How you feeling, Seattle? Because in case you’ve forgotten, we just skidded past the greatest economic recession in a generation. And for the first time since the doomful days of 2007—when both housing prices and your sense of economic security sunk faster than Bush II’s approval ratings—we can say with absolute confidence that the local real estate market is back. (“Seattle overall, as a metro and a city, is doing quite well,” is how one economist recently put it to us.) And nowhere is that more true than in the following neighborhoods, where prices have nearly returned to their pre-2007 peak, new businesses are popping up, and the energy on the sidewalks is palpable. Join us, along with residents, real estate agents, and an economist, for a guided tour of the hottest neighborhoods in the metropolitan area and see why they’re all about to get even better.


Vital stats on 138 neighborhoods in and around Seattle


  

Ballard
Total population 10,589
Walkability score 94

“As with everywhere else in the city, Ballard’s a seller’s market. A home that goes on the market today will be gone in two weeks, with dueling offers rolling in within a few days.”
—Kevin Lisota, Findwell real estate brokerage

Sign its value is on the rise
A tiny, 650-square-foot, 1944 Craftsman at 2621 Northwest 57th Street recently spent only five days on the market, and, after a bidding war, sold for $20,000 more than the asking price of $215,000.

New in the neighborhood In late March, food-truck evangelist turned brick-and-mortar devotee Joshua Henderson announced plans to open a second Skillet Diner location this summer at 2034 Northwest 56th Street.

Formerly known as The raw end of a deal after, as legend has it, one Captain William Rankin Ballard lost a coin toss to a business partner in the 1880s and ended up with 160 acres of “undesirable” land, which today we recognize by his last name.

If you only have one hour Ballard Locks (3015 54th St NW, seattle.gov/tour/locks.htm), where sockeye as big as eight pounds and 30 inches long jump up 21 steps to return to their native spawning grounds, and some 60,000 boats a year squeeze through to return to their native recreational grounds of Lake Union and Lake Washington.


 

Capitol Hill
Total population 31,621
Walkability score 91

“Before the recession, everywhere you turned there was an apartment building that was about to be built, or potentially a condo building that was supposed to be built. Now that the market is back, those buildings are being built but they’re all apartments. There is a huge shortage of available condos for purchase right now. And that is driving prices way, way up.” —Kim Colaprete, Team Diva Real Estate

Formerly known as For most of the early 1900s, nearly all the city’s car dealers and other automobile-related businesses were crowded around the intersections of Pike, Pine, and Broadway, earning the area the alias Auto Row.

Sign its value is on the rise A three-bedroom townhome at 1521 18th Avenue sold for $495,000 in just six days.

Median condo price $271,500

New in the neighborhood Speckled and Drake (1355 E Olive Way), a narrow, mezzanine-enhanced beer and cocktail lounge, opened last winter.

If you have only one hour You’ll barely scratch the surface of Seattle’s vital urban neighborhood.


 

Madrona
Total population 5,196
Walkability score 75

“Of all the neighborhoods, Madrona’s one of the closest to returning to peak prices. It will be back at its peak level, achieved in May 2007, in a year. That’s partly attributable to its beauty: Close to Lake Washington, but south of the more expensive Madison Park, and close to the city.” —Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow

Sign its value is on the rise A three-story, turn-of-the-century home at 626 36th Avenue overlooking Lake Washington sold for $1 million after just 12 days on the market.

Formerly known as The Black Panthers local headquarters in the late 1960s; the group practiced drills at Madrona Playfield at East Spring Street and 34th Avenue.

If you only have an hour Walk the gauntlet of boutique shops on 34th, notably Hitchcock (1406 34th Ave, hitchcockmadrona.com) and Glassybaby (3406 E Union St, glassybaby.com), and just try—in vain—to get through without opening your wallet.

New in the neighborhood Restaurant Bea (1423 34th Ave, restaurantbea.com), which traffics in Northwest comfort food, opened last year.


  

Pioneer Square
Total population 2,276
Nonwhite residents 39.4 percent
Walkability score 86

“When my husband and I first moved here, people thought we were crazy. Even I had a bizarre perception of what it was—unsafe, rundown—but my perception changed the more I got involved in the community. These days we’re excited about the new stadium coming in to the south and the new energy restaurateur Matt Dillon has brought to the neighborhood. We’d like to see more residents move in, though. The more people invested here during the nonbusiness hours, the better it’s going to be for the neighborhood.” —Jen Kelly, four-year Pioneer Square resident and author of The New Pioneer Square blog

New in the neighborhood Bar Sajor (323 Occidental Ave S, barsajor.com), Matt Dillon’s new lunch and dinner spot, opened in February. 

Sign its value is on the rise About 80 tech firms, most of them startups, have moved into Pioneer Square.

