Kirkland Hard Hat Tour Yields Impressive Insights

The north facing view from the 12th floor roof top garden

I participated in an agent ‘hard hat’ tour of the Kirkland Tower on Friday. The building is 90% plus complete and it does look very impressive. The tour included a peek inside the adjacent open atrium Indigo Hotel which is pretty sharp as well. I picked up a few nuggets of info along the tour.

Kirkland Tower is listed as a 12 story building with a lobby and some retail on the ground floor and floors 2-11 in condos and 12 as a community penthouse. That is all true but there is a full height mezzanine level between floors 1 and 2. That means it is quite likely any unit on the 8 floor of higher should clear the rooftop height of the new ‘Timberhouse’ tower across the street. The tower crane supporting the Timberhouse project is visible in the foreground of the photo above.

The units will feature individual HVAC systems rather than a building wide system, which is unusual in this type of structure but gives the condo owners more control over the interior climate system. These units are filled with full height glass walls on the exterior and that makes them brighter than any condo unit I have seen in Vancouver High-Rise or otherwise. Even the north facing units are light and bright!

View from 8th floor over the river.

The rooftop penthouse/patio is spacious and features a community kitchen, clubhouse, and fitness center. As promised the glass wall extends up to the patio on the roof providing a wind break from those often contemptuous winds. There is also a community garden area for residents to plant flowers of vegetables on the roof.

The representative for the builder says this will be the first project of its type in the entire metro region. Portland is working on the Ritz Carlton tower that will also feature a similar condo arrangement with a hotel – condo symbiosis like Kirkland. That tower is not likely to be complete until at least 2023.

Check the Kirkland Tower condo page to see they have released 3 listings to the MLS. The tower reports that 40% of the units are in contract so I would think that Kirkland should be most pleased with the success thus far. Keep in mind the units facing the Columbia river are commanding a large premium but the units facing Downtown Vancouver also have excellent views. Some of the Downtown side units even have some Columbia River views as well.

The Kirkland Tower and Indigo Hotel should be ready for occupancy in Q4 this year. So just a month or two to go. It turns out that the “Sky Lounge” now Called the “Witness Tree Lounge” as an homage to the historical tree that once lived nearby, will be both and 8th floor indoor lounge with outdoor patio AND a rooftop lounge as well. It will have 2 levels according to there from Kirkland.

Condo market looking about the same this week with a few more listings and about as many pending and closed. Inventory remains tight.

Activity Levels Remain High

RMLS listing picture

Downtown and the Waterfront continue to see robust levels of construction activity. As I reported last week, the Indigo Hotel and Kirkland Tower project is very near complete. Occupancy in the 12 story condo tower is expected Q4 this year and the hotel will likely open a bit earlier than that. I will be attending a “hard-hat” tour this week to get a better feel for these amazing units. The first unit in the Kirkland Tower showed up on the MLS recently. It is one of the two 11th floor “penthouse” units. This one 3056 squares with 3 beds and 3.5 baths. The views from that unit should be nothing short of spectacular.

Progress on the Block 10 project downtown seems to be moving a bit faster than some others. Perhaps Holland Partner Group is using their deep experience in building urban projects to overcome the supply chain issues plaguing so many projects here and across the country. It just seems that two tower building is ahead of the pace of other projects with similar start dates. Kudos to them.

The Yard, Milkshake Bar opened on the Waterfront recently to what has to be excellent reception. I got my first taste on Thursday afternoon. It was buzzing in there but I still was able to order and get my prize in about 20 minutes. However on Sunday under gorgeous skies and big crowds the wait after ordering was 60 minutes! That place is cranking out 18 dollar shakes and 14 dollar ice cream treats like ice cream is a ticket to the promised land. The waterfront continues to provide amazing opportunities for small business ventures to succeed. The pedestrian pathway between the Murdock building and Redivia apartment building was packed with patrons enjoying Ice Cream, wine and light meals and amazing coffee. All of these small restaurants and wine tasting venues are taking a little pressure off the marquee restaurants at the Grant Street Pier so getting seated is a little easier in those places. They are still busy, but just not so busy you can’t get a seat. The Waterfront continues to be an overwhelming hit with the community and remains the best urban city neighborhood in the metro area.

The urban condo market saw light activity with pending and closed sales outpacing listings yet again. There are still units available and the pricing seems to be stable for now.

