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Trace informational: I’m sold

By March 28, 2007

Trace Lofts, Trace North

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

First a photo from Todd Bates (via Vlad):

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.

I own and manage Urban Living, a boutique Seattle and Bellevue real estate brokerage. I love lofts, floating homes, new construction, and mid-century moderns, but I will help you buy or sell just about anything!

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