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May 27, 2021
Real estate is all about location, but timing is also critically important.
It took a total of 25 years to assemble the five parcels on West Seattle’s Alki Beach where Infinity Shore Club is being developed. We had a vision several years ago to develop a waterfront residential community for the Pacific Northwest that was inspired by luxury properties in Hawaii, Florida, California, Mexico and the Mediterranean. We assembled the best possible collaborators to make that dream a reality a team that includes Bob Tiscareno Architects, Susan Marinello Design, Walsh Construction, CDI Engineering and many more. Our objective was and is to create a coming-of-age condominium design for Seattle.
Then the pandemic hit. Then the West Seattle Bridge was closed.
Those two events created a great deal of uncertainty in the market. How quickly could we get back to work on construction and do it safely? How would this impact the economy? What was the outlook for the city of Seattle? A year later we have a lot of answers to those questions.
We never wavered from our belief in the project or in the city of Seattle. Vibrant Cities is a locally based multifamily developer that operates specifically in the urban core areas of Seattle and Portland. We currently have 12 projects in development totaling 1,735 units. Infinity Shore Club is our most ambitious project to date, and we are on schedule to deliver the building later this year. So what can we learn from our experiences of the past year?
We are big believers in Seattle. We have our roots here and we choose to build here. We know we live in a world-class city that serves as a global leader in business. We are the second largest technology hub in the world behind Silicon Valley and we actually have more software engineers. We have critical mass and companies from startups to global brands will continue to be a major driver.
As a result, Seattle is an incredibly resilient real estate market. We have all seen how residential sales have outperformed just about every other region in the country. We need to build supply at all price points. What you might not realize is our relative value when compared to other waterfront cities on the West Coast. Perspective matters. We have a lot of room for capital appreciation compared to similar cities. For example, the price per square foot for luxury condominiums ranges from $2,000 to $3,000 in Vancouver, B.C., San Francisco, or Laguna Beach, California, while Infinity Shore Club will start at $1,200. A relative bargain.
COMMITMENT TO QUALITY
We remained fully committed to several investments to deliver quality at Infinity Shore Club some of which is seen but much of it is not as obvious. One example is our Type 1 steel and concrete construction, providing the highest of structural standards for long-lasting durability and engineering. While much more expensive, it offers critical elements for game-changing vision. It of course enhances fire resistance and adds stability, which are both important. But it also allows for much more open floor plans that take full advantage of the walls of windows that look out at Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
And we’ve created a two-story clubhouse, rooftop deck and backyard oasis that not only serve as an extension of the home but also as a gathering place to build community. We could have created additional units to sell with that space, but we were committed to creating a resort-like residence.
Just as a few additional examples: the centerpiece infinity pool (Four Seasons Seattle has the only other such pool in Seattle) required intense collaboration with our design, engineering and construction teams; we have two elevator banks to ensure privacy and ease of access; and we’re installing electric car charging stations for each of the 37 homes.
We would not change a thing. It was a tough year for many obvious reasons. We were able to get back to work quickly once we instituted safety protocols and we are excited to complete the project.
Infinity Shore Club is a positive case study for anyone investing in Seattle real estate. There is always some level of risk and you always face unknown challenges. We were in the middle of developing a high-end waterfront condominium on Alki Beach that set out to be a game changer just as the world was going through a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and the bridge to downtown was closed. We stayed the course, and we have no doubt the end result will stand the test of time. The design and quality equals that of other world-class properties that provided the inspiration. Seattle is ready for this.
While some things will evolve post-pandemic, most aspects of daily life will start to return to normal. Washington state is opening up on June 30 and the West Seattle Bridge will be operational in 2022.
We have a passion to reinvest in our city and help make it a more vibrant and prosperous place for all to call home. It’s been well worth the time required to realize this dream, not just for our team but for those who will call Infinity Shore Club home for many, many years to come.
James Wong is co-founder and CEO of Vibrant Cities.