The Blue Angels are here in Seattle for Seafair. This is Seafair’s biggest weekend with the Blue Angels and the hydroplane races happening on Lake Washington. Yesterday, I got to out on Lake Washington and watch the Blue Angels in a practice session for Saturday and Sunday’s big shows. It was amazing to see all the boats out there on a gorgeous Friday afternoon. We we just north of the I-90 bridge and got a great view. Unfortunately, my photos don’t do the show justice. The planes move so fast that by the time I captured a plane (s) in my viewfinder, they were long gone! It’s thrilling to see the planes fly in formation. At one point, some of the planes were flown upside down!
If you live in the Seattle area, come out to see the show. It’s spectacular.
Do you think of downtown Bellevue as a drive-through from the highway to the mall? I bet most Eastsiders zoom along NE 8th to the mall. Most have probably never walked around downtown Bellevue. This should not come as a surprise, since downtown Bellevue was designed to accommodate a car culture.
I’ve lived on Seattle’s eastside, near downtown Bellevue for 25 years. I’ve been all over downtown Bellevue. I’ve watched it change dramatically from a handful of tall buildings to a city dominated by buildings, some over 40 stories tall.
But I, too, had never just walked around downtown just for the sake of walking. Bellevue is a great place to walk around and explore. It’s made an amazing transformation from a car centric downtown to a place to live, a destination place, and a great place to walk.
I did that just this past weekend. I walked from the Bellevue Square mall over to the Bravern as part of the Seattle Architecture Foundation’s Bellevue 2.0 tour.
I know a lot about Bellevue’s history and real estate, but I learned a few more tidbits from the two great guides, John Hotta and Eli Lemanski. The tour began at the mall on the second floor of Macy’s in the women’s jeans department. (Kind of fitting for Bellevue, since the mall has always represented downtown.)
It started as an outdoor shopping mall (bet you didn’t know that) was enclosed, expanded, and became one of the top 20 malls in the country. The granddaddy of all arts fairs takes place in the parking garage of said mall. The art fair is a true winner. The caliber of art is far above most art fairs, even if it’s in the mall garage.
From the second floor perch in Macy’s there’s a great view of the downtown skyline. The Bellevue Art Museum is right across the street from the mall as is Lincoln Towers with its Westin. Bellevue Place is just down the street.
You can also see some of the newer “kids on the block,” Washington Square, Bellevue Towers,
and the City Center Plaza from the big window. A walkway begins right across from the mall and can take you almost across downtown, which we ultimately did.
One of the most creative new buildings is the Elements complex. Not only is the exterior fascinating,
if you have a chance to step inside the lobby, it’s quite interesting.
The tour is great in the sense that you are out seeing the city, but wisely takes advantage of many indoor sites for long conversations. We got to see the view from Lincoln Tower and the City Center building. Of course, it was pretty foggy out, so the stellar views of Lake Washington, Seattle, and Mt. Rainier were all behind the fog.
Lots of great questions were answered by the guides and many of the participants, including me, added their share of information regarding downtown Bellevue.
Here are some of the questions that will be answered if you take this tour:
- Where did the bricks come that were used to construct the Bellevue Library?
- What country is planning a consulate in Bellevue?
- What architectural firms were active in downtown Bellevue development?
- Who are Bellevue’s 3 biggest employers?
- What’s going to be built north of the Hyatt?
- Who was Meydenbauer?
- What was the first hi-rise in downtown Bellevue?
- What’s the difference between curtain walls and window walls in skyscrapers? (This one was graciously answered by one of the participants, so that may not come up on your tour)
- Whose wood sculptures can be found decorating some of the buildings and plazas in downtown Bellevue? (one of my contributions, so it may or may not come up on your tour.
- Where was the first Bellevue Art Museum?
You’ll have to take the tour to find out the answer to these questions. The tour is fun, engaging and a nice thing to do on a Saturday morning. Let’s hope the day you take the tour you get to see some of the stellar views available from downtown Bellevue.
