Any Link riders through the Valley have no doubt noticed the monolithic Station at Othello Park going up for what seemed like forever. Well, it’s done*, and the Seattle Times wrote it up:
Other developers will judge the Station at Othello Park’s success by how much rent it can charge and how quickly it fills up.
A new project is doing well if it leases 20 apartments a month, researcher Cain says. By that measure, the Station is right on target.
As for apartment rents, Cain says, the Othello project is charging about 40 percent more per square foot than older buildings in the Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill and the Central District — but about 12 percent less than the average rent at similar new buildings on Capitol Hill and other neighborhoods closer to downtown…
But Southeast Seattle is a new frontier for the industry. Before the Station at Othello Park, “that area hadn’t seen any conventional [for-profit] new construction in many years,” Cain says…
“I have heard lots of developers say they are waiting to see how the Station at Othello Park does,” said Al Levine, the [Seattle Housing] authority’s deputy director.
It’s nice to hear that the initial reports are good, but as with everything else let’s not judge the first project of a hoped-for rebirth of the Rainier Valley based on a few months of data.
Because of developer hesitation, this is, however, a relatively important project. And if it turns out that the Rainier Valley is so hopeless for market-rate development than not even light rail can rehabilitate it over the next decade or so, then that would call in question, if not light rail as a whole, then the decision to go through the Rainier Valley in general and especially via MLK in particular.
* The article implies it’s done, but a source tells me the complex is leasing but not quite done with construction.
94 Replies to “New Apartments at Othello”
I’m slightly shocked it’s only 12% less than Capitol Hill. I wouldn’t have thought housing that far out could command such a limited discount over an uber-trendy ‘hood like the Hill.
Well, like it said, it’s 40% more expensive than other buildings in the area.
It’s an uber-trendy building in a low-rent neighborhood.
They are very nice apartments. At the moment they seem out of place, but hopefully they will be successful and we will see other market rate and/or high end development in the area.
I’ve been exploring Columbia City and I really feel like that area is going explode. It’s already a vibrant neighborhood, and with a Link station, I would imagine it will only grow and grow.
Any word on when the developments around Columbia City station will be complete?
It’ll be interesting to see if Harbor’s building in Columbia City has different results. At first glance, anyway, Columbia City seems like a more desirable location than Othello.
“A new project is doing well if it leases 20 apartments a month, researcher Cain says. By that measure, the Station is right on target.”
I find this to be a curious statement. So, it makes no difference how many units a new project has — the target is still “20 apartments a month” being leased? If a project has 350 units and leases 20 per month, that is just as good as a project with only 50 units leasing 20 apartments per month? The first project would take about a year and a half to fill up, whereas the smaller project would take only 2 and a half months to fill up, if both leased 20 units per month.
This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I would think that a larger building with 350 units would expect to lease a lot more units per month than a building with only 50 to 100 units. In Seattle, 350 units is one of the biggest projects outside of downtown, in the past several years.
Any real estate experts here who can explain this?
Aren’t you an expert on everything?
Well, it is true that I know a lot more about this project that you appear to, for example.
Then why are you wasting everyone’s time asking questions on here?
Because there might be someone on here who knows more about real estate than you do.
You couldn’t figure that out on your own?
Don’t feed the troll.
Thanks Norman for an interesting question.
I’m far from an expert on RE but it’s all about Loc/Loc/Loc, supply and demand, price, availability of credit and wow factor.
To take your argument to the ridicules, say it were 10,000 units? Grossly more supply than demand at any price, no matter where it is.
The 20/mo is probably a good number as Cain points out for a project that size.
The only new 50 to 100 unit buildings in Seattle are from non-profits like LIHI or Plymouth.
Obviously not true. You never visit neighborhoods like Queen Anne, huh?
Pretty simple. If you build a 50 story tower on a plot of land, why would you expect it to sell units faster than a 4 unit building on the same plot?
There isn’t magically higher turnover in the rental market just because the building is bigger/smaller.
You want to see slow fill-in, check out those huge sprawling multi-building projects in the suburbs. Years of empty units. The bigger the project the longer the fill-in period.
