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Local Experts Sum Up Seattle's Neighborhoods in 2015

As 2015 comes to an end, we wanted to close out the year by surveying local real estate & architecture luminaries as well as trendsetters & tastemakers to get a read on the highlights and lowlights of the past year of real estate and development in Seattle. Part One of the answers to our questions are below in no particular order; all responses cut, pasted and unedited. Check back Tuesday for building discussions and Wednesday for 2016 predictions.


Image: Hammerin Man

1. Sum up "Seattle in 2015" in three words

Brad Hinthorne, Perkins+Will

"Ambition, Action, Alacrity"

Jeff J Reynolds, Urban Condo Spaces

"Steady, Traffic, Optimism"

Anthony Maschmedt, Dwell Development

"Fast-Paced, Growth, Opportunity"

Kate Knight, Redfin Builder Services

"Growing like crazy!"

Peter Orser , UW's Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies

"Un-be-lievable."

Matt Goyer, Urbnlivn

"Apartments & bidding wars"

Christian Nossum, broker and co-host of Seattle Real Estate Radio

"Totally bonkers. BOOM!"

Matthew Gardner, Windermere Real Estate

"Not enough inventory."

Charles Strazzara, president of Studio Meng Strazzara

"Growth, tech, prosperity"

Seattlish's Hanna Brooks Olsen

"Complaining, in-fighting, CityCouncilWatch2015"

Seattlish's Sarah Anne Lloyd

"Council, orcas … sun? (There was a lot of sun. An almost unprecedented amount of sun.)"

Seattlish's Alex Hudson

"Hand-wringing, pearl-clutching, rage-stroking."


Image: H. Michael Miley

2. Which Seattle neighborhood saw the most change in 2015?

Brad Hinthorne, Perkins+Will

Capitol Hill

Jeff J Reynolds, Urban Condo Spaces

I think Pioneer Square is seeing a massive transformation but I would give the upper hand to Capitol Hill. They final have their light rail, there are a number of new apartments and cool townhouses catering to the community and the restaurant scene has exploded with great local joints for their residences. An extension of downtown that is feeling just as eclectic but way more connected to DT Seattle than I can ever remember. The Hill is hitting its stride.

Anthony Maschmedt, Dwell Development

I would say Ballard. The sheer amount of units (residential/apartment/commercial) is crazy. Drive down any street, and you see multiple projects under development.

Kate Knight, Redfin Builder Services

Pioneer Square

Peter Orser , UW's Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies

While most every Seattle neighborhood experienced change in 2015, and many have put this city on edge in terms of urban growth, I believe South Lake Union takes the award for the most change this past year. It really is unbelievable what a single online retail company, Amazon, working with a well-capitalized developer, Vulcan, can do to affect change – even in a city that doesn't always vigorously embrace it.

Matt Goyer, Urbnlivn

Capitol Hill. It's streetscape was most impacted by the apartment explosion triggered by Amazon's rapid hiring.

Christian Nossum, broker and co-host of Seattle Real Estate Radio

South Lake Union is the easy answer, but I'm going to go with Capitol Hill. The turnover in demographics in that area is pretty dramatic.

Matthew Gardner, Windermere Real Estate

South Lake Union. With the continued growth of companies like Amazon, there appears to be no end in sight for the apartment boom that is going on in that area.

Charles Strazzara, president of Studio Meng Strazzara

Tie between Ballard and Capitol Hill, specifically the Pike/Pine corridor.

Seattlish's Hanna Brooks Olsen

Depends on who you ask, in that no matter who you ask, it's probably their neighborhood. Or maybe Ballard.

Seattlish's Sarah Anne Lloyd

Whatever neighborhood you are in right now, unless that neighborhood is Eastlake.

Seattlish's Alex Hudson

I recently had a conversation with an Uber driver about how SLU used to be where to go to get cheap street handies, and I'm pretty sure that's not the case anymore and probs never will be again. That's kind of the obvious choice though. Columbia City blew up pretty hard this year.


Image: SounderBruce

3. What was your favorite Seattle neighborhood or suburb in 2015 and why?

Brad Hinthorne, Perkins+Will

Capitol Hill because of the diversity and density.

Jeff J Reynolds, Urban Condo Spaces

I'm personally feeling much more connected to the Denny Triangle. As it explodes with growth, it's potential for being the epicenter of the city is unmatched. It still may be 2 years away from being cohesive and fully connected/engaged but I appreciate it for that reason. A lot of residents see too much growth, I'm embracing it and appreciate the infancy of it all. In 5 years we will look back in awe at the list of restaurants, coffee shops and community centers.

Anthony Maschmedt, Dwell Development

Columbia City hands down: Here's why...It is one of Seattle's few historical districts, its rich cultural diversity, it has a light rail stop, brand new flagship PCC Grocery Store, it hosts one of the oldest and longest running seasonal Farmers Markets, it has a ton of great eateries and bars, it sits just a few blocks from the shores of Lake Washington and hosts the annual Seafair Hydro races...and least but not last, it's where I live and work with my wife Abbey, and raise our kids Isabel (15) and William (10), and where Dwell Development has set up shop. It has everything you need in a 6 block radius...awesome indeed!

