Oh, life before 2020. Back then people used to work in communal offices with kombucha on tap, happy to hot desk next to—and sometimes even live with—strangers. We all know what happened next: WeWork, the pioneers of coworking, teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. Then Covid ushered in the work-from-home era.
So what's a commercial real estate developer to do with a brand-spanking-new 36-story project? If you're Seattle's Martin Selig Real Estate, you pull off a pivot to rule all pivots. The gleaming building at 255 Lenora Street in Belltown was originally intended to house nine floors of communal WeWork offices and 23 floors of the company's WeLive co-housing offshoot. That all crashed when the company flamed out.
This spring, after a Covid-induced construction delay, the project launched to the public with a new identity as a luxury 216-unit apartment building, complete with snazzy moniker: The Modern. If its WeWork iteration was built for upstart entrepreneurs and scrappy freelancers, the Modern is for folks who've already made it big.
Studio apartments start at 495 square feet and begin leasing at $2,700 per month. A two-bedroom, two-bath unit with 1,178 square feet? Those start at $7,250 a month.
Architecture firm Perkins and Will, who designed UW's Life Sciences building, incorporated design details that somewhat justify those mind-bending rents. Every unit, even the studios, have floor-to-ceiling windows for ample views of the waterfront, Elliott Bay, or the Space Needle. Kitchens are all quartz counters and top-of-the-line, integrated appliances. Even the bathroom mirrors are illuminated. Perkins and Will somehow managed to stuff high-end finishes into just about every square inch, right down to the wide-plank flooring, smart thermostats, and soft-close drawers.
But Wi-Fi-enabled outlets do not a fancy apartment make, and they certainly don't justify those rents. The main reason for that steep price tag is the amenities. And, in an eerily similar fashion to its WeWork origins, there are a lot of them.
On the Modern's top two floors sits the Conservatory, a communal space with various areas that follow a very specific naming convention: a library (the Loft), a formal event space with a billiards table (the Club Room), a big-screen area (the Video Wall), a bar (the Bar), and clusters of seating for hangouts (the Foyer).
There's a rooftop patio and outdoor terraces, too, where the Modern's director of lifestyle—yes, such a position exists—and team host weekly sunset meditation and yoga sessions. The rooftop is also where the bee farm is; its honey ends up mixed into custom cocktails served at the Bar. (For the record, Chateau Ste. Michelle has an exclusive wine blend on offer too.)
The concierge team at the Modern will even whip up snacks from a special after-hours menu, send a personal bartender to an apartment upon request, and loan a paddleboard or bike from the building's collection. A partnering day care service can even watch kiddos for a spell in the residents-only children's studio. The Modern also has weekly classes available in its tricked-out fitness suite. Needless to say, yes, they also wash cars and do dry-cleaning.
In basic terms, the Modern is Luxurious with a capital L, and it has no qualms flaunting its status as such. Now what could be more modern than that?