as door/divider. Any suggestions?

    Jim did say that 406, 506, 212 and 312 will be getting doors.

  • EconE

    Here’s a door company that might interest you.

    http://www.neoporte.com/

  • EconE

    Here’s a door company that might interest you.

    http://www.neoporte.com/

  • Jared

    The Q&A completely got me psyched too! I think the building is going to be great, and I drove by the outside today the care and restoration put into it really shows. I’m still a juat a wee bit skeptical about how cool the bathrooms/kitchens will be (that basin sink is the standard-issue sink in every Vancouver highrise built in 2005/06 it seems) but when it comes down to it most of that can be tweaked with later anyway. I’m officially excited.

  • Jared

    The Q&A completely got me psyched too! I think the building is going to be great, and I drove by the outside today the care and restoration put into it really shows. I’m still a juat a wee bit skeptical about how cool the bathrooms/kitchens will be (that basin sink is the standard-issue sink in every Vancouver highrise built in 2005/06 it seems) but when it comes down to it most of that can be tweaked with later anyway. I’m officially excited.

  • http://twitter.com/mattgoyer mattgoyer

    Jared, I agree about the kitchen and bathrooms. Seems like they are putting a lot of effort everywhere else though. I’m sure once I’ve lived there a bit I’ll renovate those two areas.

    BTW, which unit did you reserve?

  • http://urbnlivn.com Matt Goyer

    Jared, I agree about the kitchen and bathrooms. Seems like they are putting a lot of effort everywhere else though. I’m sure once I’ve lived there a bit I’ll renovate those two areas.

    BTW, which unit did you reserve?

  • Kristina

    I love the marketing! I am curious about the following:

    Why would they not aim to obtain LEED Certified? Its not just a commercial initiative, its a national initiative that we should strive to live in better environments. They could still try to obtain the LEED certification and you can find more about this at http://www.usgbc.org/LEED

    In the end, this is a WOOD FRAMED BUILDING. No matter what they do for sound insulation between floors and units, the fact remains that wood framed buildings dont hold up over time. They warp, they change shape and they transmit noise. Want an example or two: How about Belltown Court? I lived there fora couple years and it was the worst experience in my life. Not great buildings 10 years later.

    I would be curious about the non-floating floors. Reclaimed Fir wood is beautiful, but it doesnt stand the test of time. How many times can you refinish it? Fir is a soft wood, so it will scuff up much quicker. Further, I can’t wear my heels or have people come over in their heels unless you want to have the Swiss cheese look.

    Why rip out vinyl and replace it with tile? That doesnt sound very Green to me. It sounds like they are doing the best job they can of selling an inferior product.

    I love the $298 dollars no matter what unit you are in. That means you can purchase the most expensive unit (read: Developer buying penthouse) in the building and have the least expensive unit pay more of my costs. Great, innovative, steal from the poor and pay the rich idea. This will really come in handy when a special assessment is assessed on every unit because the largest unit in the building has water intrusion problems. Do you realize that most of your homeowner fees are associated with the insurance on the building? Does it even have earthquake insurance?

    Electric Forced Air? I understand not wanting to sell the washer/dryer in the unit (added costs that arent mitigated, and thus becoming a profit center when you upgrade to them) but electric forced air? Why not just put Cadet heaters in every room with one thermostat.

    Water Heaters in every unit: Great! No gas, no problem. The most expensive cost in your electricity bill is heating the hot water. Enjoy the bills!

    Ducts in your unit? Where are those ducts going? What are they venting?

    Why wait until you can show off part of the building? Some ideas:
    a. It costs money to build a nice presentation center
    b. Bank on the appreciation of the neighborhood to help garner more $$ in the selling of the units
    c. Set the prices more based on interest than actual costs.

    10. How respected is the property management company? I havent ever heard of them and they are the ones running the books on the association? Anyone hear of them or see what they have done in action? Do they have any other properties of this proportion?

  • Kristina

    I love the marketing! I am curious about the following:

    Why would they not aim to obtain LEED Certified? It’s not just a commercial initiative, it’s a national initiative that we should strive to live in better environments. They could still try to obtain the LEED certification and you can find more about this at http://www.usgbc.org/LEED

    In the end, this is a WOOD FRAMED BUILDING. No matter what they do for sound insulation between floors and units, the fact remains that wood framed buildings don’t hold up over time. They warp, they change shape and they transmit noise. Want an example or two: How about Belltown Court? I lived there fora couple years and it was the worst experience in my life. Not great buildings 10 years later.

