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Greenfire: New Boutique Apartment Building in Ballard that’s eco-friendly and cool

By May 19, 2013

Apartments, Ballard, Interior Design, Lofts

If you’re tired of the giant rectangular boxes that have popped up as apartment clones across Seattle – and if you have a crush on Ballard like I do – check out the new apartments at the Greenfire Campus, a mixed-use development with just 18-residential units and a focus on sustainable living.

Apartments at the Greenfire Campus, located at 2034 NW 56th Street

Apartments at the Greenfire Campus, located at 2034 NW 56th Street

When I went to Greenfire’s grand opening on Saturday, I was intrigued before I even stepped inside. First, the building sits right next to the Ballard Library and just a block north of Market Street and two blocks from all of the great shops and eateries on Ballard Ave. Though, food lovers who live at Greenfire can just walk downstairs and across to its sister building, which will house Skillet’s new diner. The purveyor of flavorful comfort food set parked its roving food truck right outside the campus yesterday.

Aside from its great location, the building’s exterior looks cool, or at least different from many of the cookie-cutter boxes we’ve visited in the past year.


Inside, interior designer Robin Chell said she wanted to create a “natural look that is clean and modern but not super slick”.

Light fixtures in the community room

Chell and architect Ray Johnston weren’t just going for good looks. Johnston said the goal was to achieve “sensible and social sustainability” so they, wherever possible, used sustainable construction materials that in many instances were produced in the northwest.

For example, the beautiful light fixtures above is made by graypants, a Seattle design studio known for making lights out of cardboard scraps.

The hallways are lined by a layer of recycled vinyl. In the apartments, the kitchen backsplash and the bathrooms floors are made of maumoleum (think natural linoleum) that is composed of sawdust, linseed oil and jute fibers. The kitchen countertops, while they look like quartz, are made of recycled glass.

Continuing the sustainability theme, each resident can sign up for their own p-patch in the open space throughout the campus. As Johnston said, residents can “live, work, play, and farm” without leaving Greenfire.

A rendering of the Greenfire Campus. The apartment building in on the left, the office building on the right.

A rendering of the Greenfire Campus. The apartment building is on the left, the office building on the right.

Now as for the apartment units themselves, there are good and not-so-good features. The good:

  • The layouts make good use of space so that, when combined with a lot of natural light, even the small studios feel fairly open.
  • The materials and finishes feel solid throughout the apartments.
  • Each unit has its own balcony or patio and some of the private decks are huge.
Loft-style bedroom

Loft-style bedroom


Open concept living room with plenty of light

A standard kitchen

A standard kitchen

The not-so-good:

  • The stainless steel appliances in the kitchen are on the lower end of the quality range.
  • One of the reasons the apartments feel bigger than their square footage is there isn’t a lot of closet space.
  • Most units do not have a washer and dryer, so you have to use the community laundry room.
  • There’s a price to pay to, as the marketing materials boast, “live green and live well”. Depending on your income level, you might find the rents relatively high for Ballard.

Here are the price points…

Studio loft:               510-599 sq ft    – $1,695 – $2,095/mo

1 bedroom:                674-804 sq ft  – $2,250 – $2,650/mo

2 bedroom loft:    943-1,052 sq ft  – $2,695 – $2,995/mo

2 bedroom:         1,479 – 1,521 sq ft  – Starting at $3,995/mo

A parking space costs an additional $150 per month, while storage spaces are available for $25 per month. At these prices, the Greenfire apartments are not for everyone but the developers say two of the 18 units have already been leased. I would recommend at least a tour, especially the penthouse. For more information on Greenfire, go to their website. Meanwhile, here are more photos.