Sanctuary Tour & Photos (2012)

The Sanctuary Preview

Way back when Sanctuary was under construction the first time in 2009, Matt was lucky enough to get a tour and took lots of photos. And those photos (plus others used for marketing) are pretty much all I’ve seen of this place until today’s preview when I finally got inside. All of the units are now complete (or very nearly so), two were fully staged, and the rest were open for all to explore.

In short, I think the 12 units at the Sanctuary are amazing. Truly awesome. If you don’t take the opportunity this week or next to get in and explore each and every unique offering, you will regret it. It doesn’t matter if you are in the market or not — you need to see the inside of this place to appreciate it. In fact, on this preview weekend the place was mobbed with visitors. According to Realogics, there were about 350 registered visitors on Saturday alone and it looked to be as busy today (so busy that they are struggling to get everyone registered).

The preview hasn’t just drawn in the curious though. Many, many visitors are in attendance because they are seriously considering a purchase — in fact, when I left at 1:30PM there were eight units with reservations to purchase, and three of those had a secondary reservation in place. Curiously, at least two couples I chatted with that were looking to buy used to attend Sunday school there back when it was a church.

Realogics will begin working through the reservations next week to lock in purchases. From what I hear, some that made reservations are interested in closing immediately, others may be putting down the $5K to hold their place in line while they give it a serious few days of consideration.

One final word about visiting before I start in on what I thought: just skip your workout for the day and tour Sanctuary instead. It will take you at least an hour to visit every floor in every single one (units have as little as 3 levels and as many as 5). You will probably do at least a mile of stairs. If you are interested in buying, then carve out at least 2 hours in your schedule because it will take you at least that long to narrow your choice down to one. Besides the challenge of the stairs, you will be challenged by the fact that no unit is the same and that makes it awfully hard to choose.

Each unit has many things to love, and every unit likely has one or more quirks that you have to decide to ignore. I said they were amazing, not perfect :). One downside that you won’t have to ignore any longer is that whole “no warranty on the construction” issue — sounds like there is one in place.

Here’s what I really liked:

  • All that concrete, steel, and loft-appeal built into each one, plus the ones with exposed brick were especially pleasing to me.
  • Others might be more attracted to the layouts with kitchens placed by the outer wall to leverage the huge window to the outdoors.
  • Still others will be entranced by the outdoor decks attached to a select few (except maybe that deck with super high walls).
  • Of course, the two units with the huge stained-glass window that can be opened to normal glass are impressive (that effort is estimated to have cost $60K for the two units per unit).
  • The two condos one containing a bedroom with skylight that looks up towards the domed ceiling is pretty cool.
  • All of this seems to focus on what’s been added but props should definitely be given for the architectural features that were retained: columns, moldings, doors…

The home that I preferred of the 12 surprised me. It was #9 (1859 16th Ave) and is one of the smaller units at 2,553 square feet. With a price of $729K, there was only one other unit with a smaller price tag. But #9 had all the concrete, steel, and exposed brick I could ask for and with its super tall, narrow window it felt more like a loft in Manhattan. Yes, there are larger, more functional layouts of the bunch — any of which I can see the beauty of — but the aesthetic of #9 was what drew me.

Then again, if I had spent more time in #9, I might have found the not-so-perfect that I occasionally came across in other units including:

  • The choice of lighting fixtures wasn’t all that. One of my friends explained that the disks with exposed & tinted bulbs are all the rage, but I wasn’t in love with them. Easy to replace though right?
  • Stupid things like exposed plumbing on the visible side of the toilets.
  • The random, shallow built-in cabinet you might come across.
  • Bedrooms with no windows in the lower floors.
  • And then, there are the units that didn’t quite have enough space to entertain or the kitchens felt dinky or that room/corner/cornice/layout just seems slightly awkward.

Quirks, you either accept ’em or you don’t. Bottom line is that you are more likely to be impressed than not with every stair you climb at the Sanctuary.

Here are a few of the many photos I took:

Sanctuary Take 2

Sanctuary Take 2

Sanctuary Take 2

Sanctuary Take 2

There are more numbers to talk about (HOA dues, partial 10-year tax abatement, price per square foot, parking spaces) but that will have to come later. Right now I just want to hear from others that visited. What did you think? And which was your favorite?

And for those that didn’t make it in this weekend for the preview, I hear there is a VIP event Wednesday night and the sales office opens January 28.

Disclaimer: Realogics and Sanctuary are Urbnlivn advertisers.

