Every once in a while, I will sit down for a longer conversation with a local, North Seattle business owner. My goal? Simple – try to tell the story of what they do, how they got here, and where they see the community going. If you would like to nominate someone to be highlighted in this series, please email me.
Today’s interview was with Tyler Davis Jones. Tyler is a friend of mine and a great reason for me to love North Seattle. As a new dad, Tyler cares about creating a safe, caring, and healthy community here in North Seattle and specifically Wedgwood. Tyler is also a real estate agent specifically in the growing Wedgwood market. He and I sat down a few weeks ago at Hellbent Brewing Company to discuss his business, his life, and his vision for North Seattle.
Moreover, Tyler will be writing some Real Estate updates for Our North Seattle – so I hope you enjoy and get used to his name around here.
Nate Strong (@ndlstrong): Tell me about yourself.
Tyler (Davis) Jones (Insta | Twitter): My name is Tyler Davis Jones and I work with Windermere Real Estate. My wife and I recently bought a house in the neighborhood of Wedgwood, Seattle, which we love. We have a daughter who is seven months old and Jenn and I have been married to for 4+ years – they’re both amazing.
NS: You moved from Queen Anne to come to the North Seattle community – something that I myself did as well. As a fellow transplant, I’m interested to hear why?
TJ: I loved Queen Anne. Who wouldn’t? But Wedgwood is home. It’s slower, you know? It feels peaceful when I get home. Like when I go to Café Javasti, people are talking to each other – it’s like West Seattle, but West Seattle is so far away from everything. We are slower in a good way. I also believe Wedgwood’s way more community-driven than anywhere else I’ve lived. People care about other people and you can feel it here.
From an investment perspective, the lot sizes are bigger than most places in Seattle. The average sold price for a home is much less compared to Queen Anne, Ballard or Fremont. You’ll get a lot more house for your money. Also, it’s kind of a blank canvas – we can make Wedgwood and our neighborhood what we want!
NS: What did people around you think about North Seattle when you said you were moving here?
TJ: A good friend of ours had a tough time with us moving all the way out to Wedgwood – “it’s pretty far man,” they said. But when you GPS it, you realize… it’s not a bad commute at all. And Lake City Way doesn’t get nearly as backed up as many of the other places in Seattle.
From a business perspective, it’s not on the radar of many of my clients. I’ll pitch the idea of Northeast Seattle, and the thought doesn’t even cross their mind. Until they get here and see how far their money can really go – you have to be in it to really see it. This is again why I’m so excited to be here. It’s like the wild west. We have so much potential to make this community what we want. I love this! But it’s not for the faint of heart. I’ve suggested North Seattle to many of my clients, and a couple of them have pursued houses here. But the truth is, it’s not yet as culturally defined as Fremont or Queen Anne. Some see this as a deterrent… I see this as an opportunity.
NS: What do you think are the major issues facing North Seattle?
TJ: “Where are the sidewalks?” I get that all the time. It’s a great question – I don’t know. I know there’s a lot of great research around what sidewalks do for a community. Like encouraging people to get outside and walk, to go meet your neighbor, to reach out to your community. That’s one of the issues that is facing North Seattle, for sure.
There’s also a decent number of questionable businesses, especially around Lake City Way. I’m sure many of these businesses are run by law-abiding, taxpaying citizens. I think that’s great! However, cleanliness on Lake City Way and our community is extremely important. Having some sort of cohesive aesthetic would be beneficial – having more businesses like Hellbent Brewing Company. If you care about the business and product, than that’s shown in what you’re doing. We’ll need to figure out good standards for businesses on main roads throughout our communities.
NS: So you’re talking about Strip Clubs?
TJ: Well, I’m not going to disagree with supply and demand. While these services aren’t something that I would utilize, I think having some form of regulation around aesthetics and good business practices would be helpful – but truthfully I don’t even know if that’s possible. I wonder if the city could create some form of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions guidelines for the community? Basically, a contract within a development where you can do xy and z to your building, then you still have the creative ability to do what you want. This type of regulation works in condo and townhome communities, maybe that would be beneficial for North Seattle policy.