If you only have an hour Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park commemorates the 1897 Gold Rush (319 Second Ave S, nps.gov/klse)


 

South Lake Union
Total population 1,510
Walkability score 97

“The neighborhood has undergone tremendous transformation in the past few years, initially with
commercial development, mainly the Amazon and Vulcan build out. And what followed suit was high-rise residential, and retail came with it…. Suddenly we have a lot more housing units per square mile in that area, which then attracts retail establishments and we’re really seeing that play out in spades.” —Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow

New in the neighborhood Shanik (500 Terry Ave N, shanikrestaurant.com), run by the wife of the eponymous owner of Vij’s in Vancouver, opened in December 2012 (reviewed here).

Formerly known as Site of settler David Denny’s logging venture, Western Mill Co., in the late 1800s

If you only have an hour Museum of History and Industry (860 Terry Ave N, mohai.org), reopened in the Naval Reserve Armory overlooking Lake Union, features collections previously not on display and interactive exhibits.


 

Queen Anne
Total population 35,448
Walkability score 81

“For those who are looking for more of an entry-level home in the city of Seattle, Lower Queen Anne is definitely the spot, where the median home price is $366,500.”
—Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow

Sign its value is on the rise A two-story Dutch Colonial Queen Anne hill topper at 2146 Fourth Ave West sold within four days, luring six bidders who drove the price from $675,000 up to $727,000.

Formerly known as Early white settlers called the open space at the bottom of the hill—where Seattle Center sits today—Potlatch Meadows because, according to historylink.org, they erroneously believed Native Americans threw ceremonial parties there.

If you only have one hour Chihuly Garden and Glass (305 Harrison St, Seattle Center, chihulygardenandglass.com), a temple of molten glass frozen in time and Technicolor clamshells created by arguably the most famous living artist in the Northwest

New in the neighborhood Tin Lizzie Lounge (600 Queen Anne Ave N; marqueen.com), inside the MarQueen Hotel, is a block from SIFF Cinema Uptown, making it the perfect perch from which to debate plot after the movie.


  

Kirkland
Total population 87,105
Walkability score 59

“Kirkland’s a popular market because it’s pretty, generally situated on hills, and has beautiful views of the city and Lake Washington. And it has a gorgeous downtown. Having had their dip during the recession, homes there are still quite affordable relative to what people’s memory may have been when they last looked at homes—pre-recession. Anyone who hasn’t looked at Kirkland in the last five years is going to find homes to be about 20 percent cheaper than they remember.” —Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow

Its value is on the rise Home values are expected to go up 8.2 percent within the next 12 months.

If you only have an hour Explore the wetland trails of Juanita Beach Park (9703 NE Juanita Dr, kirklandwa.gov/depart/parks).

New in the neighborhood Volterra (121 Kirkland Ave, volterrarestaurant.com), Ballard’s Italian mainstay, opened a second location on the Eastside in September 2012.

Formerly known as The brainchild of one Peter Kirk, who in the 1880s thought a town on the shore of Lake Washington was the perfect complement to his new iron mill


  

West Seattle
Total population 79,178
Walkability score 65

“West Seattle is so big, with both high-end (Alki and Admiral) and lower-end areas (North and South Delridge). But interestingly it’s the lower-priced areas where we’re seeing the most price appreciation. North and South Delridge are appreciating at 16 and 14 percent year to year right now. And Alki and Admiral are appreciating at a slower 12 and 11 percent.”
—Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow

New in the neighborhood Marination Ma Kai (1660 Harbor Ave SW, marinationmobile.com/ma-kai), the second fixed location for the Korean and Hawaiian food truck, opened in October 2012.

Formerly known as The first encampment of European-American settlers in the area, who landed at Alki in 1851

If you only have an hour Tour Alki Beach by bike via Wheel Fun Rentals (2530 Alki Ave SW, wheelfunrentals.com).

Sign its value is on the rise A 1956 rambler at 4500 53rd Avenue Southwest became a fight among seven bidders and sold for $679,000, almost $80,000 over the listing price.


 

Beacon Hill
Total population 35,298
Nonwhite residents 77.6 percent
Walkability score 62

“I’m originally from Denver and I’m one of those people who got to Seattle and said, ‘Where are all the black people?’ Well, they’re on Beacon Hill. And there’s so many other racial groups, and we all share a very strong sense of community together. I love it. We also have a ‘festival street’—the Roberto Maestas Festival Street, right next to the light rail station—that we can close for any reason, including Beacon Rocks, a music event held once a month in the summer.” —Karin Bergsten-Buret, eight-year Beacon Hill resident 

New in the neighborhood Tippe and Drague Alehouse (3315 Beacon Ave S, tippeanddrague.com), which pulls 16 locally crafted beers, opened in summer 2012.

Sign its value is on the rise A two-bedroom home at 1546 19th Avenue South sold within one day for $10,000 above the $219,000 asking price.

If you only have an hour Jefferson Park (3801 Beacon Ave S, seattle.gov/parks) is a 45-acre playground that includes a skate park, a golf course, and eyeshots of the frosty Olympic Mountains. 

 

Vital stats on 138 neighborhoods in and around Seattle


Published: May 2013