The Seattle-eastside market is balanced. Surprised by that? Here’s why I say this: A balanced market is when homes on average are selling in 3-6 months. This means there was a more level playing field between buyers and sellers during that particular month, in this case November 2010. Given the news we hear, it’s surprising to think of the eastside real estate market in this way.
Does this mean it’s no longer a challenge to sell a home? Absolutely not. The competition is still very stiff. There are a lot of homes for buyers to buy. A market in which it takes homes 3-6 months to sell is still a challenging, but not a terrible, real estate market. In a balanced market, some homes sell quickly for a good price, others take a lot longer to sell with a steep discount in the the asking price, and still others don’t sell at all. I’m still going to be telling home sellers to have the best home out there and expect a sale to take a long time to happen. Homes that sell have to be a really good value to be the ones that sell. Believe it or not, this is pretty typical of a more balanced, realistic market. A realistic market is not a fast paced real estate market. A realistic market will have some distressed home sellers. Although this is a cause of major concern and I am not minimizing the situation for those who are distressed sellers, the majority of eastside homes are NOT distressed sales.
What do the 3 digit numbers on the map mean?
The map is divided into the numbered areas as defined by our Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS). Downtown Bellevue is area 520 and East Bellevue is area 530, as an example.
What do the colors mean?
Red means it’s a sellers’ market, a sellers’ advantage. Homes take less than 3 months to sell.
Yellow means a balanced market between buyers and sellers. Homes on the average take 3-6 months to sell.
Green means it’s a buyers’ market. Homes take longer than 6 months to sell.
If you take each area as shown on the map and look to the area number on the side of the map, it will tell you how long it would take to sell every home currently for sale if no other home came up on the market in that area.
Seattle Rocks! Seattle is the second best place to live in the country, according to Kiplinger’s. It’s because we’re smart!
Kiplinger’s study had an important tenet when evaluating cities. The top cities included smart people, great ideas, and collaboration.
After researching and visiting our 2010 Best Cities, it became clear that the innovation factor has three elements. Mark Emmert, president of the University of Washington in Seattle, put his finger on two of them: smart people and great ideas. But we’d argue that it’s the third element — collaboration — that really supercharges a city’s economic engine. When governments, universities and business communities work together, the economic vitality is impressive.
This is a hub of innovation as the home of Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, and Expedia are among many strong innovators in the Seattle area. The economy, the schools, the natural beauty with lakes, mountains, and Puget Sound
are all draws to the area.
Did I also mention that the fresh food and produce available in the N0rthwest is fabulous?
Looking for a home and want a good neighborhood which maintains its value over time? Even though prices have dropped considerably and homes are more affordable, it’s important to investigate everything that could add value to your home purchase. No matter whether you’re a single person, have a family or are an empty nester, look at the reputation of the local school system. It can add or detract from the value of your home and its ultimate price tag when you go to sell. It’s something to think about here on the eastside as we have many good schools in several school districts, but the Bellevue Schools come to mind first, since they’ve been mentioned both in Newsweek and US News.
Check out local city websites and school system websites. It’s so easy today to google a specific school system and find out all kinds of information.
When housing markets go south, “areas with exceptional schools tend to hold their value better than the market overall,” says Michael Sklarz, president of Collateral Analytics, a Honolulu-based firm that specializes in real estate data analysis.
From Sarah Max of The Wall Street Journal:
State assessments, independent ratings from websites like GreatSchools and Education.com and annual magazine rankings of America’s top high schools have not only made it easy for parents to factor school test scores and parent-teacher ratios into their buying decisions, they’ve cemented the relationship between home prices and school quality.
But nothing comes without trade offs. Because good schools add dollars to the cost of homes, it could mean a smaller or older home or a smaller lot. The decision to purchase the bigger or newer home in a less desirable district has to be weighed with the options for a home available in the better school district. For some people, the bigger house works better and is more important. For others, the quality of the schools themselves may be more important than the house.
