October 4, 2008
Update Oct. 20, 2008: The auction was yesterday. Matt at Urbnlivn reports that 14 of the 17 units sold, while 3 were held back. No word on prices yet.
Update Oct. 21, 2008: According to the Daily Journal of Commerce, the auction brought in $3 million for 14 units, (subscription required) or an average of about $214,000 per unit. No further details were provided, though public records will probably reflect the sales in a few weeks. Five of the remaining units are being offered in a silent auction that ends Friday, October 24.

My friend Andrea and her dog Nema found a great studio earlier this year in a building at 1707 Boylston Avenue on Capitol Hill. Just weeks into her 12-month lease, she was informed that her building would be converted to condominiums. To make a long story short, Andrea had to move to a different building and absorb a 20% jump in rent from a landlord who would only offer a 6-month lease.

Condo developers can make even numbers pretentious. Seattle already had Three19 and Fifteen Twenty-One, so Andrea's old building was rechristened "Seventeen07." The developers put on a fresh coat of paint, replaced the appliances with new brand-name models, replaced the fixtures in the bathrooms, and put in brand-new "renewable" floors made of cork (it's not cheap; it's renewable). The basement has a small rec room consisting of a "yoga studio" (a medium-sized mat), two exercise machines, a couch, and two flat-screen TVs positioned such that it's pretty difficult to see either one from any comfortable position. (The couch is too close to its TV and the exercise machines actually face away from their TV.) There's also no wall between the two areas so those wanting to play Wii games on the couch will have to deal with the noise of the exercise bike behind them. The whole thing seems like the pretentious marketers ran out of money partway through equipping the place with "amenities."

Only a few units at Seventeen07 sold at their original asking prices, so the developers switched from a glossy prestige marketing strategy to a desperate close-out marketing strategy. Sixteen of the 36 units are now being auctioned off with prices starting at about half of the original asking prices. The most telling change, though, is the signage. No longer are units priced "from $179,950's." Now a bold, larger sign intones, "Minimum Bids from $95,000."

March 29, 2008 October 4, 2008
Promotional sign then Promotional sign now