Leasing out over the period of a year doesn’t seem to make financial sense. 300 empty units is $375,000/mo at an average of $1,250 rent. If they only fill at a rate of 20 units a month they will have foregone $3 million dollars in rent. To make that up in even five years would mean they have to get around $150/mo premium over giving incentives to fill the units. What are the rules on rate increases in Seattle. It seems like a better strategy is to fill the apartments and then start ratcheting up rents until you hit the sweet spot on turnover.
Bernie, when I click your link it sends me back to STB.
“Pretty simple. If you build a 50 story tower on a plot of land, why would you expect it to sell units faster than a 4 unit building on the same plot?”
Because there are more units available in the 50-story tower. The largest number of units per month possible to sell in the 4-unit building is 4. It would be possible to sell dozens of units per month in the 50-story tower.
Let’s try this again:
The Kevlar reinforced walls will go a long way to making professional residents feel safe.
There are Kevlar in the walls, but it is controlled access.
Way to feed the fear machine Bailo – keep consuming lots of local TV news in your “safe” burbclave.
In the mean time, crime is down in the city, up in the suburbs according to this article.
According to my calculations, as of 2008, Kent had a higher rate of violent crimes than Seattle.
I think this is a perfect example of something I have been thinking a lot. It’s not enough to just be a transit advocate, you have to be an advocate for everything that people want, because if an area such as the valley which has great transit service can’t attract people to live, then you can’t get them on transit.
In my mind the two big issues for the valley are safety and schools. Work on those and a lot of other things will start to fall into place.
Isn’t the North end of the Valley, say North of Othello up to i90 considered safe and have decent schools? Going up the east hill in the valley (MT Baker) has extremely expensive homes, which in turn I would imagine there are some decent schools in the area.
Isn’t the North end of the Valley, say North of Othello up to i90 considered safe and have decent schools?
It depends on your definition of “safe” and “decent”, but yes, the further north you go crime and education improve. However, it’s not uncommon for outsiders to overlook the nuances and differences in the Rainier Valley and paint the whole thing as a low-income neighborhood.
When my husband and I were house-hunting back in 2006, we looked at some places in the valley–I wanted to live south so his commute to Eastgate would be less horrific (we were living in Edmonds at the time). We spent a lot of time driving around the neighborhood trying to get a feel for what seemed like a neighborhood where we’d feel safe, and what just felt too sketchy. It took some effort on our part, and our realtor (who was familiar with Edmonds, where we were selling, but not the RV) wasn’t much help. And that was before we had to worry about which schools were “good” and which weren’t (which is SO subjective, IMO). So I can see it being easier, especially for families, to just get a place on Beacon Hill or north of the Ship Canal instead of trying to find just the right neighborhood. Also, at the time we were looking, which was before The Crash, everything in the nicer parts of the RV, and frankly Beacon Hill too, was already too expensive for us. Hence us ending up in Bitter Lake instead.
I’d say “East” is where it’s safer and more middle-class people live. Mount Baker, Seward Park, and Rainier View in particular. Many families there have lived there for decades. They saw the bottom of the valley get unsafe in the 80s — a mile or less from their house — and they modified their behavior accordingly. If their teenage sister worked at the Baskin-Robbins on Rainier, they drover her to work and back. If they were driving down Rainier, they kept their doors locked. But that was all in the 80s and early 90s. Columbia City has since changed from gangland to art walk. A woman alone may still find the area questionable. But if you’re a guy who can reasonably defend himself, or two or more people, it’s no big deal. There’s a remote chance you may get caught in a drive-by shooting, but it’s just as likely you’ll get mugged on Capitol Hill or broken-into in Ballard.
As for schools, the people I know in the Valley all went to private schools. I can’t say what the public-school prospects are, or whether it makes a difference whether you live in the middle of the valley or in the northern or eastern parts.