Kirkland Tower: Oh So Close…

Kirkland Tower 8/30/2021 (center) and Indigo Hotel (right)

The Kirkland Tower project is very near complete. They are already selling units and will be doing “hard hat tours” this week for prospective buyers and some lucky agents, myself included. This is the first modern high-rise condo tower in 17 years for Downtown as the last high-rise featuring condos in the mix was Viewpoint at Vancouvercenter. But Kirkland is a dedicated condo tower rather than a mixed use office and residential tower like Viewpoint. This will be the most luxurious and complete living setup of the mid-rise and high-rise condo projects in the urban core. It likely will be the most “posh” residential units in the area including our spectacular waterfront apartments. I have been very excited about this project since they announced it back in 2018. The Covid 19 pandemic has put a serious slowdown on this as it was originally expected to open in Q4-2020 and now we are about to hit Q4-2021. So about a year’s delay. The adjacent Hotel Indigo will also open about the same time.

Between the two towers we will have some very top drawer restaurants opening including Seattle’s famed “13 Coins” and the Northwest legend, “El Gaucho.” Even if you don’t have the seven figure budget to buy one of the 40 spectacular units in Kirkland Tower, you can enjoy the “fringe” benefits of a pair of superb restaurants and even some drinks up at the 8th floor sky lounge and patio also run by El Gaucho.

In other news around Vancouver, a half dozen large projects continue construction. Angelo Tower is complete and leasing residential units, commercial office, and retail space. Aegis at the Academy a two building mid-mis apartment project is finishing up the concrete base and we should see the wood frame portion going up soon. That tends to be a rapid floor by floor build. Those visiting the Downtown branch of Fort Vancouver Library can get a birds-eye view of the Project from the north windows on the 5th floor. The AC Marriott Hotel project at Terminal One has been topped out for a few months and now the exterior cladding is being installed. The Project to remodel the cruise ship landing is far enough along that the American Empress was able to make its customary stop recently unloading hundreds of passengers to flock along the Waterfront and Esther Short Park. The ‘Timberhouse’ project is all dug out and the tower crane is now operating over the project. This one will spend several months below street grade with underground parking and foundation support underway now. The Broadstone Claro meanwhile is wrapping up the parking garage portion of the building and we should see woodframe residential floors going up soon. The largest single building apartment house in Vancouver is nearly complete. The Columbia on block 20 of the Waterfront will have some residents taking occupancy on a few floors in the next 30 days.

Activity in the past week on resale condos was quiet with just one new listing and multiple sales and pending status. So it tightened a bit. Next week I will likely report on the Kirkland Project, stayed tuned for that.

Downtown has Five Cranes Up

It will be brief, but for a few days the city skyline included five active tower cranes. Today will mark the end of that as Holland Partner Group is disassembling the crane supporting the Block Ten Project as I write this. Tower cranes are the mark of large and or tall projects that often have positive economic benefits for the community. I wrote an article about the impact of building booms on Vancouver in ‘The Couv Life’ this morning, check that out, here.

The latest crane is supporting the Timberhouse project on Block 3 of the Waterfront. That project is not a CLT design anymore, so I presume a name change is forth coming. Any way that will be the second largest single building apartment house in the city behind the nearly complete Columbia on Block 20. Columbia has 248 units and Timberhouse will feature 227 units. Timberhouse will be a tad taller with eight floors above ground rather than seven.

I have no further word on Ryan Hurley’s Washington Street Apartments. That project cleared the CCRA a few months ago. The one story building that has housed Boomerang Therapy for a long time is scheduled to be razed to make way for the full block 6 story 177 unit building. I will operate under the presumption that the tenant lease is being honored prior to demolition. Hurley has done a nice job already cleaning up that lower Downtown section that has been a bit blighted and overlooked during both building booms. Columbia Street is now the primary gateway to the Terminal One redevelopment so it makes sense that a renewal in the 4 block approach would be underway as well. Hurley Development seems to be leading the way.

Things continue to improve as more development brings more opportunity for small business and for locals to enjoy the area.

Will Vancouver be able to Maintain the Pace?

Vancouver has seen a burst in urban projects over the last several years with by my count more than a dozen cranes have dotted the skyline over the last 5 years. There are currently four cranes operating in the Downtown and Waterfront area. It seems like the pace is starting to pick up a bit again and hopefully the half dozen urban high-rise and mid-rise projects in the pipeline right now will be able to start in the next 4-6 months.

These are great projects that enhance the living experience in Vancouver as well as the visitor experience as this tends to drag in more restaurants and services to accommodate the busier urban crowd. They also bring with them excellent high paying jobs for a variety of engineers, architects, trades people, and even real estate brokers.

