Housing

The Wall Street Journal asked six experts which 10 cities will emerge as the hottest, hippest destinations for highly mobile, educated workers in their 20s when the U.S. economy gets moving again, and Seattle has tied for the No. 1 spot.

Their panelists—demographers, economists, geographers and authors on urban issues—picked their cities based on the criteria they deem most important, from economic diversity to lifestyle.

Big cities dominate the panelists' forecasts. Where trendy smaller cities might have captivated youth in the past, today's recession-scarred young people are more pragmatic, placing "greater emphasis on where high-quality, high-paying jobs are created," said Ross DeVol, director of regional economics for the nonprofit Milken Institute. Northeastern and West Coast cities are ascendant, eclipsing former Sunbelt favorites such as Atlanta.

Which cities are likely to be the hottest post-economic downturn destinations for young, brilliant, and highly mobile workers? The Wall Street Journal surveyed six trend-spotting experts and they chose cities based on economic diversity, lifestyle and their own personal prejudices.

Here’s the top-10 list:

10/14/2009

There are 88 units completed now at the Greenbridge development in White Center. Commercial space is starting to get leased and residents are moving into apartments.

The King County Housing Authority sent out the following update on the low-to-moderate income housing project.

“Families have finished moving into 88 colorful, energy-efficient new townhomes and apartments in Salmon Creek, the fourth phase of rental construction to be completed at Greenbridge, the 96-acre master-planned community being developed by the King County Housing Authority.

With full occupancy of Salmon Creek, a total of 357 affordable rental units will have opened on the site. Work on another 111 units, aided by federal stimulus dollars under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is currently underway, with completion scheduled for next summer.

The Salmon Creek development is located on two separate parcels: one anchors the east corner of Roxbury Street and Eighth Avenue Southwest, the other sits just north of the White Center Heights Elementary School. Both blocks also host retail spaces. A coffee shop, Dubsea Coffee, is slated to open on the Eighth Avenue plaza in November.

10/09/2009
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Image courtesy the King County Housing Authority

It was one year ago that we experienced Uncle Sam's takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the downfall of Lehman Brothers, the hasty sale of Merrill Lynch - the financial meltdown's most gut-churning period - and now a year later, signs of optimism in the housing market are everywhere.

Existing home sales rose in July for the fourth time in as many months and inventory totals are off their record levels of a year ago. And prices, while still declining, are no longer in free fall.

However, the looming expiration of a popular federal tax credit has some worried that the housing market may give back its recent gains, and the real estate and home building industries are pushing lawmakers to extend the incentive. Here's a look at the impact of the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit, and the political outlook for its extension.

10/02/2009

Port of Seattle officials expressed regret that some members of the homeless encampment known as ‘Nickelsville’ have thus far refused to voluntarily leave port property at Terminal 107 in West Seattle, according to a release from the Port Sept. 30.

The group set up the encampment on port property without permission and has been at the public park illegally for 69 days. The group’s presence violates city land use and shoreline codes as well as prohibitions against camping and lighting fires within the city of Seattle.

In addition, the Port of Seattle does not have the authority to provide land for housing or housing purposes.

Nickelsville organizers and residents have been given multiple warnings that if they did not leave by Sept. 30, they would be subject to arrest for trespassing. Many residents are choosing to leave, seeking help from resources offered throughout the county.

09/30/2009

Housing market optimists picked up another encouraging data point, when a new report on the residential real estate market came in stronger than expected.

The National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index for July was 12 percent above year-earlier levels, hitting its highest point since June 2007.

"The increase reported for pending home sales was the sixth consecutive gain, suggesting firmer figures for existing home sales in the next month or two," economists at Goldman Sachs said in a report.

According to Mike Larson of Weiss Research, the recent pending home sales reports are evidence that the housing market stabilization is undeniable. The housing market is expected to continue to recover over the next year well in 2010, according to economist experts.

Here are things you need to know about the housing market climate:

1. Lower prices, cheap mortgage rates: Even with the unemployment rate sitting at well above 9 percent, the nation's beleaguered housing market is handing would-be buyers some compelling reasons to get off the sidelines.

09/23/2009

The King County Housing Authority (KCHA) has won a national award honoring superior assisted housing and community development programs for the design of the Nia Apartments in White Center.

The 2009 Award of Excellence comes from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), and will be officially presented on Oct. 6 at NAHRO’s National Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C. The KCHA is one of 18 programs nationwide to receive the 2009 award, out of an original pool of 212 merit winners.