Kate Knight, Redfin Builder Services

Georgetown - industry, architecture, and still full of surprises.

Peter Orser , UW's Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies

Columbia City remains one of Seattle's "last frontiers" in terms of urban growth, but I don't think it's completely lived up to its potential, given the new light rail stations and its proximity to the downtown core. Even so, I look for continued smart, sustainable development in Columbia City over the next few years.

Matt Goyer, Urbnlivn

Eastlake. Where else can you live on the water so close to downtown?

Christian Nossum, broker and co-host of Seattle Real Estate Radio

In general, I love most North Seattle neighborhoods more than any other part of Seattle, but that's probably because that's where I live and do the majority of my business. To narrow it down, this past summer I moved my family into the View Ridge neighborhood in NE Seattle. Obviously I know a lot about neighborhoods in Seattle since I'm a born and raised Seattleite, and been a local real estate agent for the past 11 years, but now that I have 2 kids with one about a year away from entering elementary school, I really started to look at neighborhoods in a different way. Schools, safety, and sidewalks all became way more important to me than ever before. When I added everything up and looked at where we have our own little "community" of friends and activities that the kids are in, View Ridge just made sense for us.

Matthew Gardner, Windermere Real Estate

Columbia City. I like the diversity that the area offers as well as its access to downtown. It's also still reasonably affordable for a neighborhood within such close proximity to downtown Seattle.

Charles Strazzara, president of Studio Meng Strazzara

Auburn – as a suburb, it is just beginning its process. We just finished the first new mixed-use apartment building in downtown Auburn and already others are following. The best part is it is all driven by transit! The new downtown development finds itself a block away from the transit center, and many other neighborhoods will follow this same trend

Seattlish's Hanna Brooks Olsen

I feel like Greenwood has really come a long way. There are some great new businesses and housing up there, mixed in with everything that's always made it a pleasant place.

Seattlish's Sarah Anne Lloyd

This is a tricky one, but Georgetown continues to have the best sandwiches, so let's go with that.

Seattlish's Alex Hudson

There are so many great neighborhoods in Seattle. I particularly love the ID, Othello, Columbia City, and Africatown. I like neighborhoods based on the food scene. Basically anywhere I can get larb or mafe. However, First Hill will always be first in my heart (obviously).


Image: Michael Allen Smith

4. Which Seattle neighborhood or suburb did you break up with in 2015?

Brad Hinthorne, Perkins+Will

Belltown

Jeff J Reynolds, Urban Condo Spaces

Ballard – you are a heartbreaker. Although you remain popular, your housing is INSANELY expensive and as traffic gets worse and worse, we feel more and more disconnected. No offensive to the oodles of millennials that LOVE it. I don't mean to hate – you asked ;-).

Anthony Maschmedt, Dwell Development

I really haven't had a negative experience in any neighborhood where we've done work. We are continuing to build in walkable neighborhoods across Seattle and the East Side. Seattle is growing at such a fast-pace that most of the neighborhoods and communities across the city are growing in tandem.

Kate Knight, Redfin Builder Services

None of them - we're still in love.

Peter Orser , UW's Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies

That's easy – Ballard. Frankly, I don't truly understand from what traditional Norwegian recipe Ballard's secret sauce is derived!

Matt Goyer, Urbnlivn

South Lake Union because even with Mercer construction almost done, traffic is still a cluster at almost all times of the day.

Christian Nossum, broker and co-host of Seattle Real Estate Radio

I have long been a little against people moving into Ballard due to the amount of time it takes to get in and out of it (just read my answers to these questions back in 2014), but deep in Ballard is an area that I'm just not that into anymore. With so many more apartment units being constructed in the area, and no additional roads or transportation options being added, I can only see it getting harder and harder to get in and out of Ballard going east and west. That said, if you go south into downtown, traffic isn't all that bad at all. But if you work east and have to use I-5 to get to work, deep Ballard is a place that I'm saying to ignore if you're a buyer. That said, if you already live there, you're sitting pretty since there are still a lot of people that do want to live there. Maybe now if the time to start looking at getting out of the area and into a more conveniently located neighborhood.

Matthew Gardner, Windermere Real Estate

South Lake Union. Density is one thing but I fear that the preponderance of urban high-rise apartments will continue to further erode the character of this neighborhood.

Charles Strazzara, president of Studio Meng Strazzara

The Seattle waterfront, only because it's so dang hard to get to and from at the moment. But I am looking forward to its rebirth.

Seattlish's Hanna Brooks Olsen

I've always been broken up with the entire eastside and nothing has changed on that front.

Seattlish's Sarah Anne Lloyd

I live in Capitol Hill and I've always felt good about sticking around—and I still felt good about staying in 2015. I'm pretty nervous that 2016 is gonna be the year when the thrill leaves our relationship. But we have so much history, so we'll probably stay together a little while longer.

Seattlish's Alex Hudson

Ballard Haters Club 4 Lyfe.