The Vintage Y – Home in Tacoma’s Theater District


One of the things I love most about selling real estate in downtown Tacoma is introducing clients to the different condominium buildings there – some shiny and new and others tastefully restored.  The Vintage Y at 714 Market Street falls into the tastefully restored category.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building was designed by prominent local architect George Bullard and built in 1909 to house the Tacoma chapter of the YMCA.  As one of the first chapters in the Pacific Northwest, the Y provided its members with athletic facilities and a robust vocational education program. The YMCA vacated the building on Market Street in 1977, and it was ultimately converted into luxury condominiums dubbed the Vintage Y in 2005. Building amenities include a secure lobby and parking garage, a roof-top deck with barbecue, an outdoor patio, a fitness room and a guest suite.


The Vintage Y is located in the heart of Tacoma's historic theater district.  Nearby venues include the Pantages, the Rialto, Theater on the Square and the Tacoma Armory (all managed by the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts) Upcoming Broadway Center events include the Heritage Blues Orchestra at the Rialto, Spectrum Dance Theater at the Armory and The Capitol Steps at the Pantages.  The theater district is also home to the Grand Cinema, which offers an excellent selection of first run independent films.  Corina Bakery conveniently located next to the Grand on Fawcett, is great for a quick bite before or after the movies.  Deanna Bender’s Over the Moon Café on Opera Alley is one of my favorites for a casual lunch or special dinner.  The service is great, the décor is eclectic and the food’s delicious.  When I’m in the market for some new household furnishings, I like Giraffe and Dwelling, both on St. Helens.


Another great thing about the Vintage Y is its proximity to 27-acre Wright Park – a jewel of a green space that includes an arboretum, a playground, a running path and a pond complete with a bridge and waterside benches.  If you haven’t checked out the Vintage Y, the Theater District or Wright Park lately, you should.  Well worth the visit.  For more information about living at the Vintage Y and properties currently available for purchase, visit





Mark Pinto is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.  Click here to e-mail Mark or feel free to give him a call at (253) 318-0923.




Posted on September 17, 2014 at 9:23 am
South Sound Property Group | Category: Historic Homes, North Tacoma, Tacoma Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Five Major Considerations When Buying an Old House

As a commissioner for the City of Tacoma's Landmarks Preservation Commission and a former board member of Historic Tacoma, I've had a lot of experience with historic properties.  I've also been buying, renovating and selling historic homes myself for more than twenty years (45 houses and counting).  Not surprisingly, clients often seek my advice when they're thinking about buying an older house.  With the busy spring home buying season upon us, I thought it might be a good time to share some thoughts about what to consider when buying a historic home.  Below, I describe some of the “big ticket” replacement and repair costs that you may incur during the restoration of an older home.  It's important to note that there are loan programs and tax credits available to help defray some of these costs if you are buying a historic home in Tacoma.


1.  Not all old houses are created equal.  In my experience, houses built before 1900 were generally more poorly constructed than those built from 1900-1950.  The exception to this rule would be what I call the "robber baron" homes.  These turn of the century mansions were built with higher quality materials and engineering practices than more modest cottages built at the same time.  The grander homes are standing the test of time well.  The worker cottages, less so.  Smaller Victorian (pre-1900) homes were often built on posts and piers or loose rock/brick and mortar foundations.  In some instances, these foundations were later replaced or supplemented with concrete or block foundations, and settling issues are common.  This isn't necessarily a deal breaker.  Newer technologies allow for the levelling and repair of these foundations without breaking the bank.


 2.        Old houses aren’t usually insulated.  Builders didn't really begin insulating homes until the late teens and early twenties, and even then they generally just added cellulose (paper pulp) to the exterior walls and attics at very low insulating levels.  If you’ve ever demolished the ceiling in an older home, you'll know what I’m talking about.  You’re probably still discovering bits of the pulverized paper in your hair, ears and clothes.  If you’re doing a major remodel to a home, it makes sense to strip off the old interior plaster down to the studs so that the wiring and plumbing can be updated and insulation can be added.  If you’re not doing a major renovation, my advice would be to simply add insulation to the attic and underneath the first floor to increase the insulation value as much as possible.    Learn more about insulation at


3.      Are the mechanical systems up to date?  When buying an old house, people often encounter things like knob and tube wiring, galvanized and lead pipes, oil burning furnaces the size of a Winnebago and broken sewer lines.  Older systems aren't necessarily a problem, but a thorough pre-purchase home inspection can identify failing systems in need of immediate attention.  Be sure to factor the cost of plumbing, electrical and heating system upgrades into the purchase price of a home before you make an offer, and make sure you can afford to repair or replace these systems as it becomes necessary during your ownership.



4.       Original windows and doors are great.  Leave them alone!  Nothing frustrates me more than buyers who immediately think they have to replace all of the original doors and windows in a house.  It is significantly more cost effective to repair original windows and doors and install storm windows.  They’ll be just as energy efficient and will last exponentially longer than their cheap vinyl counterparts.  For more details regarding wood windows versus vinyl, check out my blog post regarding that subject here. 




5.       How many layers are on the roof?  Many older homes in Tacoma originally had wood shingle roofs with no underlayment to support a modern roof.  Over time, home owners have simply shingled over the original roof.  If a roof has three layers or more, it's no longer a candidate for re-shingling.  The roof will have to be completely torn off, and an underlayment of plywood or particle board will need to be installed before the new roofing material can be added.  Tear offs are three times as expensive as simple re-shingling so it's helpful to know how many layers a roof has before writing an offer to purchase an older home. 




Jeff Williams is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.  Click here to email Jeff or give him a call at 253-303-1135.











Posted on April 2, 2014 at 3:18 pm
South Sound Property Group | Category: Buying A Home, Historic Homes, Home Remodel, Investing In Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jeff Williams named to the City of Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission

Congratulations to Jeff,  recently nominated and approved by the Tacoma City Council to serve a two year term on the Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission.  The mission of the group is as follows: The Commission reviews and approves applications for changes to registered Landmarks and buildings within local historic districts, reviews nominations and advises City Council regarding additions to the Landmarks Register, and participates in the planning process.
To learn more about historic preservation, landmarks and historic districts in Tacoma visit the city's historic landmarks page here.  If you'd like to discuss the benefits of putting your historic property on the City of Tacoma Historic Register call or email Jeff, he'd be happy to hear from you!.


Jeff Williams is a Realtor with Windermere specializing in purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes in and around south Puget Sound.  Click here to email Jeff or give him a call at 253-303-1135.

Posted on December 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm
South Sound Property Group | Category: Community, Tacoma Real Estate | Tagged , , , ,