NS: Then overall, what do you do with Lake City Way?
TJ: Bring in affordable housing and hotels to the area. As you’re crossing over the Aurora bridge, southbound coming from Queen Anne, you see a lot of new development around Fremont – there are less expensive extended-stay hotels being built. You also see lower income housing communities. I think these are a couple of options here on Lake City Way that might bring culture and community to the area. Seattle needs more inexpensive hotels that are not hourly motels. Something that’s an affordable $100 a night, not $200+ at the Pan Pacific.
If you follow Fremont all the way up to 85th and Aurora, there’s been some really cool projects that are happening – Woodlands Pizza and the Starbucks drive-through. Zillow has some great research about how when a Starbucks moves into a neighborhood, it increases the value of the surrounding property 28% more than the average. While there’s already a Starbucks on LCW and 120th, I believe that adding additional coffee shops that aren’t drive-in bikini baristas would be a value-add – like the repurposed shipping container Starbucks in Ballard.
NS: Interesting you mention it, because this seems to be an increasing topic of discussion around here. Should Lake City become the new Ballard?
TJ: A couple of months back, the city council was talking about lifting many of the single-family development restrictions in order to let the market dictate what housing was needed in Seattle. There was a pretty big backlash to this idea and they ended up revoking it. To me, it’s an interesting idea. The economist in me that believes that the market often generates solutions to new demands. However, the NE Seattle resident in me does not want to see 2,000 townhomes built three-to-one on a single lot the way we see it in Ballard.
I don’t think Wedgwood or North Seattle is the place to do that. I think North East Seattle specifically is the place of restoration and revitalization – new families moving into old families’ homes and continuing their legacy. I think a campaign worded around that ideology is a way to pursue growth – but also resisting development in the way that the market dictates.
NS: What do you think draws people to Ballard?
TJ: The food, the walkability, the options. There are so many options to really entertain yourself! You’re also close to downtown, which is nice.
Do you start with the development of bringing more people in to create demand for restaurants and things like that? Or do you start with the restaurants, like Ethan Stowell or Tom Douglas.
NS: Switching gears back to the North End, how do you bring revitalization to North Seattle?
TJ: Talk to those guys – Tom Douglas, Ethan Stowell. They carry a lot of weight. Demand drives a lot of decision making. If you could get a collective group of people who were on board to get Wedgwood or Lake City Way to be the next foodie place, or maybe even dare one of these guys to open a place… that would be cool.
NS: You’re a real estate agent in this community, so when you’re selling Wedgwood, what do you say?
TJ: I talk about the 35th Ave Revitalization Proposal. This shows forward progress; it shows the community wants something more. There’s one too many vacant properties on 35th. The opportunity is huge.
I talk about a little slower life – you can have your fast-paced city life, but do you want to come home to a fast-paced home life? Or do you want to come home and enjoy your family and enjoy a walk to Café Javasti or Mathews Beach?
Closeness to the Burke Gilman. I’m training for a triathlon so I hop on my bike and I’m two minutes from the Burke.
Affordability! 4 bedroom, 1.75 bath with a 7,000 square foot lot – compare that to Magnolia and you’re saving upwards of $200k.
NS: What are some local businesses you recommend?
TJ: Cafe Javasti – Local coffee shop
Wedgwood Smiles – dentist
Woodlawn Optical – optician
Maid in the NW for maid services for cleaning – for clients
All that Dance – my wife and I have chatted about it – hasn’t happened yet, but it would be fun
Wedgwood Broiler – Classic prime rib
Fiddler’s Inn – that’s my dive jam
Hellbent Brewing – second favorite brewery
NS: What do you love about Real Estate?
TJ: I love helping people. I love that my service impacts people in a very deep and real way. I love that what I bring to the table in saving them a lot of money and can really make life a little easier. It’s one of the most stressful times of your life – buying a home and getting settled. I pride myself on bringing the best assets to the table. I love connecting people who are really good at their jobs – my contractor, I believe in him because I think he’s really good at his job. My cleaner, my plumber, my electrician – I love connecting those people to other people because the goodness spreads.
If you know of any local business owner that we should highlight, let us know!