Last week the CCRA went over the details of the Block 18 Waterfront project, The Springs Living. This is a 12 story residential project for seniors. The upscale building will look real sharp and add a nice bookend for the slightly taller Kirkland Tower at the other end of the street. The CCRA reviewed detailed plans including full technical drawings and other important details. I’m still waiting for the video to be released to the public to gauge the response. It is a good looking project so I’d imagine they liked it. The Springs is hoping to break ground first of the year.

Locally our economy seems to be pretty strong even with the anchor that is COVID-19 chained to our feet. Portland which is shedding residents faster than new ones arrive seems to have a robust amount of crane activity which is a sign of strong economic conditions. If these prime conditions for urban development stick around a few more years, Vancouver’s amazing waterfront should be able to hit 75% buildout.

Condos this week were similar with a tightening of inventory but a little less activity.

Condos Ever Tighter Downtown

Lots of new pending sales and some closed units with nary a new listing in site, means even tighter inventory on urban condos in Vancouver. That was the scene this past week with six urban units closed or pending and no fresh listings to replace them. Vancouver’s downtown and waterfront has about 700 condominium units downtown. That may seem like a lot but it really isn’t. One might consider there are literally thousands of apartment units in the Downtown with another thousand or so under construction now. The apartment to condo ratio is heavily underweighted against owner units.

But that should change soon. Kirkland Tower should be a litmus test for future condo development in the Downtown and Waterfront areas. Kirkland’s units are very high end but they are supported by the fact that several modern projects in the Esther Short neighborhood are renting units in the $6000-$11,000 a month price range. Clearly there is demand for high end units in Vancouver. There is also hundreds and hundreds of fresh new apartments in a high end but more modest $2500-$4500 price range that also is a solid indicator that Vancouver will support condo units in almost any price range from $300,000 to multi-million dollar units.

Gramor is sitting on a proposal for a 14 story condo tower on Block 16. Once Kirkland closes on the majority of those units I would imagine finding investors to bite on that project will not be hard. That is an 80 unit proposal. Hopefully those units might include some smaller less expensive plans maybe in the $600,000-$700,000 range. Note that Kirkland’s range was $840k-$3.3 million.

Since I mentioned Gramor, they ought to get cracking on that parking structure on Block 7. They will need blocks 10 and 11 for staging construction on the phase two buildout and probably for the 14 story tower on block 16. I haven’t heard much about that garage since it was mentioned in an article in the Columbian newspaper over a year ago.

Things continue to advance, the CCRA will look at the Springs Living 12 story project slated for Block 18 on the waterfront this week. The 6 story full block apartment project from Hurley Development is moving along through the permitting process, and Block 3 is nearing completion on the undergrowth dugout for the 8 story 230 unit project at the waterfront.

It’s all good friends and things are just getting better and better downtown.

Urban Condo Market Squeezed Last Week

There was a rather robust amount of activity in the urban condo market last week with inventory taking a big squeeze and getting much tighter. Units pending and closing were outstripping new listings 10:1. It seems the mad rush to the ‘Couv’ is still very much alive and well as buyers for Vancouver’s mid-rise and high-rise condos were out in force over the last several weeks.

Across all price ranges from mid range to high end, units are getting snapped up. The following developments have no units left for sale in Vancouver’s urban core:

  • Academy Square, Downtown
  • Frontier Block at 500 Broadway, Downtown
  • Parkview at Vancouvercenter, Downtown
  • Shorewood
  • Tidewater Cove

Among the others there is still slim pickings:

  • Viewpoint at Vancouvercenter, Downtown has 1 unit available $979k
  • Heritage Place, Downtown has 1 unit available $309k
  • Meriwether at Columbia Shores has 2 units available, $1M & 1.75M
  • Northwynd at Columbia Shores has 4 units available from $350k to $455k
  • The Village at Columbia Shores has 3 units available from $$321k to $380k
  • Kirkland Tower on the Waterfront has an undisclosed number of units ranging from $910k to $3.3M

So long as our local government doesn’t get stupid, Vancouver’s urban condo market will continue to be solid attracting people from all over the metro area and beyond. Other than Portland, no city in the region has a true urban city center anywhere near the density of Vancouver, nor as well amenitized as Downtown Vancouver and the Waterfront. For those disinterested in the urban living scene, Vancouver also offers a vast variety of SFR neighborhoods from urban classics dating to the 19th century to every decade of post war suburbia from the 1950’s through right now. Vancouver offers something for everyone 🙂

Call Rod today for information on the exciting living opportunities in Vancouver USA!

