Oh, life before 2020. Back then, people worked in communal offices with unlimited kombucha, happy to have a shared office next door – and sometimes even to live with-foreigners. We all know what happened next: WeWork, the pioneers of coworking, were on the verge of bankruptcy. Then Covid ushered in the era of working from home.
So what’s a commercial real estate developer to do with a brand new 36-story project? If you’re Martin Selig Real Estate of Seattle, 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 WeWork co-housing offices and 23 floors of the company’s WeLive co-housing offshoot. This all fell apart when the company died out.
This spring, after a Covid-induced construction delay, the project launched to the public with a new identity as a 216-unit luxury apartment building, complete with a catchy moniker: The modern. If its WeWork iteration was designed for fledgling entrepreneurs and scrappy freelancers, the Modern is for people who have already succeeded.
Studios start at 495 square feet and start renting at $2,700 per month. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit with 1,178 square feet? These start at $7,250 per month.
Architecture agency Perkins and Will, which designed the UW Life Sciences Building, has incorporated design details that somewhat justify those mind-blowing rents. Every unit, even the studios, has floor-to-ceiling windows offering stunning views of the waterfront, Elliott Bay, or the Space Needle. The kitchens are all quartz counter tops and high end built-in appliances. Even the bathroom mirrors are illuminated. Perkins and Will have managed to incorporate high-end finishes into just about every square inch, down to the wide-plank flooring, smart thermostats, and soft-closing drawers.
But Wi-Fi-enabled outlets don’t make a luxury apartment, and they certainly don’t justify those rents. The main reason for this high price is the amenities. And, in an eerily similar way to its WeWork origins, there are plenty.
On the top two floors of Modern is the Conservatory, a communal space with various spaces that follow a very specific naming convention: a library (the Loft), a formal event space with a pool table (the Club Room), a large screen (the video wall), a bar (the bar) and seating groups for meeting places (the Foyer).
There’s also a rooftop patio and outdoor terraces, where the Modern’s lifestyle director — yes, such a position exists — and the team hold weekly sunset meditation and yoga sessions. The roof is also where the bee farm is located; its honey ends up being mixed with personalized cocktails served at the Bar. (For the record, Château Ste. Michelle also offers an exclusive wine blend.)
The Modern’s concierge team will even prepare snacks from a special after-hours menu, send a personal bartender to an apartment upon request, and lend a paddle board or bicycle from the building’s collection. A partner daycare can even watch the children for a while in the residents’ children’s studio. The Modern also offers weekly classes in its sophisticated fitness room. Needless to say yes, they also wash cars and do dry cleaning.
Simply put, modern is luxurious with a capital L, and it has no qualms about flaunting its status as such. What could be more modern than that?