Before I dive into this week’s spotlight, a little news:
- Inventory remains level with a slight edge to sellers of urban condos. Prices are also holding up well with just a slight downward pressure primarily at the high end and on previously overpriced listings.
- The City of Vancouver appears to be moving forward with the third “Safe Stay” community to the city block owned by the Lynch Estate at Evergreen and Esther. I wrote an article expressing my displeasure with that notion you can read here. Keep in mind I am not against that program, I just feel that a block zoned for high density development is not the best choice for a low density project. The Safe Stay communities tend to be unattractive and thus can Create downward property value pressure. The city had several other ideal spots for this on the west side. Oh well so it goes.
- Interest rates seem to be stabilizing which is a good thing. I am seeing rate clocks in the high 5s for extremely well qualified buyers, but most locks are coming in the mid to upper 6s
OK Frontier Block here we go. What is Frontier Block? Back in 2001 West Coast Bank erected a type I six story mixed use building at 500 Broadway. Oddly, the building actually stands on 6th street, but that’s just semantics, right? The first four floors are class A office space and the upper two floors hold 22 condominiums ranging in size from about 1000 SF to over 2000 SF. Units on the 5th floor do not have patio balcony space but do have a defacto Juliet balcony by opening the full height window in the living room. Units of the 6th floor have exposed patios with partial cover from weather.
The building features secure underground garage with deeded spaces. There is also a public garage on top of the secure garage below grade. Units also have a deeded closet for storage just off the underground garage. This building does have some views that are likely ‘forever’ views due to its interesting location. Units facing east look out over Interstate 5 and the Fort Vancouver National Historic Park. Those views should be unobstructed indefinitely. Units facing south should have little view interruptions as the new Interstate Bridge will likely be less tall than the current spans with their 275 foot tall draw bridge towers. Units facing west and north already have a congested city view with nearby towers that are taller than these condos. However these taller structures are all more than a block away so there isn’t a claustrophobic feel here. Southwest views from this building are going to see some real change. What was once a sweeping view of the Columbia River will now see some interruption with new taller structures under construction on the waterfront.I have a Google Earth image with models that very closely represent under construction projects now as they will appear when completed in the next 12-18 months as well as a few that are still in permitting but will almost certainly get built over the next 18-24 months.
In my opinion these are still great views. Since the building is now more than 20 years old these once top tier condos can now be found at intermediate luxury prices. A 2000 SF unit can be had for less than a million dollars and that compares well to a similar unit in Tidewater that would fetch well north of $1 million and at the new Kirkland Tower would be north of $2 million. I still think this small community of 22 condos is an excellent location and perfect for those seeking a slightly less hectic street life below. This building is 3 blocks east of the Convention Center and Esther Short Park and thus is a bit more quiet especially after hours. Quiet being relative of course, you are still Downtown 😉
This building has a private secure elevator lobby separate from the office tower elevators and has a very nice class A lobby of course shared with the offices. There is not a full suite of condo amenities here so don’t expect a luxury workout center and swimming pool. Depending on how you feel about heights, I feel like the Viewpoint has the edge over Frontier Block with units on floors 8-11 but they also tend to fetch a bit more money. These condominiums have a nice little niche in our local market and for the right person they represent a genuine value in the space.
Pros and cons to Frontier Block:
|Excellent views||Some views facing future partial obstructions|
|Some well protected views||Some facing future and current partial obstructions|
|Excellent locations slightly off the busy corridors||Broadway and 6th not as nicely developed as Esther Short Park area|
|Type I construction fire resistant and quiet||no cons|
|Pricing is reasonable considering size and views||Units still in the expensive range, units are a bit dated now|
|6th floor units have patios||Patios are very small|
|Deeded secure garage parking spaces||Most spaces on a steepish angle|
|Public garage attached to building||Guests must pay to park|
|Special secure private elevator and mail lobby||General lobby shared with office tower|
Frontier Block at 500 Broadway tends to run under the radar which is good and bad. But one advantage is you get a lot of space and style for a lower price than other more “famous” projects in the area.