I looked at the schools. There are private options but the closest public elementary school appears to be Graham Hill. Interesting is that SchoolDigger rates it 741st out of 1004 elementary schools in Washington but the parents give it a 5 star rating. I can tell you that if Cherry Crest ranked 741st parents in my neighborhood would not be happy! But really I don’t see the Station at Othello catering to parents with school age children. I think they are aimed at singles and couples of the demographic, Young Urban Professional.
The Schooldigger ratings seem to be primarily based on test scores. There is a lot of debate about whether that’s the best way to rate schools. According to OSPI, almost 21% of the students at Graham Hill are in the transitional bilingual program, meaning, they’re still learning English. Which means they’re going to have a lot tougher time passing a reading or math test in English. Which explains why Graham Hill would have lower test scores than, say, Thornton Creek, which had only 1 student in its transitional bilingual program. I’m not saying the south end schools are fabulous, I’m just saying ratings based purely on test scores don’t really give you the whole picture.
A lot of families consider the RV because it’s more affordable than most of the rest of the city. Those folks aren’t going to send their kids to private schools, I mean, if you can afford an extra $6000 a year for Catholic school or $15000 a year for any other private school in the city, you can afford a more expensive house in a neighborhood with a good public school. So right there you cut down on the market for the neighborhood.
If it were done according to what “people want” they would have built a light rail line along the old Interurban right of way.
No tunnels; not social engineering.
Just a fast straight through electric train line that would run all day and night and provide fast service through the region, fed by buses running East-West and doing the hill climbing.
Should have taken 5 years, at the standard cost of $35 million a mile like every other city and would have been finished before 2000.
I don’t know what people wanted light rail running down the Interurban corridor and bypassing Southeast Seattle.
The ones I recall, at the community meetings I attended, all wanted it to serve City people too, and not be just a commuter train for the suburbs. “fed by buses running East-West and doing the hill climbing.”?? Yeah, right; east-west on streets for the most part non-existent. If we had good east-west corridors in Southeast Seattle, Metro would’ve put buses on them long ago.
What a hoot!
If people won’t give up the 7 to walk or take a bus to MLK, do you think they’re going to give up the 7 to take a bus over the hill (at Holgate, Spokane, or Albro Place) to meet a train in SODO? That would take twice as long as going directly north to downtown.
At the same time, Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill has several times the population of SODO/Georgetown. That’s why the train is where it is.
Of course there are two ways to improve crime and schools. The hard way is to improve public services, which requires money and tackling vested interests. The easier way is to change the socioeconomic mix, which changes social norms in the neighborhood.
But to do the latter, you have to provide an incentive to start that process, in this case a rail line.
More upscale restaurants, alternative music clubs, and better police protection/containment of crime in the Othello area will go a long way toward facilitating that process.
It’s just an apartment complex. Nothing more. An apartment complex built next to a train track no more validates light rail than an apartment complex built next to a road validates a bus route.
Sam’s got an interesting point because the LINK apartments just opened in West Seattle along the main bus lines to downtown, busy Fauntleroy Way SW, and future RapidRide. They’ve got only .7 parking spaces per unit and are marketing to upscale bus users. So in fact, there is a comparable project to test your analogy! And did I say the one that’s not on Link is called LINK….
Well yes it is just an apartment building but you need to look at it in context. This is the first market rate building built in the valley in decades. That is why it is important.
That’s 85 units right out of the gate for Link. With gross vacancy at 4.3 percent you’d think Othello Partners would be looking having these leased out at a faster rate. But maybe they’ve figured out that with rents on the rise they have it priced right at this rate. One thing with condos is banks are requiring a high percentage of pre-sales before they’ll provide financing. Apartments don’t have that restriction so there’s no incentive to provide “move in” incentive pricing.
“This is the first market rate building built in the valley in decades.”
That is not entirely true.
“One developer alone of the 250 unit Othello Station apartments received $7.9 million in tax breaks.”
The city of Seattle gave The Station at Othello Park $7.9 million in tax breaks. That is why it was built where it is. That plus the city rezoning that lot for a 7-story mixed use building. How many lots along MLK Jr Way are zoned for that?
And, some units in the Station at Othello Park are rent subsidized.
