Keller Williams Greater Seattle, Ben Kakimoto, Seattle Condo Agent

The Volta Condominium – Belltown

By on February 26, 2010 in Belltown Condos, Feature, Real Estate with 14 Comments

Update 9/13/2011: The project, which had been foreclosed, was recently purchased by a New Jersey real estate investment company. I suspect they will complete the project as apartments in the near term.

A year over due, the last of Seattle’s new condominium developments is finally nearing completion. The boutique development at 1st Avenue & Bell Street, which was previously known as Alex, has been rebranded the Volta Condominium. I had an opportunity to tour the building and chat with the new marketing team recently.

When I last spoke to developer Gerry LaCaille in 2007, the original Alex concept reflected the booming condo market – upscale, customized and highly personalized catering to various buyer profiles. Today, it’s another story. The downtown condo market has struggled with the proliferation of high-end condo buildings creating a tough environment in which to bring a new development to market. Fortunately, like Enso and Escala, Volta has repositioned itself to appeal to a larger segment of buyers. Volta will still offer an array of layout and size options appealing to a wide range of buyers but with more standardized finishes allowing it to enter the market at reasonable price points.

Volta Condo logo seattle

Why the name Volta, you ask? Two reasons. First, to provide a fresh start with a new marketing & sales team. Second, it’s a marketing play on the name. The building has been renamed in honor of Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, known for inventing the electric battery. Alessandro pays homage to the project’s original name, Alex. The building is situated just two blocks from the Battery Street tunnel and the center of Volta’s medallion logo bares a likeness of the top of a modern battery.

Volta Condominium features 34 home homes with 20 different floor plans within its compact 8-level design. The ground floor will contain a commercial space and a live/work loft with one-bedroom, one-bedroom + den and two-bedroom homes above ranging in size from 626 to 1,095 square feet. There are two penthouses that will offer soaring 15′ ceiling heights, skylights, spectacular views and large private roof top decks.

The one-bedrooms on the west side and the two-bedroom north facing homes appear to have the most appeal, offering good living space and views. The 4th floor north facing units also have private decks.

The building and home interior features include:

  • Two color and finish schemes – Cognac (light) and Slate (dark)
  • Quadruple glazed four layer windows for noise reduction
  • Vast floor-to-ceiling windows providing ample light and views, in most units
  • High ceiling heights, up to 15′ in the penthouses
  • Oversized stained wood doors to individual units
  • Hardwoods in the entry, hallways and kitchen; carpet in living and bedrooms
  • Whirlpool Gold stainless appliances with Bosch and Viking upgrade options
  • Custom Euro Concept kitchen cabinetry
  • Slab silestone counters with under mount sinks

It’s unfortunate that the living area will be carpeted particularly when many of the homes have an open kitchen / living design. Having hardwoods throughout would provide a more seamless finish. Perhaps that will change as the floors are laid. In order to keep prices down several items are not included with purchase, namely washer and dryers and parking. Aside from the penthouses, which comes with two parking spaces each, parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis for $25,000. At this writing, storage is still being worked out. It may be included with every home or offered as an option.

Prices start from $299,950 for a one-bedroom and range up to $1,095,950 for a large west-facing penthouse shell. The project has applied for FHA approval as 28 of the homes are within FHA’s loan limit. More pricing info to come shortly.

Amenities are limited to the main lobby and a roof top deck, though that helps to keep HOA dues down which is expected to be around $.44 per square foot. The roof deck, located on the east side of the building will include a dog run area and green space.

The sales center is slated to open at the end of April / early May with first occupancy expected in July. Though only a handful of units are presently listed in the MLS, all homes are available for pre-sale purchase.


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About the Author

About the Author: Ben Kakimoto is a Seattle condo and urban real estate marketing & listing specialist. Contact Ben to learn more about the Seattle condo and loft real estate market or about buying or selling a Seattle area condo. Find Ben on Twitter and Facebook. .


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  1. Volta takes a hiatus? | The Seattle Condo Blog | June 16, 2010
  1. This looks an impressive development. How do the prices look in relation to the competition? It would be interesting to know what level of demand exists for this type of project in relation to current resale projects. Nevertheless, this looks a well specked quality project.

  2. SteveP says:

    It is unfortunate timing to hear Volta projects completion just weeks after the deadline for the federal tax credit. Homes need to be closed before July 1st for $8,000 for 1st time buyers, $6,500 for second home buyers. To think, this project was advertised to finish in Fall 2008.

    Danielle, in Ballard looks like it is in the same boat. It is still in framing and begin advertising closings in summer 2009.