Seattle-eastside new condo buildings are standing half empty. American Public Media took a look at the Seattle and Bellevue condo market in a piece aired on NPR last week. Below are some of the key points:
Escala, here in front of us, it’s 230 units. And they’ve only sold two in the last year-and-a-half.
The over-building is visible in surrounding cities as well, like Bellevue, where the new Bellevue Towers added 550 condos to the market.
Jeff Tyler interviewed Michael Brandt, who purchased a unit in Bellevue Towers last year.
Brandt: I’m actually not paying home owners’ dues right now, and won’t be for potentially a year-and-a-half or two years down the road.
So, the perks for condo owners now are no home owners dues or lines to use the public spaces and/or equipment and the quiet. The negatives are no representation on the home owners’ association board until 60% of the units sell, a mostly empty building, and real difficulty reselling a condo now, since there are still so many unoccupied units for sale.
Some buyers may still want to buy in one of the condo towers because the hope is to get a screaming deal. For certain buyers who plan to stay and make one of the new condos a home, then it may make sense to do so. The Bellevue-Seattle condo real estate market should come around again, But don’t buy in one of the towers if your plan is to sell anytime in the next 5 years. In fact, I’d plan to stay put for a good 10 years. Maybe the condo market will change before that time, but I’d go for a really good deal and plan to stay for a long time if I were buying a Seattle or downtown Bellevue condo.
It’s funny, last night I was just talking with a neighbor about Bill Gates and how he and Melinda had the power to change the world, making it a better place for all. Previously, The Gates Foundation has focused mostly on health and education. Now Mr. Gates is taking on climate change.
Gates spoke about his commitment to using his massive philanthropic resources (the Gates Foundation is the world’s largest) to make life better for people through public health and poverty alleviation (“vaccines and seeds” as he put it). Then he said something he’s never said before: that is it because he’s committed to improving life for the world’s vulnerable people that he now believes that climate change is the most important challenge on the planet.
His formula for zero emissions was explained:
According to Gates, P is for people, S is for the services needed by the people, energy (E) is what it takes to provide these services, and C is for the CO2, the amount of carbon emitted from the production of the energy to provide these services to the population.
Alex Steffen in his Worldchanging post had an addition to the Gates equation:
What’s more, protecting and healing the biosphere is essential to meeting the climate crisis itself. Logging our forests, over-burdening our oceans, converting land for agriculture and grazing, all these are huge contributors to our climate problem, and restoring the capacities of natural systems to absorb carbon dioxide is a critical part of the solution.
In order to truly succeed, we need to improve the quality of our natural systems at about the same rate at which we’re converting the economy to clean energy. Properly, Gates’ Equation would include a value for nature:
CO2 = P x S x E x C ÷ N
This post is an important one. I like the “global” perspective of the issue. Mr. Steffen believes we need to rethink “our relationship to stuff” and plan more effectively with interactive systems or networks, such as designing zero-impact cities.
Cities are the tools we need for reinventing prosperity. We can build zero-impact cities, and we need to. Any answer to the problem of climate change needs to be as focused on reinventing the future as powering it.
After reading through the post, I skimmed the comment section. Some don’t think zero emissions is possible. Many people will find this all to daunting of a proposition, but it’s a goal worth working towards. Even if it’s not fully achieved, working in the direct of zero emissions is the direction we should be heading towards.
What do you think about zero emissions? I realize this is a very complex issue and I’m only skimming the surface here, but is talk about it realistic? Is it a goal we should strive for in our daily lives?
The plan may have flaws in its implementation, which others are better equipped to address, but from my vantage point, Gates can play a huge role in raising the awareness for climate change. Perhaps the climate experts should sit down and hash out a plan with Mr. Gates. Having the voice of Bill Gates on your side is huge.