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Report from the Urban Living Meetup Front

By July 1, 2007

Urban Living

by guest contributor Carl Goodman

Fans of Matt’s effervescent Web site rendezvoused the other night in South Lake Union for some pub fare, brewskys, and repartee on the wonderful world of condos. We also toasted the one-year anniversary of Urban Living.com, a distinctly Seattle resource celebrating and empowering condo consumers.

Capitol Hill and Downtown were the focus of much of the assembled group’s interest. We learned how much an extra parking spot in a typical new downtown condo goes for (while it varies, $50,000 seems like the average going rate). A new purchaser at Escala described the sales process from non-binding reservation to committed purchase, including, surprise!, that the final price ended up being at the absolute top of the originally presented “range.” A resident of a Capitol Hill grande dame apartment building told of his displacement owing to a conversion to condos, which generated discussion on how condo fans also need to support increased renter protections in order to create a more stimulating and economically diverse city. Excited Trace purchasers, Rachel and Justin, joined Matt in gushing about their imminent lives as loft dwellers in a 100-year-old converted warehouse. A good third of the group seemed to have relocated to Seattle because of Microsoft. And Seattle’s growing international zest was reflected by Meetup attendees originally from Lebanon and Poland.

In a sign of the influence Urban Living.com carries, one of the attendees was representing a development team from New York and San Francisco that has plans to construct two highrise condos (one at 8th & Seneca and one at 6th & Wall). She was instructed to capture just what kind of amenities we Urban Livingites want in our condos. So, for instance, our recent online dialogues about installing fancy showers in lieu of conventional bathtubs and giving condo purchasers the ability to choose something other than the now over-used scheme of granite countertops and stainless appliances may actually have fallen on open ears. That, plus condo marketing Web sites that give more than mere sales rhetoric and allow for an exchange of information among developers, designers, and prospective and actual purchasers. If this development team actually incorporates our suggestions, we think they’ll definitely differentiate themselves in an increasingly cluttered market, creating a win-win for both them and their purchasers.

We’ll keep you posted on plans for future Meetups. Please use the Comments to make suggestions for venue and agenda items, including whether you think special presentations by RE types, developers or urban planners would be valuable — or whether we should keep the Meetups as informal conversation sessions.

And remember that Matt welcomes contributions to his Web site. Write up your opinions or compile some research about Seattle condo developments and urban issues, and email to Matt for posting as standalone stories (note that Matt is happy to reflect your wishes whether you want a byline or not, so your incisive critiques can indeed be published anonymously). Your views will then be read by the masses!

We’re on to something here in Seattle and together we can make our beloved city both more urbane and neighborly.