    I would be curious about the non-floating floors. Reclaimed Fir wood is beautiful, but it doesn’t stand the test of time. How many times can you refinish it? Fir is a soft wood, so it will scuff up much quicker. Further, I can’t wear my heels or have people come over in their heels… unless you want to have the Swiss cheese look.

    Why rip out vinyl and replace it with tile? That doesn’t sound very Green to me. It sounds like they are doing the best job they can of selling an inferior product.

    I love the $298 dollars no matter what unit you are in. That means you can purchase the most expensive unit (read: Developer buying penthouse) in the building and have the least expensive unit pay more of my costs. Great, innovative, steal from the poor and pay the rich idea. This will really come in handy when a special assessment is assessed on every unit because the largest unit in the building has water intrusion problems. Do you realize that most of your homeowner fees are associated with the insurance on the building? Does it even have earthquake insurance?

    Electric Forced Air? I understand not wanting to sell the washer/dryer in the unit (added costs that aren’t mitigated, and thus becoming a profit center when you upgrade to them) but electric forced air? Why not just put Cadet heaters in every room with one thermostat.

    Water Heaters in every unit: Great! No gas, no problem. The most expensive cost in your electricity bill is heating the hot water. Enjoy the bills!

    Ducts in your unit? Where are those ducts going? What are they venting?

    Why wait until you can show off part of the building? Some ideas:
    a. It costs money to build a nice presentation center
    b. Bank on the appreciation of the neighborhood to help garner more $$ in the selling of the units
    c. Set the prices more based on interest than actual costs.

    10. How respected is the property management company? I haven’t ever heard of them and they are the ones running the books on the association? Anyone hear of them or see what they have done in action? Do they have any other properties of this proportion?

  • http://twitter.com/mattgoyer mattgoyer

    These erosion sinks would look nice at Trace: http://goredesignco.com/

  • http://blog.mattgoyer.com Matt

    These erosion sinks would look nice at Trace: http://goredesignco.com/

  • EconE

    Thanks for the link Matt…that sink is “bad ass”! I also like the clean lines of the Laguna Ramp sink.

  • EconE

    Thanks for the link Matt…that sink is “bad ass”! I also like the clean lines of the Laguna Ramp sink.

  • Aly

    “On the green topic, I later spoke with Ted about why they didnt pursue LEED certification. Ted says that when he started work on the project no one was talking about LEED for residential, it was mainly a commercial initiative”

    I’m a leed certified architect. It is true that leed is not geared so much for ‘single family’ residential. but Trace is a mixed use multifamily building. And we have examples of leed certified multifamily projects in seattle that were done quite some time ago. it’s sad that developers will smile at you while they’re lying. I just feel like they’ll do anything just to sell their projects. Some developers put some green make-up to market their properties. if you’re really serious about green, prove it to me by getting at least a leed certification. It’s great you have this blog. this way we can all join forces and try to make sense of this extremely aggressive market…

  • Aly

    “On the green topic, I later spoke with Ted about why they didn’t pursue LEED certification. Ted says that when he started work on the project no one was talking about LEED for residential, it was mainly a commercial initiative”

    I’m a leed certified architect. It is true that leed is not geared so much for ‘single family’ residential. but Trace is a mixed use multifamily building. And we have examples of leed certified multifamily projects in seattle that were done quite some time ago. it’s sad that developers will smile at you while they’re lying. I just feel like they’ll do anything just to sell their projects. Some developers put some green make-up to market their properties. if you’re really serious about green, prove it to me by getting at least a leed certification. It’s great you have this blog. this way we can all join forces and try to make sense of this extremely aggressive market…

  • Aly

    sorry, i think all my comments on your blogs so far have been pesimistic… What the hell! I should relax I little :) I think I’m just bitter that I don’t have money to develop a project myself :) But.. maybe some day..

  • Aly

    sorry, i think all my comments on your blogs so far have been pesimistic… What the hell! I should relax I little :) I think I’m just bitter that I don’t have money to develop a project myself :) But.. maybe some day..

  • http://twitter.com/mattgoyer mattgoyer

    Hi Aly, thanks for the comments. I’m bitter too that I can’t do my own projects. We should team up some day. Maybe we could find buyers before we start, raise money from them and build the project we all want.

  • http://blog.mattgoyer.com Matt

    Hi Aly, thanks for the comments. I’m bitter too that I can’t do my own projects. We should team up some day. Maybe we could find buyers before we start, raise money from them and build the project we all want.