Monday, March 29, 2010
Please Don't Call It Alex
It's the Volta now! You know, I've spend a fair amount of time documenting various construction/renovation projects around this neighborhood, but the Volta at 1st & Bell has escaped my notice. Why? Well, probably because it's been in stasis for the better part of a year. It has just been sitting there with a scaffold around it with no activity at all. Even before that, progress was very slow. I learned to ignore it. It was begun in June 2007 and slated for completion in Fall 2008. Yeah, financial crisis Fall 2008. That didn't work out so well. But here it is, almost three years after ground was broken and it's still not done. Yes, it has a new name (in honor of Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electric battery - I kid you not), and its intent has changed by moving down a few rungs on the luxury ladder.
Here are some more photos:
As you can see, now that the scaffold is off, it's a decent looking building, though I'm thinking that its neighbors at the Apex (Apex + Alex = get it??) would dispute that. The new building came in and completely blocked the view to the outside world that many of the Apex's units had. Now they look at a wall. But nevertheless, it's not a horribly ugly building whatsoever. Its design is along the lines of the neo-retro deconstructed style that is quite popular today. My issue with the Volta is that even before the financial crisis, it wasn't practical or unnecessary. It's too small (just 34 units on eight levels) and its location is not great. Those facing west get a sweeping view of the viaduct and those looking east will see, uh, Belltown. And it can all be yours for $300,000 to $1,100,000. This is a substantial reduction from the original asking prices of $500,000 to $2,000,000+. Because of the price cut, new residents can expect what they're euphemistically calling "more standardized finishes" - meaning that everything's cheaper: countertops, appliances, fixtures, etc. Even though it's more affordable, it doesn't mean that it should have ever come into being. It was originally supposed to be embody ultra-luxury. Well, so much for that. Today, it's just a mini-condo building with a dubious future. To me, the name change spells trouble. No matter what it's called, things will be tough. I hate to say it, but I think things would have been much better for many people if they'd just left the property as a parking lot. But let's wish them luck.