A close-in Seattle neighborhood is undergoing dramatic change as a variety of new and old homes attract younger buyers who like the location and amenities.
Oh, the tales they can tell about the old days in the neighborhood.
There was that Christmas Eve when Jenny Peterson and her partner discovered a man, intent on breaking into their home, spread-eagled against the glass window of their back porch.
“Don’t shoot!” he cried before tumbling into a rose bush below.
Those were the days when erratic redevelopment efforts and construction of the second I-90 bridge left the neighborhood looking like a war zone. Abandoned housing. Dirt piles as big as a house. A main thoroughfare — 23rd Avenue South — closed to traffic.
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Today the neighborhood is rapidly becoming a trendy locale for youthful homebuyers who appreciate its proximity to light rail, downtown Seattle and the Eastside as well as amenities like extensive bike trails and parks — even a dog park.
“The location can’t be beat,” says Redfin real-estate agent Allie Howard. She says the neighborhood’s prices appeal to homebuyers who may prefer Capitol Hill or Columbia City, but can’t afford those areas.
And the Atlantic neighborhood has an enviable system of green belts and trails that let residents bike or walk to Lake Washington in minutes.
The Atlantic neighborhood is considered “very walkable” and got a rating of 73 (out of 100) from Walk Score, a Seattle-based company that provides automated walkability ratings.
As far as housing stock goes, there’s something for most everyone — new homes and condos, renovated vintage homes, fixer-uppers.
“It’s totally a buyer’s market,” says Windermere Real Estate agent Kenny Pleasant, who grew up in the neighborhood in the 1990s.
The Atlantic neighborhood (which has also been referred to as Yesler/Atlantic and Judkins Park) started to look promising about a decade ago, about the time she moved in, says Casey Smith, managing broker of Windermere’s Capitol Hill office.
She had found a nice, new town house at a good price. So after analyzing the situation closely, she bought the town house — to the consternation of her entire family.
Then, a couple of years later, two of her daughters bought town houses in the same neighborhood. They now live two blocks from their mother.
The median value of all single-family houses in the neighborhood, not just those recently sold, was $284,200 in February, down 2.2 percent year-over-year, according to the Zillow Home Value Index. The median value of all condos was $241,600, down 2.9 percent over the past year, according to Zillow.
The median rent for houses in the neighborhood was $1,674 in February, up 8.2 percent year-over-year, while for apartments it was $1,521, up 3.2 percent over the past year, according to the Zillow Rent Index.
Despite the newfound feeling of stability, however, it remains a neighborhood in transition.
“It’s still a service community,” says Pinkey Warner, who owns Pinkey’s Style Crafters, a beauty salon at the six-corner intersection of Rainier Avenue South, 23rd Avenue South and South Hill Street.
The area has a number of social-services agencies that attract a steady stream of clients — those struggling with homelessness, with addictions, with blindness, with broken homes and poverty. Some are clients, like the foster kids with vouchers for haircuts at Pinkey’s.
From the wide windows fronting her salon, Warner and her staff see a bustling world with plenty of opportunities to lend a hand. And they do, running out the door to help a blind man who can’t find his way or an elderly pedestrian whose grocery bag has burst.
In a more-tranquil section of the neighborhood, members of the Japanese Presbyterian Church are working to reach out to their neighbors.
The church is making its presence felt with neighborhood block parties, barbecues, Easter egg hunts and movies for the kids. While the events don’t attract the neighborhood’s longtime residents, they are popular among newcomers like Steven Dangerfield.
A photographer who moved to the U.S. from Scotland when his wife was recruited by Nordstrom, Dangerfield marvels at the area’s international flavor — Japanese and Eritrean restaurants, an Italian bakery and neighbors hailing from all corners of the world. The couple enjoy unleashing their English boxer in the dog park and taking strolls to Lake Washington.
And last year, they attended the church’s block party, where they met neighbors and church members.
“I like meeting people from different walks of life, different backgrounds,” says Dangerfield.