South Lake Union

The South Lake Union neighborhood played an important role in Seattle’s history.  Native Americans were the early settlers of South Lake Union and it was a trailhead for major trails headed for Elliott Bay and the Duwamish River. David Denny, an original Seattle pioneer, claimed land in 1853 extending from Mercer to Denny Way. The lake was originally one-third larger than it is today. A small bay extended inland to Mercer Street and a stream ran through and around Boren Avenue.

Today South Lake Union is an urban neighborhood transformed. It has become one of the trendiest addresses in Seattle. It is now primarily a mix of restaurants, historical boats, kayak rentals, yachts for sale, and seaplane rides, all connected by a shoreline boardwalk.

Located close to downtown, Queen Anne and Capitol Hill, the South Lake Union neighborhood is situated in a prime location for many employers.  It is home to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the world’s finest cancer research institute. One of the leading edge biotechnology companies, Zymogenetics (dedicated to the prevention and treatment of human diseases), has also made its headquarters in South Lake Union.

South Lake Union is being developed at an incredible rate.  Updates to South Lake Union park have been recently completed, and new cafes, grocery stores and shops are soon to come.  The properties in South Lake Union display a unique architecture of the working 1920’s. Buildings display a refreshing variety of decoration, including excellent examples of terra cotta, ornate brick patterns, and multi-pane industrial windows.

With its central location, properties in South Lake Union offer an easy commute – Fred Hutch and Zymogenetics are within walking distance, a short bus ride gets you to companies located in Belltown or downtown, and eastside commuters have quick access to I-5.  This teamed with the new development means many young professionals make their home here.  Students and professors at University of Washington also occasionally settle in South Lake Union due to its proximity and easy bus access to the school.

Fun Stuff
South Lake Union Park is a unique urban gem destined to become a popular, close-in waterfront park as it develops. Known officially as the South Lake Union Seaport Park, the City of Seattle is turning the former Naval Reserve base and armory on the lakefront into a 12-acre, $35 million park.

The flagship REI store (80,000 sq. ft!) is an outdoor adventure store that is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. The building’s main attraction is a 65-foot indoor climbing wall (one of the world’s tallest indoor walls!) just inside the entrance. It’s open to all levels of ability. Test hiking boots or mountain bikes on the loop trail outside, enjoy an espresso next to the waterfall, plan trips with the help of Park Service or Forest Service personnel at the in-store Outdoor Recreation Information Center, or simply wander through the clothing and gear. The store also features an auditorium where you can watch outdoor presentations and clinics most evenings.

Run by volunteers, the Center for Wooden Boats is a small boathouse that is also a hands-on maritime museum. Its purpose is to preserve our rich, vital and varied small craft heritage by preserving both the artifacts and the time-tested maritime skills. Featuring rental of classic wooden boats, sailing lessons, workshops, and a relaxing atmosphere of hand-crafted artistry to knock your socks off!

Right next door is the Maritime Heritage Center, with vintage wooden boats, including the Wawona. Constructed in 1897, this was the largest three-masted sailing schooner built in North America and the first American ship to be listed as a National Historic Site. Built with six- by eight-inch planks that are 120 feet long, the Wawona is open for self-guided public tours daily.

Chandlers Cove on the south end of Lake Union encompasses two marinas with a small shopping area and several restaurants, including Hooters, Chandler’s Clubhouse, Dukes’ Chowder House, and Cucina! Cucina! Several other restaurants are at the nearby Yale St. Landing mall.

Seattle’s oldest park, Denny Park, is a quiet spot amid busy streets. Denny Park lies on pioneer, David Denny’s, land claim, and was donated to the City by Denny and his wife in 1864. The park continues to host the Seattle Parks and Recreation Administration building as well as a ball field, children’s play area, picnic facilities, and a public restroom.

Average Rent: $$$

Primary Housing:

Medium Apartment Buildings

Large Mid-rise Apartment Buildings


Commute Times:

Downtown Seattle 5 minutes

Eastside 20 minutes, 40 minutes in traffic

Conveniently located between Downtown and Lake Union and with close access to I-5, South Lake Union is a rapidly transforming neighborhood. With the arrival of Amazon's world headquarters, this neighborhood is playing a major role in redefining in-city Seattle.

Significant development continues in this neighborhood that historically has been a mish mash of early and mid-century low-rise office buildings and warehouses. A trolley now connects South Lake Union with Downtown. New residential and retail development is transforming this neighborhood into a vibrant community.

Rental housing in this neighborhood primarily consists of recently developed mid-rise apartment buildings and a few private, predominately loft-style, condominiums for rent. These newer properties offer great building amenities and quick access to the amenities and restaurants that wrap around the south end of Lake Union.

In addition quick access to I-5 makes this neighborhood a popular choice for people wanting in-city living with convenient access to work on the Eastside. This neighborhood is sure to see extensive redevelopment in coming years as it becomes one of the emerging high-demand neighborhoods in Seattle.