I don’t want to overstate the importance of this project, but one of the stated purposes of the MLK alignment was to encourage market-rate development where none existed. You may or may not have found that valuable or convincing, but it is relevant to one of the system’s central claims.
See my post above. The Station at Othello Park got $7.9 million in tax breaks from the city of Seattle, and does have some rent-subsidized apartments.
Yeah, let’s not put too much pressure on this project. Makes me think of a family who has a child going to college, the first child in the history of the family. This child is expected to become a world-class doctor, or sports hero, and bring in millions of dollars. No pressure!!
In reality, it is JUST a market-rate apartment complex next to the FIRST light rail line in the city. If it fails or succeeds, it should be on the merits of, is it a quality-made complex; do people want to live there; and will people adapt to the neighborhood?
The construction of the building itself is completely finished. But, “phase 2”, or whatever it is called, of the project does not have the interiors finished yet.
If you look at the building from MLK Jr Way, the northern 2/3 that reaches the sidewalk is completed all the way around and renting right now. It is basically a square with a courtyard inside.
Phase 2 is the southern part of the building, much of which does not reach the sidewalk of MLK Jr Way, because there is a property which the owner would not sell. You can see an old dilapidated building on that property. So that part of the project is not a complete square — it is more of an “L” shape. I would estimate that the phase 2 part, of which the interiors are not completed yet, is about half the size of phase 1, which is ready to rent right now.
The party room and workout room are both completed and available, as are the lobby and the courtyard.
The rooftop deck with views of Rainier, wetbar, and BBQ grills is not complete. When my wife and I toured last week we weren’t even allowed on the roof due to the heavy construction. Also the onsite storage in the parking wasn’t complete. A few had doors, but the leasing agent couldn’t even give me a quote. Also the ground floor retail space is not complete. Nor is the Zipcar installed.
Sounds like it is renting very well considering how incomplete it is.
The retail space is ready to be leased, and is for lease right now. It has not been leased yet, but that is not because it is “not complete.”
They won’t do anything more with the retail space until it is leased, because what the interior is like depends on who leases it. A coffee shop has different needs than a drug store, for example. So, whoever leases those spaces will have a lot of say in how they are going to be finished.
The retail space is now for lease. It just hasn’t been leased yet, like most of the apartments.
I imagine you could lease the retail space a year or two ago. It doesn’t mean that it was ready for occupancy.
“The ground floor the building will house businesses with two already signed including Bright Horizons Pre-School, and Chaco Canyon a vegetarian restaurant. One space remains and has interested parties but no paperwork has yet been signed on it.
“The first move in will be at the end of March.”
This is about the Link apartment complex in W. Seattle. It was written in January. In January, 2 of the 3 retail spaces at Link had already been leased, even though the building was not available to be lived in until late March.
Also, at Link, they leased 4 apartment units in the first 3 days leases were available, which was in January, even though nobody could move in until late March.
The lengths you are willing to go for evidence that no one could possibly want to live near light rail are really a thing of wonder, especially among a community of people that almost by definition would like to live near light rail.
This calls for a poll of STB readership! I think it would be interesting to understand the makeup of your readers, their current proximity to various forms of transit, commutes, etc. It would be interesting to us readers but perhaps it would inform your writing as well. Just a thought.
I would like to see evidence of how many of this “community” are renting apartments in The Station at Othello. So, far not one person on this blog has said that they are renting in that building right next to Othello Link light rail station.
Since you brought up the subject, Norman: Where do you live?
Norman, stop being so obtuse. Martin already answered you in the other thread. He and Ben already moved to be near Link.
And as I have already mentioned, my wife and I will likely be leasing an apartment there either in a few weeks if by chance my wife gets this job a friend is trying to hook her up with, or in July when I deploy.
Not everyone wants a luxury place or has the ability to live in a two bedroom flat. Even if some here do, not everyone has leases that just happened to end last month when it opened. Maybe if you offered to cover their early termination fee you could get a few to take you up on the most generous offer.
“I would like to see evidence of how many of this “community” are renting apartments in The Station at Othello. So, far not one person on this blog has said that they are renting in that building right next to Othello Link light rail station.”
