The Sky (Viaduct) Is Falling (Closing for 3 weeks) – BE PREPARED

We already hate Seattle traffic.  And it is about to get A LOT worse.

Watch the Video Here.

 It will be the longest highway closure that Seattle has ever seen.   Starting at 10pm on Friday, January 11th, Hwy 99 (commonly known as the viaduct), will close from South Spokane Street to south of the Battery Street tunnel.  This stretch of the freeway will be close for at least 3 weeks before the new tunnel opens.  WSDOT must realign the highway (and all on and off ramps) before it can open the tunnel.

What This Means For YOU:

  Times like these are why I always push my homebuyers to prioritize location over the size/amenities of a home.  But Seattle can be darn expensive, and not everyone can live walking distance from work.   These suggestions are ideal:

  • Work from home (if the boss will let you)
  • Adjust your work hours to come in early (or late) to avoid peak travel times
  • Bike or walk to work (your waistline will also thank you)

If those aren’t an option for you, think about taking transit.  King County is going to increase frequency of many popular routes, but it is still anticipated that transit is going to be more full than usual.   These transit options are predicted to be your best bets:

  • The Water Taxi – This should be the most reliable and least crowded option available
  • Take the Light Rail – Since the light rail has it’s own tracks and doesn’t need to navigate city streets, it is expected to run smoothly and on-time, no matter what traffic is happening around town.  Seattle will be adding extra cars and increasing frequency of trains during peak commute hours.
  • Take the bus.  This is the worst of the best options, as buses are in the same traffic as everyone else, but if we can get more folks to NOT have cars in town and take the bus instead, this will help everyone involved.  Take note that these 12 bus routes are seriously impacted during this period and will be running at different times and some stops will be impacted.
If you MUST drive during these 3 weeks:
  • Grab a buddy, make it a carpool, and enjoy our carpool lanes
  • As an FYI – the express lanes allow for single occupant vehicles to exit most exits between Northgate and downtown, so if you can’t carpool, still consider the express lanes
  • I’m a big fan of Google maps for real-life drive times, but Seattle has invested a lot into the updated WSDOT Travel Times website and the local traffic cameras website
  • If you are a fan of history, you can check out the impact of the 2016 viaduct closure here.   Experts predict we will have a similar but amplified experience during the 2019 closure.
What Seattle Is Doing To Help Keep Things Moving:
  • WSDOT opened a new transportation management center in Shoreline, that will be staffed 24/7 and communicate with local transportation centers and transit hubs to expedite the available resources to the areas in need.
  • 2 additional incident response teams have been added to quickly help and remove any accidents that impede our already nasty traffic.
  • They are adding additional electronic message signs to give travel times and suggested alternate routes.
  • WSDOT will increase signal monitoring and be adjusting signal timing daily to meet the changing needs of individual intersections.
  • They will be restricting lane closures by third parties during the 3 week period.  That will restrict construction work but keep surface streets free for cars and buses.
The Last Word:

Be nice.  Pack your patience and some snacks.  We are all in this together.  In a year we will barely remember what having the viaduct was like, and if all goes well, traffic will be better.  A little optimism never hurt anyone 🙂

Chicken Coops! The Backyard Bestie

Who doesn’t want a neighbor that gives you free food?  The urban farmer, and specifically the backyard chicken has had a huge spike in popularity over the last 10 years.   If you are thinking about having backyard chickens, here are a few things to consider:

  1. The City of Seattle allows up to 8 chickens per lot.
  2. Roosters are NOT allowed
  3. Your chicken coop (or whatever structure you house your chickens in) must be at least 10 feet away from any residential structure on a neighboring lot.

   

A member of the Seattle Living Spaces family was kind enough to let us film our #QuickTipTuesday video about backyard chickens at her house.  Meet the chickens!

#CoffeeWithChristy – Herkimer Coffee on Dexter

Episode #6 – Herkimer Coffee at 901 Dexter Ave N.

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What makes this coffee shop so special?

Herkimer is a coffee company that is dedicated to sustainable coffee.  They have three Seattle locations, one here on Dexter, one in Ravenna, and one in Phinney Ridge.  The care that they put into preparing every cup of coffee is obvious, and the flavor of the coffee is amazing!

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Atmosphere:

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Although this coffee shop is fairly small, it lives large with great design details and lots of natural light.   Seating is available both upstairs and downstairs,  giving plenty of options to sit by the front window and be social, or tuck away upstairs on your laptop and get work done in peace and quiet.

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Why I will go back:

This is the closest, non-Starbucks coffee shop to my house and office.  The coffee is really good, there is always a place to sit, and I love to support a business that has such an outstanding and globally focused business model.

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Who I was with:

This time, I was solo.  I had an hour to kill before I met up with Max for lunch on Queen Anne, and decided to enjoy a great cup of coffee and catch up on emails.

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About the neighborhood:

This location is situated in the up and coming neighborhood that doesn’t really have it’s own established name yet.  Some call this Westlake, some call this Queen Anne, some call it Dexter and some call this South Lake Union.  Regardless of what you call it, this neighborhood (that also happens to be the neighborhood I call home), has seen a huge boom in popularity and construction, mostly fueled by all of the Amazon development.

The face of Dexter:

Dexter

This two bedroom, 1.75 bath bungalow sold in April for $430,000.  With 1,260 square feet of living space and a little tiny lot, it was still one of the more affordable homes sold in April.