  3. Ben Kakimoto says:

    Now having more information on Escala pricing, Volta does have stiff competition especially with parking being a $25,000 option. With only 29 parking spaces for 34 units, not everyone will have a space. On the other hand, Volta is in the heart of the lively Belltown district and only blocks from the Pike Place Market. Technically, the project is 2 yrs over due, but then every project built in the last cycle finished well past their original completion dates.

  4. These sound really nice. They remind me of 40 Park Condos in Morristown that are going up around the green. They had a grand opening last week and they’re gorgeous. Same type of setup and they’re selling.

    I heard that Seattle was recently voted one of the safest and/or healthiest places to live in the country. Congratulations!

  5. DJ Morris says:

    Are new buyers having trouble getting financing for condos in your area? I have a had a real tough time in Jupiter, Florida getting approvals for buyers who easily qualify….the rental percentages of the buildings are what is hurting the approval process. What are the effects of financing condos in Seattle?

  6. Ben Kakimoto says:

    DJ – it’s tougher to finance condo purchases nationwide as a result of recent Fannie Mae and FHA guideline changes and lenders looking to reduce their risk. Though, locally, the rental/investment percentage isn’t that significant of an issue. However, it has led to owner disagreements and lawsuits at a few condos…which does, in turn, make it nearly impossible for buyers to obtain financing.

  7. Ashlee says:

    Luckily we here in Fort Worth only have 1 condo unit that we are having problems getting finacing in. Lets hope it stays that way! These new condos sound great and hopefully they sell fast!

  8. Maureen Khan says:

    I concur with Moraira Properties. As the initial listing agent for the project, I enjoyed learning about the myriad high quality components involved. First, you have the development team, Gerry LaCaille and Michael Alford. This building was a dream project for them…an exceptional building in an exceptional location, with all the bells and whistles. Gerry headed the project, and he is a fellow who does not settle for mediocrity. Thus, the building boasts a Mitsubishi HVAC system which is essentially Nassau quality. Similarly, the boiler system is superior to what we usually see in this size project, and the result is that it would be impossible for a resident to ever run out of hot water, even if all residents were showering simutaneously and washing clothing and running the dishwasher.

    Someone mentioned the windows. Quadruple glazed is pretty special, and this type of window is unprecedented in Seattle, as far as I know. The interior sides are a gorgeous beefy wood that can be stained or painted to match the decor or flooring. The exterior is a hearty metal that is painted a clasic green. I could go on and on, but the most important aspect of Volta is the building philosophy behind it. LaCaille and Alford are of the belief that it is our obligation to build responsibly. Thus, this particular condominium is actually built Beyond Green. They did not build it to this level of quality to obtain a designation for following minimum guidelines so that you can market your property as Green. Rather, this is a consistently implemented priority of the company, Saltaire, Inc. And, it goes further with a comprehensive belief in always going above and beyond, as demonstrated by the calibur of the foundation design. The compenents of the foundation far exceed, in terms of size and area coverage, what would be “code” or what you will see in other buildings of the same size.

    So, yes, this is a special building in many ways. The pricing, I was kindly shown by the marketing team, is not aggressive; yet, it is “menu pricing”, so do not bother submitting a low-ball offer at this juncture. The prices are what they are. The location alone can justify the pricing. It’s First and Bell, for goodness sakes!

    You all are welcome to contact me if desired.

  9. Steve says:

    Maureen, what’s Nassau quality and beefy wood?

  10. Maureen Khan says:

    Hi Steve,
    By “Nassau quality”, I refer to Mitsubishi Industry’s high standards for their many products, which include equipment used in space programs, hydroelectric dams,jets, heavy construction equipment, etc… Mitsubishi is the leader in heating and cooling technology, with products that are super efficient, ultra quiet, and extremely reliable.

    To expound upon my description of the interiors of the windows, the wood used is a unique indigenous, South American wood, somewhat like cedar. The “beefy” aspect refers more to the design and appearance of the window trim. “Substantial, without being bulky, and definitely stylish”.

    Hope that helps.

  11. gloomy gus says:

    So Steve, from her clarification I think by “Nassau quality” Maureen means “I’m not so good at accuracy as you can see from my spelling, and that’s why I couldn’t tell what a dog of a project this building would be”.

  12. Onyxx Investments says:

    Looks like another project gone sidways. This property is set for auction on 3-18-2011
    Expect this to go into receivership thereafter.

  13. Steve says:

    Gerry and Michael made a small fortune in the days by over charging their clients, and providing sub standard work.
    They should have known the leverage pendulum would someday swing against them.
    Losing this project – couldn’t happen to a better few guys.
    Karma is an amazing thing.

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