Norman, just because I haven’t had a very good laugh yet today, exactly what point are you trying to make?
Matthew: I live in an apartment building on Queen Anne, within walking distance of bus routes. Nowhere near any little trains. And everyone I have ever spoken to who lives on Queen Anne loves living there, as do I.
You could have signed a lease at Station at Othello Park months before you were going to move in. And you should have known over a year ago that it was going to open early this year, so you had plenty of time to arrange to move there, if you really wanted to.
Martin already said he does not live in a multi-family, multi-story mixed-use building. Since this blog normally endorses “density”, I don’t think it would be unfair to ask Martin, Ben, and Matthew this:
What sort of housing do you guys live in?
Norman, once again you are talking about something you know nothing about. The SecDef didn’t sign off on my Detachment’s RFF until last week. Please tell me how I was supposed to know when I was deploying before that? Before that it was going to be last March to the Philippines but that mission got turned over to 5th. Then it was two months of Standbye where I couldn’t leave the city nor get drunk b/c I was on two hour recall for a possible Libya mission. I’m Special Operations so can go anywhere at any time, it’s not like I’m an armored division that takes months and months of planning.
BTW, in case you haven’t picked up on it in the probably dozens of times I’ve mentioned it, I currently live in Fayetteville NC as I am stationed at Ft. Bragg.
I’m going to start calling buses “Little Buses” in salute to Norman’s penchant for saying “Little Trains”.
I for one would like to live near Link, but I work in northeast Seattle and Rainier Valley would just be too long of a commute right now.
Interestingly, my commute from Convention Place is 45-60 minutes (71/72/73 + 30). From Rainier Valley it would be 20 minutes more (Link + 71/72/73 + 30 = 80 minutes). Actually a bit more that. University Link may not help much because of the gap between UW station and Campus Parkway. But when Brooklyn station open my commute will be almost cut in half. (Link + 30 = 8 min + 20 min = 28 min). And from Rainier Valley it would be 48 minutes (Link + 30). In other words, with ST2 my travel time from Rainier Valley would be the same as my travel time currently is from downtown.
So when people say Link has no advantage over buses, yes it does. And the advantage becomes bigger the longer the distance. (Columba City – UW: 26 min, vs 45 min on the 48). Or moreso from Columbia City to Northgate or Roosevelt or Shoreline. Especially for trips that require a bus transfer. But at an even longer distance the advantage begins to reverse, so that downtown-Federal Way and downtown-Tacoma will probably be faster on ST Express than Link (when/if Link reaches there someday). That just shows that Link (or any system) has a minimum and a maximum distance where it has the advantage. But still, Link is flexible in a way that ST Express isn’t. It may be faster to go from downtown to Federal Way on ST Express, but from Columbia City or the U-district or Lynnwood it would still be faster to take Link all the way than to go downtown and transfer to a bus.
If my working future after I graduate is in Seattle, yes, I’d like to live near light rail (or even very frequent buses, like when I stayed in San Francisco).
My parents looked at a townhouse in Rainier Vista and then the economy fell, so we’re stuck here on the Eastside, within walking distance of all-day bus routes.
My ex just moved to the Othello station area (not in the new apartments) and to be honest I’m a bit jealous. I’ve been spending more time there (shared kids) and because of Link and Colombia City I would seriously think of moving there. My biggest concern would be crime and quality of schools. If my kids were grown (or I didn’t have them yet) I might already be there now.
As I said in yesterday’s thread these are luxury apartments which seem a bit out of place, at least right now. My wife and I are looking at buying a place in the area so want to rent for a year first to make sure we like it. The neighborhood has a lot of potential and the new Safeway is really nice. Not a lot of quality retail beside that that I’ve seen. Hopefully The Station will bring some of that.
You mean the one across the street from “The Station?” Sorry, wasn’t impressed with it. What I think is needed as more dense housing units are developed along MLK are medium size food stores in first floor retail spaces. They should have good selection of quality foods (e.g. Organic/direct from Farmers etc.) that people should be able to walk to or walk downstairs.
