Luxury condo dream shattered in Seattle

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities



Does a day go by without a report of a defect in a condo or homeowners association? I cannot remember the last day I did not read or hear about at least one defect-related accident or lawsuit.

And what amazes me most is that problems plague Association Governed real estate all over the country and the world, from modest affordable townhouse or low-rise condo units to high-end luxury penthouse condos.

Take, for example, 1521 2nd Street Condo, in the heart of Seattle, (KOMO TV video), where 2 window panes spontaneously fell 30 stories to the ground, shattering into a million pieces.

Window pane falls 300 feet from downtown Seattle high-rise

Condos in the 38-story tower start at $1.5 million and can sell for several million dollars. Each unit has glass exterior walls that create panoramic views of Seattle harbor.

The spontaneous falling glass wall incident is eerily similar to scores of spontaneous window failures reported in Toronto. Check out this long list of reports of glass panes falling out of condos in the National Post.

In fact, in 2011 David House, interviewed by CBC News, called these gleaming glass wall towers Throw Away Condos.

One developer calls glass-walled condos “throw-away buildings” because of their short lifespan relative to buildings with walls made of concrete or brick.

“We believe that somewhere between, say, five and 15 [years], many, many of those units will fail,” said David House of Earth Development, which bills itself as a socially responsible property developer. House, who also has experience in the standard development industry, spoke to CBC as part of a special three-part series on the issue that starts Monday at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on CBC News Toronto.

(You can read more about it here:


It seems the luxury glass-wall condo in Seattle is beginning to show signs of failure right on schedule. 1521 2nd Street Condo is not even a decade old. Here’s a news release from 2009, when the gleaming tower was brand new.


Of course, as more of these window panes shatter, there goes the value of 1521 2nd Street and countless other towers of similar construction. Even for multi-millionaires, rebuilding the exterior of these glass behemoths is shockingly high and cost prohibitive.

But then again, to most of these buyers, a luxury condo is just another investment commodity. It’s not really home.


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