Bellevue gets rare project: first condo tower in nearly a decade

by Mike Rosenberg | November 30, 2017 | Seattle Times

As the local condominium market continues its comeback, Bellevue is getting its first condo project since the housing crash last decade.

Vancouver, B.C.-based Bosa Development, which recently completed the Insignia condo tower in downtown Seattle, announced Wednesday it will break ground early next year on One88, a luxury condo project at Bellevue Way Northeast and Northeast Second Street next to Downtown Park.

The 21-story building will have 143 units, ranging from one-bedrooms to penthouses, and is slated to open in early 2019.

In the middle of last decade, before the recession, a few big condo buildings sprang up in Bellevue, totaling nearly 1,000 units, according to the Mark Company, which tracks condo projects.

But city officials said the last condo project to break ground was approved in 2008. Since then, the city has approved about 90 apartment and townhome buildings totaling about 4,500 units.

Even that is understating the dearth of condos: Steph Collier, a development-services official for the city, said some of the condos built last decade were converted to apartments after the housing crash made them too difficult to sell.

But now, condo sales are especially hot around King County — with prices rising faster than single-family homes — as homebuyers look for something cheaper. Across the county, condos carry a median price of $320,000, compared with $550,000 for a single-family house, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

But there aren’t many condo options available.

There were fewer than 70 condos for sale in all Bellevue as of last month, and twice as many single-family houses for sale.

Even in Seattle, despite the building boom, there are so few condos being built that some are being bought and flipped for a profit before they even open. One building recently drew overnight campers to reserve condos years away from completion.

Local developers have been choosing to build apartments over condos for financial and legal reasons.

Prices for One88 haven’t been set, but the term “luxury” used in marketing materials suggests it won’t be the cheapest option. Condo prices at the newly opened Luma on First Hill, which announced a full sellout of its 168 units this week, averaged $697,000 — a little more than the typical single-family house in Seattle.

Bosa bought the site, which housed a couple of restaurants, in 2015 for $22.8 million.

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