A new condominium community in an up-and-coming neighborhood offers Seattle’s chic-est their new urban Shangri-La.

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SEATTLE — The rapid growth and development of Seattle — including new condominium high-rises, major corporation headquarters, and a wealth of metropolitan amenities — has been characterized by many as the “Manhattanization” of Seattle. Geographically similar, the two opposite-coastal cities are increasing in likeness as Seattle continues to be the fastest-growing large city in America.

But the stretch of urban sprawl from downtown to South Lake Union isn’t where the parallelism ends. Consumers in both cities seek differentiation from the “condo-commodity” and authentic neighborhoods that are reborn. The intersection of historic Pioneer Square, the Stadium District, and the soon-to-be-expanded new waterfront is quickly becoming Seattle’s own version of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg. Brimming with boutique shops, independent art galleries, record stores, and historic and industrial charm, Pioneer Square delivers an urban cool that’s indistinguishable from Manhattan’s beloved, trendy neighbor.

A shining example of this hip-but-heightened aesthetic is the new Gridiron Condominiums, a modern development built from a historic foundation that’s both high-end and of-the-moment.

The 107 residences at Gridiron are sheathed in glass but erected from the 115-year-old Johnson Plumbing building — with the result being a perfect marriage of rustic charm and bijou modernism. The homes are positioned next to the vibrant Stadium District, which hosts sporting events, concerts and art fairs; Pioneer Square, a hotbed of culture that summates to much more than just its quaint visual appeal; and the new waterfront, a planned expansion that will flood the waterside with new amenities and attractions.

“This is Seattle’s most nostalgic community, and it’s experiencing an urban renaissance with adaptive reuse development drawing upon one of the greatest collections of historic buildings in the U.S.,” says Moira Holley, a top-producing broker in downtown Seattle with an office in the district for more than a decade. “The marriage of old and new is phenomenal.”

Pioneer Square is brimming with independent art galleries, boutique shops, and historic and industrial charm.
Pioneer Square is brimming with independent art galleries, boutique shops, and historic and industrial charm.

Just as New York had to repurpose its vacant warehouse districts to supply the growing demand for new residences, so has Seattle followed suit. By incorporating and preserving the original aesthetic of the Johnson Plumbing building into this new development, Gridiron is able to occupy Seattle’s first neighborhood without disrupting it — and rather allow this landmark area to effortlessly flow through it.

Julia Nagele, Principal Director of Design and Architecture at Hewitt, says she went to great lengths to simultaneously progress and preserve the structure that is now Gridiron.

“Something Hewitt and I were excited to do with Gridiron is being able to take that warehouse building and maintain the character of it while expanding it,” she says. “I nickname these building-in-a-building projects Russian nesting dolls.”

In a recent interview, former Seattle mayor Charles Royer described Pioneer Square as “the hottest neighborhood in town,” while elaborating that the next generation of homebuyers prefers the older buildings of this storied city. Royer likened Gridiron’s aesthetic to the famous sentiment of Jane Jacobs: the new economy needs the old buildings.

Gridiron’s central location — moments from all of Seattle’s major destinations and work hubs — combined with its urban-chic allure has inspired young professionals, creatives and trendsetters to make their move to attainable homeownership.

And now seems to be the opportune time, according to Dean Jones, President and CEO of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty.

“In the midst of rising demand, Gridiron has just released homes at all-new competitive pricing, ranging from $499,900 to $999,900, for immediate occupancy,” he says. “These new homes are being offered below replacement value despite today’s mounting construction costs. And in terms of investment, Gridiron will benefit as the Alaskan Way Viaduct comes down and the new expanded waterfront comes in. There is absolutely no other opportunity like this.”

Jones adds that for those who act soon, a $25,000 buyer bonus is being offered on new home sales to be used towards closing costs, buying down the interest rate, or other personalization options like home-automation systems.