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By Neil Gonzales

Seattle-based sustainable developer Urban Visions has a watery design for an ambitious commercial project in the southern part of downtown.

How watery? “It will have an aqua culture where you can raise fish to eat,” Urban Visions CEO Greg Smith said.

The proposed $750 million project would feature ponds where salmon and steelhead could be raised and harvested, other agricultural space to grow crops and artificial wetlands—all integrated among seven latticed glass buildings up to 10 stories. Seattle-based NBBJ is the architect.

This project will be good for the environment and great for the occupants

“There’s definitely going to be urban agriculture on site,” Smith said.

Otherwise, the project would build about 1.2 million square feet of offices and 200,000 square feet of retail space at the intersection of Interstate 90 and Airport Way South, east of CenturyLink Field.

The project had been dubbed Stadium East for its proximity to CenturyLink but now simply goes by “S” in large part for its sustainable focus. The one-letter name can also stand for Seattle or the shape the project would resemble if seen from above.

The project’s other sustainable components would include garden rooftops, rainwater capture, solar energy and plenty of natural light.

“This project will be good for the environment and great for the occupants,” Smith said.

Although the project would be more expensive to build and result in higher rents compared to a standard modern construction, he said, it would generate savings in the long run because of its highly energy-efficient elements.

An employer leasing space there could eventually save at least 5 percent in worker-related costs because the ultra-sustainable, healthy workplace would help improve employee recruitment, retention and productivity, he said.

“It will give occupants a better place to think, breathe and interact,” he said.

Smith believes the project would serve as a model for future developments seeking a high level of sustainability. “That’s one way it’ll be a trendsetter,” he said.

The project would also take advantage of being in the vicinity of the Stadium Station light-rail stop, Union Station/King Street Station regional mass transportation center and I-90 bicycle trail.

The project could break ground within two years and be built in phases over time. It would target so-called TAMI tenants—or those in the technology, advertising, media and information industries.

Construction would start once the project is preleased—much like what happened with another Urban Visions development at 200 Occidental Ave. South, which will be the new headquarters for forest-products giant Weyerhaeuser Co.

Seattle economist Matthew Gardner pointed out that the S project represents a growing interest in the south downtown area.

“Historically, other than the football stadium, there’s been little development there,” Gardner said. “But people are moving to where land is available, and that’s to the south. This will bring increased vitality to the area.”

Developers are also increasingly looking to incorporate energy-efficient systems into their projects, he said. “Sustainability is going to be important.”