New Seattle high rises costing residents their views



Posted on June 3, 2014 at 7:28 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 3 at 9:11 AM

SEATTLE – Many longtime Seattle residents are finding that their once-spectacular views are disappearing as high rise buildings are constructed downtown.

At the Cosmopolitan Condominiums at 7th Avenue and Virginia Street, new condos going up to the north are in position to block the Space Needle view. And at the Panorama House at Minor Avenue and University Street on First Hill, Helen Jones is seeing the skyline change dramatically since she moved in 20 years ago.

"These buildings are going up in some strange places," said Jones. "When my view of Lake Union disappears, I know the city is gone."

There are more than 170 other companies in the regional market looking for 4.3 million square-feet of space, according to real-estate brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle.

The city of Seattle does have an ordinance that protects views of the Space Needle and Mount Rainier, but only for public spaces.

Realogics Sotheby's International Realty estimates property values range from 10-to-50 percent based on a “city view” to a premium “water view.”

"It's a kind of buyer beware situation," said Realogics owner & CEO Dean Jones,

Jones offers three tips to research your view if you are in the market to buy.

  • Work with an in-city broker that's familiar with zoning, land ownership and market values. Experience in this makes a big difference.
  • Check a zoning map and compare with development applications, which are public record, so you can draw sight lines and explore what impacts there may be even if those are a few blocks away.
  • Choose buildings with view easements or that are adjacent to historic landmarks or at the threshold to down zone areas because the likelihood of adverse development is much less.

"Ultimately, development is an indication of positive things in the city," said Jones.