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This article first appeared in the PB March 2008 issue of Pro Builder.

Escala is an uncommon product in the local Seattle market place and in most places across the country — an exclusively affluent, large condominium estate building. The homes start at $500,000 and go well above $10 million.

"This floor plan is unique to the market and unique to most condominiums in that the elevator actually opens onto your own private foyer," says Dean Jones, president and CEO at Realogics in Seattle, the marketing firm for Escala. "It's like having your own elevator, as opposed to the typical dormitory approach that a lot of condominiums, even luxurious ones, still take. And it features tremendously large balconies — major terraces that in some cases are as large as the backyard of someone's prior home."

Escala is huge at 275 units, 30 stories but manages to exude the exclusivity of a private estate. Great effort was made to create a sense of elegance, grandeur and entitlement in everything, from the floor plans to marketing tools such as the Web site, which also won gold. Escala also won gold for a buyers' retention promotional event hosted by the operator of a private social club that will be located in the building. The event took place before contract conversions and was effective in closing the deal.

Jones says differentiation and a target market unaffected by subprime lending were two keys to success.

"There wasn't really any value engineering," says Jones. "I would argue that building would never get built again in this current market."

"We're over 25 percent sold with over $80 million in presales," says Jones. "And that's on a partial release of inventory. Our developer is very comfortable where the product sits in the market. We have two years left to build the building."

Project: Escala, Seattle
Builder: LEXAS Companies, Seattle
Architect: Thoryk Architecture/Mulvanny G2 Architecture, San Diego
Ad Agency: Realogics, Seattle
Web site designer: Phinney/Bischoff Design House, Seattle
Number of units: 275
Price range per unit: Mid-$500,000 to more than $11 million
Square footage of unit: 2,500
Photography: Kathryn Barnard, Seattle

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