Well, caty cornered from The Station. What did you not like about it? Fresh Produce, good selection, new building, clean, helpful staff. I’d take it over the Red Apple we had near our place in Newcastle (except for the staff part, but that could have just been b/c I am outgoing and was ‘a regular’ so they all got to know me quickly).
Good comment, Oran, but there’s something else necessary for both good safe neighborhoods and transit alike: a very large number people have to be able to earn a living by honest, productive work who presently can’t. In many cases, for the last three generations.
If my tone has recently gotten sharp with STB staff when discussing labor unions, it’s because in my experience, the large number of people who are deservingly able to earn a decent living- and let me stress, through their own hard work- have no idea what life is like for the larger number of equally-hardworking people who can’t.
I don’t like the term “affordable”. In current usage, it means unearned handouts for the undeserving poor, and everybody knows it. Hence the bristling fur at its mention in connection with housing or medical care. Nobody said “affordable” in the days when a strong industrial economy let young people out of high school get a job paying enough to buy a house and start a family.
If you’re going to be a transit advocate, first and foremost you have to fight politically for an economy where a large majority of the population can earn enough money to be able to afford to live in a nice home in a good neighborhood. Without having to spend an increasing number of years chasing ever-narrowing slots in exponentially more expensive schools to get there.
Won’t say employment without a union can’t provide the above- I’ve just never seen it happen. Transitworkers in other countries have a tradition of forming their own cooperatives, which also works. But if you’re ok with present division of wealth, get used to slashed seats and graffiti.
And equivalent personal damage between home and the station.
I am looking forward to the day when government agencies quit saying “transit dependent” and instead use the term “automobile independent.”
“The plight of the auto-dependent motorist”
Correct me if I’m wrong but if everyone makes more money then everything will just cost more thus we all make the same. Somebody has to be poor otherwise we can’t have rich people. The idea that we could all be making better wages and thus afford to buy a house out of highschool is a bit naive I think.
You’re wrong. Coconut and banana production is the classic econ example I remember from college.
After a little further reading I believe what you propose is the key idea of classical growth theory that leads to the “dismal outcome” (pg 6/25). The basic premise is just wrong; as societies become wealthier the birth rate declines. It makes sense, if you believe each individual has a low chance of success you “hedge your bet” by having lots of children with the hope that one or more will make it. If you’re feeling confident you’re more likely to put all your eggs (or sperm ;-) in one basket. It also ignores the fact that technology reduces the demand for labor making leisure more valuable.
Maybe you didn’t understand what I was referring to. Neither of your links were remotely close to what I was referring to. In a free market economy what is the correct price for a product?
If you’re talking about just changing the value of the currency then yes inflation will reduce the “gains” to where everything is relatively the same. If you fundamentally increase the efficiency of the economy then everybody can afford more goods and services. So I guess it depends on what you mean by “making” more money. Just printing more currency or making a better living because for example a more educated work force will produce more per capita.
On a side note, though still on topic…does anyone know the status of all the parcels along MLK Way that ST still owns? The parcels of property they bought for light rail construction? Do they still own it? I’m thinking about those pieces of vacant land north of the Othello Station next to the shopping center. One side ST used to keep vehicles and the other side they kept the trees there were eventually planted. Are they looking for buyers? Any indication others will be building in the Valley soon?
Thanks, Martin. Somehow I missed this piece.
Great news, and good to hear that occupancy is happening at a pace considered on-target. In the next few years, however, we should be looking as much or even more for young families and couples buying fixer-upper homes for a song, and so-called urban pioneers snagging less luxurious existing units on the cheap. Those usually seem to be the seeds that attract the amenities that make a neighborhood more desirable to this market.
This also highlights the importance of a Graham Street station. Starting a development node out of nothing (relatively speaking) is a task of an entirely different order than merely expanding the growth already happening in Columbia City and elsewhere in the valley. Difficult to extend a corridor, however, when swaths of real estate sit beyond the Link walkshed.