Kirkland Tower Selling Units

Indigo Hotel & Kirkland Tower April 2021

Kirkland opened the sales office last month and has begun selling units. According to media reports the sales are above expectations for the $150 million combined condo hotel complex on Block 4 at the Waterfront. Although the initial offerings are direct sales if all 40 units are not sold directly it is likely they will be listed. I feel like they will sell them all directly. I am working with one client that is interested in a unit in the tower.

My contact at Kirkland said the least expensive available unit is a 900 SF one bedroom home at $910,000. The Columbia reported the most expensive unit at $3.3 million for a 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath “penthouse” with 3100 SF. That would put the unit at $1065 per square foot. That might be the most expensive per foot cost in the city, although a handful of exotic mansions along Old Evergreen Hwy may be playing in that range as well.

I actually hope Kirkland is successful with this project. I believe that their success will translate into more opportunities for less expensive units in the $400-$600 per foot range. Maybe the future Block 16 tower that features 80 units may be the vehicle to deliver additional ownership opportunity on Vancouver’s fabulous waterfront.

Right now the luxury apartments along the waterfront are fetching rather handsome rents and seem to have little trouble keeping the units leased. There is a substantial number of people earning higher incomes to support the higher rents. This should translate into buyers for condominiums, but some of the units will need to be a bit less ‘plush’ than Kirkland’s units on Block 4.

Local urban condo activity continued at a typical pace. Inventory remains tight but there are enough units to go around. The issue at the Village at Columbia Shores seems to be working itself out as a couple of units returned to market. These are actually nice units along the Columbia Shores waterfront area and prices are much more affordable here than the new Waterfront downtown.

City Center Chugging Along

Things are just ‘chugging’ along in Vancouver’s urban core. About a dozen projects of significant size continue to rise up and several new projects are working their way through approval and permitting. Four tower cranes are up and a fifth should go up soon. It has been a while since Vancouver USA had five active tower cranes, in fact I am not certain we have ever had five. By the time the cranes are erected to support the new Terminal One project and The Springs Living project, I’d imagine that the AC/Hotel and Block Ten cranes will be down already. Five may be the best we can muster for the time being.

Our activity is bringing high paying jobs to the area and helping our city center businesses bounce back from the horrible downturn caused by COVID-19. There seems to be an insatiable demand for luxury housing in Vancouver right now and that spells success for many other projects the city would like to get done that support lower and middle class residents.

Last week I mentioned that a bull rush of new listings flooded the MLS in the last few weeks. The urban condos however have managed to soak them up and many units are still selling quickly. As the leases start to come up on some of those luxury apartment units on the Waterfront, many lessees may be thinking they want to own something rather than rent. There is a broad variety of price ranges available in the city center. Although the newest condo’s downtown are units erected in the mid 2000s, Kirkland Tower will have brand new modern units online in a matter of weeks. A strong successful start at Kirkland will likely lead to a construction start on block 16 for 80 more units or so.

I wish Kirkland the best of luck, their success will lead to more investment by other prominent developers in the region and beyond.

Winds of Change are in the Air

Since the end of last month the local MLS has seen a heavy surge in new listings the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite a while. It seems now that the pandemic is more or less over, sellers are coming forth with a year’s worth of backlog. Oddly the urban condo market is just trotting along as usual thus far.

With this surge of new inventory a little bit of pressure is now off on buyers and sellers may have to be a little more flexible on price or expectations as more choices will allow buyers to be a bit more discerning than they have the past couple years.

Meanwhile here in the urban core, the condo market remains about as tight as it has been for the last year. Northwynd saw a little bit of a spike in listings but the market seems to have absorbed them comfortably. The Village at Columbia Shores remains a bit in limbo with the polybutylene plumbing issue.

Kirkland Tower is on a slow crawl to the finish line but that will be a major economic and viability indicator for the Waterfront. Renting plush $10,000 per month apartments is a strong indicator of economic viability for high end condos. Some units in Riverwest have rented in that range. But Kirkland represents a larger commitment as these will be units selling for prices deep into seven figures. A decision to buy rather than rent is the ultimate expression of local confidence in the neighborhood. I think they will sell fine. 40 units ought to be 80% sold by the end of the year IF the building is done next month.

More development is on the way Downtown and on the Waterfront. Block 18 should break ground early next year on the Springs Living high-rise senior living tower. Meanwhile the Terminal One blocks A and C project should start around the same time. These large projects create good paying jobs and the consistent flow of new proposals bodes well for the urban construction trades over the next few years.

Another Tidewater condo closed well over $1,000,000 recently. I have to wonder how many of these Tidewater exits are headed to Kirkland? We shall see.