Nia Apartments were designed with the White Center area's older, diverse community in mind, according to a release from the NAHRO.

It offers easier access to services and friends, as well as simple living. Sixty-four of the development's units are for seniors, and 17 are for younger disabled individuals. It is built into a hillside, offering increased street presence, retail space and a lower-level lobby, and thus creating a more active urban streetscape.

The mixed-use community offers 40 units with public housing subsidies, and 41 units with project-based Section 8 subsidies.

09/22/2009
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Courtesy King County Housing Authority

Greenbridge's Nia Apartments, 9935 Eighth Ave. S.W.,have won a national design award from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.

Once again, Seattle made Forbes' top 10 list, this time for the best cities to earn a living category.

The best cities to earn a living are those that have plenty of companies doing business in high-paying, growth industries. Combine that with a high-quality business environment, job growth, and a low cost of living and you get a select few locations where the paycheck is generous and the cost of necessities like food and housing is modest.

Here are the top 10 cities Forbes magazine says is the economic reality now and the conditions are likely to get even better as healthcare, technology, and energy draw more employees:

1. Dallas, Texas

2. Houston, Texas

3. Minneapolis, Minn.

4. Austin, Texas

5. Washington, D.C.

6. St. Louis, Mo.

7. Seattle, Wash.

8. Atlanta, Ga.

9. Kansas City, Mo.

10. Denver, Colo.

A list dominated by eastern and southwestern metros, makes Seattle with $32,836 median income the only West Coast city to make the list. One of Seattle’s primary industries, healthcare, accounts for 96,000 local jobs and $10 billion a year.

09/16/2009
Development still a few years away

The future Compass Center site at 1753 N.W. 56th Street, which has been a dirt lot since a vacant house was torn down in June, will be planted over with grass in the near future.

"It will look a little more like a meadow," Compass Center Program Director M.J. Kiser said at the Sept. 9 Ballard District Council meeting.

In June, Compass Center Executive Director Rick Friedhoff said grass would be planted at the site as part of the demolition of the vacant structure. The lot was touted as the neighborhood's newest open space.

As of Sept. 10, the lot was still vacant dirt.

Kiser said the grass hasn't been planted yet because they missed the planting season, but now that the rain has returned, grass will be planted.

The Compass Center, a low-income housing provider, is a few years away from building the Ballard development, Kiser said. The Center owns the property, but she said they are in the process of raising funds to build the project.

The site will become a seven-story, 80-unit development to provide permanent housing for homeless men and women, Kiser said.

09/10/2009
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Michael Harthorne

According to program director for the Compass Center, this vacant lot on Northwest 56th Street will be planted over with grass in the near future.

Currently, the tax-credit statute requires buyers to fully close on their purchases no later than Nov. 30. The whole process of negotiating offers, signing sales contracts, applying for a loan and completing the closing can easily extend for two months or more.

Given the rapidly approaching deadline, what's the likelihood that Congress will allow at least a little extra time? Will the tax credit be extended for another six to 12 months, continuing to stimulate the housing market recovery and economy?

This year, the two biggest housing trade groups: the 1.2 million-member National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders, are spending the month mounting unusually intense grass-roots lobbying campaigns to make the case for extending the credit, and maybe even expanding it.

According to economists at the National Association of Realtors, anywhere from 300,000 to 350,000 additional sales of houses nationwide will be stimulated this year by the credit. Each home sale generates approximately $63,000 in downstream ripple effects elsewhere in the economy.

09/08/2009

Archbishop Alex J. Brunett of Seattle will bless Santa Teresita del Niño Jesús, permanent housing for families transitioning from homelessness, on Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 2 p.m.

Church and community leaders are scheduled to participate. The site is located at 2427 S.W. Holden St., in the Delridge neighborhood of West Seattle. A reception will follow. 

In addition to Archbishop Brunett, speakers at the blessing will be: Tobias W. Washington, Jr., president of Homestead Capital; Adrienne Quinn, director of the City of Seattle Office of Housing; David Wertheimer, senior program officer, Pacific Northwest, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and Evelyn Gomez-Ortiz, a resident of Santa Teresita del Niño Jesús. 

The Archdiocesan Housing Authority (AHA) is the developer of the site, and manages it. The housing is fully occupied. 

Santa Teresita provides 26 two- and three-bedroom units in four buildings. Two of the units are reserved for persons with physical disabilities, and six are reserved for large households. Also on site are two offices for residents to meet privately with counselors and case managers.

09/04/2009