The urban pioneers already bought all the fixer-uppers in the 90s and early 00s. Nowadays even the run-down houses in Rainier Valley are in the $2xx and $3xx. Most of the run-down buildings you see in Rainier Valley are apartment buildings or commercial lots, not the houses.
“You can always tell who the pioneers are because they have arrows in their back and are lying face down in the dirt.”
This statement isn’t directed at anyone here in particular, but just a response to some comments I’ve seen in this and other threads, on other boards, and from my friends and family (in laws) in Seattle.
The Pacific Northwest’s view of ‘high crime’ ‘diverse’ ‘low income’ or any other euphemism for ‘lots of scary black people’ is pretty hilarious to anyone who’s lived outside the area. I am very glad my wife lived for five years in St. Louis and now 2 in Fayetteville so now has a bit of perspective.
Since we are looking at the Rainier Valley and b/c damn near EVERYONE has been trying to get us to move to the Eastside or North of the Ship Canal to a ‘safe’ neighborhood we’ve been spending a good amount of time in the area every time we visit trying to get a feel for it. Even driving around late and night and getting out to walk around at that time. The best was this little elderly white woman, walking her toy dog around at 10 at night (obviously felt very much in danger) we stopped to talk to and ask about the area (New Holly) and she mentioned three or four times ‘Now it’s very DIVERSE’… LOL.
I was just explaining this to a younger colleague today. Many in our protected cocoon in the NW haven’t a clue about living in or near true urban blight or rural poverty.
Interestingly, City of Seattle has a crime map which indicates RV is on the whole is much safer than Downtown, 1st Hill or even the south part of Capital Hill. In fact you’re safer living near Othello Station than Mt. Baker Station.
It should be noted that a map of incidents doesn’t account for the population density of particular areas, so it doesn’t give one a good picture of the likelihood of being a victim of a particular crime in a particular area.
Really? If there is a cluster of violent crime say in White Center, that doesn’t indicate a higher possibility a person who lives or visits that area could be either a direct victim of crime or be a witness or exposed to the effects of such crimes?
That’s like saying because there are 8.4 million people in NYC means you’re chances of being mugged or robbed are pretty low. Well, no, it depends on being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think crime maps are very useful tools to tell you about patterns of problems.
In Chicago, you can see the pattern move as police do their vigilance and push the thugs to the next neighborhood over. Or when a bunch of them have been released from jail.
I think people react to what they see and hear around them. If elk are being hunted from a helicopter the chances of any one individual getting shot may be low but it sure scares the crap out of all of them. People have a herd mentality. If you’re hearing gun shots and there are reports almost nightly of crimes in your neighborhood I don’t think anyone really has a feeling of “safety in numbers”. Also, in a less dense neighborhood people tend to know more about everyone in close proximity which in turn makes it easier to spot something out of the ordinary.
Don’t they also publish crime data by census tract? I remember checking that out when we were looking at places in the south end because my insane mother-in-law insisted we were going to die in a drive-by shooting if we lived on Beacon Hill. Being able to tell her that the crime rate was higher in the Northgate area than it was on Beacon Hill was very satisfying. :)
Your chances of being mugged or robbed in NYC *are* pretty low, in part because your chances of being in the wrong place at the wrong time are themselves low. By comparison, you’re much more likely to be mugged or robbed in, say, Memphis, where there are proportionally more wrong times and wrong places per person.
Violent crime stats should incorporate density because each crime targets a person.
People fear based on their perceptions, which may be at odds with reality. The U-district and many other neighborhoods have much more crime than people believe: the police blotter shows one or two incidents every day. Sometimes the publish them in the Stranger or Weekly and I read about several incidents one block from my house or ten blocks from my house (when I was living at 56th & U-Way), but they never affected me. People think Rainier Valley is more violent because of stereotypes and outdated memories. It could be picture-perfect for two decades and still people wouldn’t set foot in the area, or would write things in the Times like “ride Link through Rainier Valley and you’ll be mugged”.
A couple of years ago I lived for a while a block off 23rd between Cherry and Union. Other than some unsavory characters and a couple of car prowls to my housemates car I never had a problem in the neighborhood or felt unsafe. There were problems including a couple of fatal shootings at the former intersections, however it never spilled onto our street in any way.
