Chosen by Dr. Stan Humphries, chief economist of Zillow
While Sammamish is technically a suburb, developers are planning to create a city center by placing a town hall, retail, and small-unit homes around a European-inspired centralized plaza to make it a walkable neighborhood void of those impersonal suburban strip malls. By welcoming people who are unwilling to trade commuting time for home price, this midrange to upper-end neighborhood already known for its good schools and easy access to 520 and I-90 is set to become a community perfect for the stroller brigade. “People are looking for that communal sense of neighborhood,” Humphries says, “and Sammamish is creating what people will want in the future.”
Chosen by Glenn Kelman, president of Redfin
The Central District is the Little Neighborhood That Could. “Two or three years ago, it had a shot at the title for Seattle’s hot new spot, as artists and gay men gentrified the area,” says Kelman. The CD lost its footing when the real estate bubble burst, but people are beginning to eye the southern edge of Capitol Hill once more. It’s a natural option for young families who want a bigger house and a bigger yard without having to sacrifice access to nightlife, and its proximity to I-5, I-90, and downtown Seattle make this an up-and-comer worth betting on. As soon as the school system improves, nothing will stop the flow of transplants into this ultraconvenient nabe.
South Lake Union
Chosen by Christopher Tanaka, broker at John L. Scott
For a city to thrive, it needs a dense epicenter with an eclectic and vibrant population. Thanks to Amazon’s recent relocation to South Lake Union, the neighborhood—already an enclave of young professionals—will draw many of the web goliath’s creative task force, spurring development of even more condos and restaurants. As the area fills up, the younger demographic may spill over into Belltown and Capitol Hill, but SLU will remain the focal point for change. “For the most part, you’re going to see families and executives try to stay in SLU,” Tanaka says. “It’s going to be pretty dense down there.”
Chosen by Matthew Gardner, economist of real estate advisory firm Gardner Economics
Artists helped revitalize Columbia City—now home to a flourishing retail scene reminiscent of an early Ballard—and the light rail has cut commute times from downtown to this South Seattle neighborhood. “Mass transit, which has been woefully inadequate in the past, is improving dramatically,” Gardner says. “This will give young professionals and older people wanting to downsize access to downtown.” Already treated to perks like enticing bakeries, trendy restaurants, and the indie music venue Columbia City Theater, residents have it all (including proximity to Seward Park, Genesee Park, and Rainier Playfield) without having to pay the prices commanded in nearby nabes like Beacon Hill, Seward Park, and Mount Baker.
Chosen by Jennifer Nelson, broker at Windermere Real Estate
Hillman City—Columbia City’s under-the-radar little brother—is guaranteed to profit as its grown-up sibling’s success begins to spill over. Restaurants and shops are popping up in the diverse neighborhood where the Night Out in Hillman City block party attracts residents from dozens of ethnicities. Seward Park, Genesee Park, and Lake Washington fulfill an outdoor lover’s needs. “You can launch your boat and be cruising around Lake Washington in 20 minutes, easy,” Nelson says. And there are more owners than renters, solidifying the community and making it a first-time buyer’s dream.