 

#CoffeeWithChristy – Storyville Coffee Pike Place

Episode #6 – Storyville Coffee at 94 Pike St. #34

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What makes this coffee shop so special?

Storyville is a for-giving company that donates large portions of it’s profits to organizations to end human trafficking.  Storyville roasts their own coffee, and has been doing so since 2006.   This location (in the heart of Pikes Place Market), also adds to the cool factor.  Each cup of coffee or espresso is hand crafted with love, and served in beautiful cups.

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Atmosphere:

This location is a fantastic combination of dark and light.  The furniture is a combo of leather and metal, reclaimed wood tables and benches, and the back wall features a beautiful fireplace.  The only external wall features huge, cathedral style windows that showcase the beauty of the market and the Puget Sound.   Edison bulbs hang from the ceiling and the main seating area features a giant game of Chinese checkers.

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Why I will go back:

The coffee was delicious.  The atmosphere was both cozy and bright, and had a great buzz of energy from both tourists and locals alike.  It always feels good to support a business that has a greater good outside of profit.  And, this is a great place to take someone that has never been.  Knowing about this coffee shop adds to my “coffee street cred”. 🙂

Who I was with:

I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with my best friend, Jason King.  Jason is the founder and owner of CondoSites (websites for condo communities).  Of course we talked about coffee, since we are both avid coffee drinkers and used to meet for coffee 3 – 4 times a week before he sold his Belltown condo and moved to San Diego last year.  We also talked about condos, specifically the challenges that come with owning and living in one.  We both plan to write a novel about the importance of understand the implications of the information provided in a resale certificate and how to spot a special assessment coming.

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About the neighborhood:

Downtown is best known for the skyscrapers and nightlife, but surprisingly, it is home to 67,000 people (almost 10% of the Seattle population!).   82% of downtown residents are renters, and 42% boast a car-free lifestyle.  The average age is younger than the Seattle average, the household size is smaller, and the median income is lower.

  • Average sold price of a condo in 2015: $803,977
  • Current average list price for a condo: $1,979,386 (yes, over a million dollars!)
  • Number of condos currently for sale: 53
  • Average resident income: $66,822 annually
  • Average resident age: 36 years old
  • Average household size of 1.4 people
The face of Downtown:

Downtown SOLD

This one bedroom condo at the Cristalla (2033 2nd Ave.) sold on 5/19/2016 for $808,000.  The condo boasts sweeping views, world class amenities and an ideal downtown location.   With just one bedroom, one bathroom, and one private patio, this 928 square foot condo sold for over $870 per square foot.   City living can be pricey!

 

#CoffeeWithChristy – La Marzocco on Lower Queen Anne

Episode #5 – La Mazocco Cafe at 482 1st Ave N.

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What makes this coffee shop so special?

Just about everything.  It is located in the lobby of the new KEXP station right across from the Key Arena.  It has limited coffee and snack options, but the atmosphere, location, and overall vibe make it my new favorite coffee shop in Seattle.  And they serve Stumptown Coffee, for now.  You can never go wrong with Stumptown.  According to the website, they rotate different coffee brands monthly, so each visit can be a new adventure.

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Atmosphere:

Well, this place is about as cool as it gets!  Not only is it located AT the KEXP studios, they have a massive space with a really cool design.   The space has tall ceilings, seating for at least 50 people with a variety of tables and chairs and couches and arm chairs.  They even have roll-up garage doors that open up to a lovely courtyard.  They broadcast live KEXP at a good volume all throughout the space, really driving home the cool factor.

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Why I will go back:

The coffee, although strong, was delicious, the staff was friendly and the free wifi was fast and didn’t need a password.  This is a also a great place to people watch, and see and be seen.  On top of that, the restrooms are clean and gorgeous and the live KEXP stream that fills the space make this a one-of-a-kind coffee house.

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Who I was with:

I had the pleasure to meeting Jess, a long time friend and graphic designer.  Jess is one of the creators of the interactive art project #lovethehill. We talked about music (of course), the presidential campaign (don’t get me started!) and how cute little kids are, especially when they do goofy stuff like fall or walk around in shoes that are too big.  Jess is a lot cooler than I am, and she gave me a quick update on new music and upcoming music festivals.  Without friends like her, I would forever be listening to Motown and obscure 90’s rap.  Thanks Jess for keeping me relevant!

About the neighborhood:

Lower Queen Anne is a great mix of renters (63%) and homeowners.  Most of the housing in Lower Queen Anne is condos, with a few luxury single family homes mixed in.  One of the great things about the LQA neighborhood, is the large number of 100+ year old condo buildings.  The neighborhood is also one of the most walkable in the city and has endless dining, nightlife and coffee options.

  • Average sold price of a condo in the last 12 months: $388,669
  • Current average list price for a condo: $1,098,048 (yes, over a million dollars!)
  • Number of condos currently for sale: 23
  • Average resident income: $64,000 annually
  • Average resident age: 34 years old
  • Average household size of 1.7 people
The Face of Lower Queen Anne:

lqa soldThis 2 bedroom/2 bathroom condo sold on 12/15/2015 for $390,000.  It is located right by Kinnear Park, boasts 1,075 square feet of living spaces and private patio.  All the photos and details here.