Keller Williams Greater Seattle

Rolling Street Flats converts to apartments

It had been anticipated given the low pre-sales rate that Rollin Street Flats would convert to apartments, especially in light of the new Fannie Mae condo guidelines. Here’s an excerpt of the letter that was sent to pre-sale buyers:

Unfortunately, pre-sales at Rollin Street are at approximately 25%, which is below the 50 – 70% threshold Fannie Mae and most mortgage lenders require for buyers to obtain financing.

Market conditions tell us we will not achieve the required minimum 50% pre?sales in a short timeframe.

As a result, we have decided to convert Rollin Street into a rental apartment building. We will refund your earnest money deposit (currently safely held in an escrowaccount) and any deposits you made for upgrade finish options.

We had expected to be able to communicate this decision earlier, but the process of getting permission from our construction lender took much longer than we had hoped.

Additionally, they are offering a credit to Rollin Street pre-sale buyers at Vulcan’s two other SLU properties – Veer Lofts and Enso.

We appreciate the commitment that you have made to the South Lake Union neighborhood.

Recognizing this, we will offer you a credit to apply toward a purchase at either Enso or Veer Lofts–our other two condominium projects in South Lake Union. You are also eligible for a lease credit to apply toward renting a home at Rollin Street.

I actually see this as good news for the condo market. The immediate effect is the reduction of 200+ condo units from the downtown market, which is significant, and should benefit existing properties (e.g. 2200, Cosmopolitan) as well as soon to be delivered properties (e.g. Enso, Escala, Alex, Olive 8). After 2009, there will be no new condo units delivered in the downtown area until 2012 at the earliest, providing much needed time to for the market to absorb the inventory and stabilize.

So what about the prospects of the other developments that’ll be delivered this year. I believe two are on thin ice – Marselle and Danielle -and both could do well as apartments. Currently, Schnizter is adamant that Equinox will remain condos, but given the poor sales activity at all three of their Seattle projects (Brix and Gallery being the other two), it’s hard to fathom they can keep all three as near empty condo buildings. On the other hand, we’re seeing a glut of new apartments complexes in the downtown area (Olivian, Aspira, Rollin Street, Taylor 28, Axis, Hyatt Place, Moda) so there will be stiff competition for any new entrants into the rental market.

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About the Author

About the Author: Ben Kakimoto is a condo marketing specialist and publisher of The Seattle Condo Blog. Ben's focus is urban residential properties in Seattle's metropolitan core. Contact Ben to learn more about the Seattle condo and loft real estate market. Find Ben on Google+, Twitter and Facebook. .

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  1. Olive 8 Condo Redux - downtown Seattle | The Seattle Condo Blog | January 1, 2011
  1. Mike says:

    The Marselle is on thin ice…The website has not been updated in months and months. You can’t check to see what is available or prices. Not looking good for a Condo under 2 months from completion.

  2. Kevin Long says:

    Hey Mike are you the one from another blog who was a EX-Moda Buyer? I was looking at the Marselle as a possible choice.

  3. Will says:

    I’ve heard from two sources that Escala has gone apartments now too. What made them think they could keep raising prices in the present economy and still be successful? Can you confirm this?

  4. Ben Kakimoto says:

    I, personally, haven’t heard anything from credible sources yet, though anything is possible. At this time, they have not communicated anything to their pre-sale buyers about reuse. There potentially could be an issue with Fannie Mae guidelines as pre-sales are well below the 70% level required by Fannie Mae. However, they could, and I suspect they will, seek exemptions or other financing options.

  5. Chris says:

    Last I heard, Escala was around 30%. At that level, it’d be hard to get an exemption.

    I wouldn’t be shocked if they went apartments. Now would be a good time to make that decision. At least now they could scale back the finishes to save a little money.

  6. Miser says:

    Anyone able to tour these flats? I am looing for a 1BR. Anyone have an opinion on whether they’d live at Rollin St, Olivian, or instead one of the condo rentals at Cristalla?

  7. Ben Kakimoto says:

    Rollin Street’s leasing office is open and located within the building, so people can now tour the units. Their one-bedrooms start from $1,750/mo. The most notable difference between the three is location. Cristalla (and I suspect Olivian) has a more finished, refined style, where Rollin Street is a bit more industrial with exposed concrete and ducts.

  8. Miser says:

    Thanks for the input Ben.

    Unfortunately I won’t be able to visit any of these places before I move next month so I’ll just have to rely on pictures and any personal reviews I can find. I sort of like the industrial, artsy look of Rollin although wish I couold see it in person.

    As a young, single male I’d be interested in any opinions of the location differences for these buildings. I’m not that familiar with Seattle.

  9. klt2 says:

    If I were young and single, I would definitely pick Cristalla for the location. It is close to Belltown restaurants and night life, the Market and the waterfront. Rollins in in South Lake Union which is a few years away from being a “great” neighborhood. Not that much there yet. Olivian is in more of a business district. Keep in mind, each of these places are 5 to 15 minute walks from each other. You will enjoy living in downtown Seattle.

  10. Miser says:

    klt2,

    appreciate the response. that’s what I was leaning towards.

    I love the energy of the Market during the day and Belltown at night. It seems SLU is a little isolated from all that. Plus the prices at the Olivian & Rollin seem a bit elevated compared to Cristalla. My impression is that Cristalla is comparable in “luxury” (although different styles) than Olivian & Rollin but at a cheaper price..

    Ok Cristalla it is. now if only i can find a 1br for 7/1..

  11. Benny says:

    Cristalla is right in the thick of Belltown. It’s great if you are OK with all that entails (street noise on lower floors, homeless on 2nd ave). The other downside at Cristalla is that you are a renter in a condominium building, which tends to be looked down on.

    The amenities at Olivian look pretty incredible. I like that location because it’s quieter but also close to shopping and good restaurants without all the Belltown craziness.

    Rollins will be nice in a few years but it’s dead out in SLU now.

  12. Miser says:

    Hmm.. didn’t realize there was a stigma with renting a condo.. something to keep in mind i suppose.

    Olivian pictures didn’t impress me much given the price, but maybe it would be different seeing it in person.

    I liked Olive 8 when I went to the open house, hopefully a 1BR lease will open up which i can consider.

    Cristalla unit on a higher floor seems perfect, screw what other people think!

  13. Jason says:

    As a resident at Rollin Street I must say, not ready to buy – I made out well in the conversion. I got what I wanted in the end. The flats are AMAZING, very open and with great views. If you get a chance to stop in and check out the units, you will be very happy!

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