Update 1/23/12: Corrected a couple of my statements (thanks readers & Realogics for keeping me honest!). Plus, Dean at Realogics added that by the end of Sunday, they had 450 registered visitors for the weekend but many came in groups so were not registered. Also, 9 of the 12 units ended up with reservations, some with multiple reservations. Realogics will begin closing sales after Sanctuary gets its TCO (certificate of occupancy) and they expect that to happen this week.

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  • Salamander

    I was there today as well (Sunday), and your assessment of the experience is spot-on.  My companions and I were less than impressed with many of the design choices (lavender walls, yellow atrium, poorly executed fluorescent lighting, and so on- all changeable)… but overall it was an Experience to say the least!  I particularly liked the 4 or 5 West-facing units with city/sound/mountain views.

  • TSCS206

    We spent two hours there on Saturday, and today I can barely walk. We didn’t even see every unit. Realistically, we could only afford Unit #8, but we were pretty in love with it all the same. #9 was actually my husband’s favorite though way out of our price range. I LOVE the whole project, but here are the things that’s stopping us from moving forward, from major to minor: the position next to the public park, having Urgent Care on the other side, the single parking space and hard-to-navigate parking entrance, the overall layout (too many stairs, poorly positioned appliances, shoddy cabinetry), and lack of natural light. 

    Believe me, we were completely enchanted but once we put our rational heads on, there was a lot to dissuade us. In #8 specifically, there were two natural light windows – one already frosted so that you’re not looking into your neighbor’s patio (but you still are), and the one that looks out to the public pea patch and park. So realistically you’d have to put shades on both (though you could frost downstairs) and that leaves you one clerestory window of natural light. That seems insane. We just felt, once the novelty wore off, we’d be left wanting for more space, light, and privacy.

    I’ve lived in places that draw a lot of passers-by, and it grows old fast. It’ll be interesting to drive by this summer to see how busy the park gets. Maybe I’m a big snob, but if I’ve spent half a million dollars I don’t want strangers barbecuing outside my back door. 

    All in all though, it’s a wonderful project and the perfect homes for lots of folks (as seen by their successful reservation rate).

    PS. I think there are two units that have bedroom views of the big skylight, but maybe I walked through the same unit twice. :)

  • Diane

    thanks for the great write-up Katrina


    yes, I was there today, 3:30 –
    close at 6; amazing to see what they’ve done since I first toured a few years
    ago when it was all a mess of construction and only 1 staged model; it is so
    unique, mix of modern with historic


    I was surprised by all the stairs;
    for sure got a lot of exercise; I went through every unit once, and about half
    a second time
    my favorite for myself as potential place to live was
    #8, but huge issue is no windows to see out; the living area has 1 stained
    glass, and 1 large frosted glass


    there are 2 units (#5 & #6)
    with skylight in bedroom that looks up towards the domed ceiling; those
    skylights are at center of lobby area, surrounded by a fancy fence for privacy;
    and the skylights are mirrored on lobby side, again, for privacy; from the units
    with balconies over the lobby, you can see down inside the fenced area and view
    the mirrored skylights


    most of the comments I heard from
    others touring, where are the closets?


    and I’m a bit confused about the
    window thing; the DJC story said the new windows were operable to open for
    fresh air, but I couldn’t see any way they could be opened; and I heard others
    saying they didn’t like that the windows don’t open for fresh air


    it was a absolute thrill to see
    all the units today; I tried to take in as much as possible, and absorb it all,
    so I can just have fun networking at the event Wednesday night


    I didn’t take any photos, but many
    there did, so I hope some may share with us

  • Eric

    I see the draw and excitement of the old church charm, having the big moldings, columns, stain glass and church doors in the units is really cool.  Beyond that I can’t understand how anyone could ever envision living in one of these units.  The floor plans create no flow, each floor is oddly laid out.  There are oddities of design decisions at every turn.  Undersized showers, closets with pillars running through the middle, decks that look into other units, gas stove tops dangerously close to wood cabinets, bedrooms that could maybe fit a single queen bed and nothing else.   Everything I saw was awkward.  Once the novelty wore off I would certainly be frustrated with the cramped and awkward living spaces.

  • SeattleProf

    This is certainly a creative project, but there are warts.  First, some of the units have decks that look into the frosted window of a neighbor.  I don’t know about you, but I would find it awkward to hang out of my not so private deck, knowing that even having a conversation will intrude on my neighbor’s main living space.  Second, cost-cutting is apparent everywhere.  The cabinet quality is bad, e.g., exposed staples, panels delaminating.  Finally, some of the bathroom tile work is embarrassingly cheap. 

  • Arcos

    Nobody seems to have noticed the fine print. This is a bankruptcy sale with no construction warranty. Given the age of the building and the apparent cheapness of construction, you would have to be crazy to buy one of these.