FWIW most of the houses on our street were owner occupied and most had recent and rather extensive remodels.
It’s weird how perception is more powerful than reality…I recently bought a condo near Madison and 25th Ave. E, and my grandparents were really worried, no joke they thought it was in the middle of gangland or something. So far, it seems like a super safe, quiet, no weirdos, semi-urban paradise…with lots of transit options.
I think Bernie’s comments are spot on. Perception IS the controlling factor. People quite naturally don’t want to be exposed to violence and crime. They don’t want it around them, and given the opportunity, many people will “flee” from an area they “perceive” to be crime ridden.
One of my earliest experiences after graduating from college and living on my own was watching an apartment complex in West Olympia change over a period of 6 months from a quiet “safe” place to a not well maintained place with numerous troublemakers. I was even threatened at one point. Oh, and there was that incident with a Klu Klux Klan guy setting up a table at the entrance to the complex. Needless to say, I didn’t renew my lease there.
Having my apartment on Queen Anne hill broken into TWICE was enough to sour me on that neighborhood. Apparently there were no “eyes on the street” that saw anything in my enclave of triplexes and apartments on my busy street – in the middle of the day.
The Queen Anne experience taught me that living in a (slightly upper) middle class neighborhood isn’t enough to assure safety (freedom from crime). If I had had access to a crime map, I would have discovered that QA was actually notorious for property crime incidents.
Conversely, having grown up in the North side of Seattle and having a perception of the Rainier Valley as a crime ridden place you don’t want to be, it is ironic that on my return to Seattle, I have landed there (albeit on the edge of Seward Park). But I did my homework and discovered that crime incidents were quite low the past several years. Mostly car prowls and domestic disturbances.
@Steven, statistically speaking you are quite likely correct, but why is it that everyone (well many people0 in NYC is generally “on guard”? Even my cousins have defensive tactics in the event of being mugged. Such as an “escape wallet” e.g. a wallet or moneyclip with lots of singles that can be flung away from you so that they go after the money and you go the other way.
Seeing the hipster (I, unlike many, see that as a positive) revitalization of Georgetown, I do sometimes see a world of “could have beens” for a Link stop somewhere next to Airport Way. That core is itching for some high density, super cool street level retail…and a population that is probably as pro-‘trains are awesome’ as you can get. It could be a cooler, slightly edgier version of the Pearl.
High density means higher height limits. Being in the flight path of planes landing and taking off means lower height limits. Thems da breaks. Being next to a freeway and a small river of active train tracks means less walkshed. As does being right next to the airfield.
A Sounder stop would have been cool, though, if it weren’t too close to downtown to justify it.
Georgetown is not without lots of transit service, however. You’ve got the 60 going on up to Cleveland High and Beacon Hill Station, and over to West Seattle in the other direction. You’ve got the 106 going downtown in one direction and down to Rainier Beach Station in the other. You’ve got the 131 and 134 also going downtown, and then going to other places that only have the 131 and the 134 as routes to go downtown, but having to go way out of their way through Georgetown for a tortuously circuitous ride.
The west end of Georgetown has all these routes, too, plus the 124 down to Tukwila International Boulevard Station, serving the whole Tukwila Boeing corridor, and of course, going downtown.
All this, for a neighborhood that is roughly 20 square blocks.
And don’t get me started on the darned traffic circles in the way of the buses going down Carleton Ave. I take it the geniuses who had those installed don’t actually ride the bus.
If I had my druthers, the 124 would have more frequent service, and Georgetowners would know to walk over to E Marginal Way for that frequent service. It just isn’t that much of a walk. Instead, you have a hodgepodge of routes not providing good headway to downtown, because your neighborhood leaders want all the buses to go out of their way to serve the saloon district. So, residents in the middle of Georgetown have to guess whether they should head west for the 124 or east for the 106, or south/north for the 131/134. Georgetown is an excellent example of an opportunity for line consolidation to cut headway in half.
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