By Robert Carlsen

A Miami-based developer is causing quite a stir with plans to build a 101-story tower in Seattle’s financial district called Fourth & Columbia, which would be among the tallest buildings on the West Coast if everything falls into place.

Crescent Heights, which has regional offices in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, is also planning a twin-tower mixed-use project at 1901 Minor Ave. in the Denny Triangle.

The developer is known for its 39-story Walton on the Park Tower in Chicago, which opened in 2010, and is currently overseeing preconstruction on its 23-story 524 Howard St. tower in San Francisco near the new Transbay Terminal.

According to Roman Speron, regional manager for Crescent Heights, Fourth & Columbia’s half-block site is situated on Fourth Ave. between Cherry and Columbia streets. Although very early in the design phase, the current plans envision a mixed-use project consisting of an “approximately 100-story tower” with up to 1,200 residences, a boutique hotel and 70,000 square feet of flexible retail and/or office space. Seattle-based LMN Architects will design the tower’s facade.

The Seattle Department of Planning and Development’s most recent development objectives summary from its “Early Design Guidance Application Draft” indicated that there will also be eight levels below ground and four levels above ground parking for 750 cars.

According to the Daily Journal of Commerce, the Fourth & Columbia site currently consists of a parking garage, surface parking lot and the Ox Box Gym. Across Fourth Avenue from the site is the city’s tallest tower, the Columbia Center, at 76 stories.

Although the final height of the tower has not yet been determined, press reports say the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles is the tallest tower on the West Coast at 1,018 feet and 73 stories (plus two stories underground), while the One World Trade Center tower in New York is the nation’s tallest at 1,776 feet and 104 stories. However, depending on how heights are determined, Seattle city planner Dennis Meier said two other West Coast tower projects, the currently under-construction Salesforce Tower in San Francisco (1,070 feet) and the also currently under-construction Wilshire Grand Tower in Los Angeles (934 feet; 1,100 with spire), are also in the mix.

Meanwhile, the 1901 Minor Ave. project plan currently consists of two 39-story towers with a seven-story podium and three levels of below-grade parking with 458 stalls. According to the Crescent Heights Web site and the city’s design review panel, there are at least 600 residential units on the current plan, though that number might change, along with 15,000 or 8,700 square feet of retail space. Gensler is the architect. (Crescent Heights refused to comment further on their Seattle projects’ details, since it is still too early in the process.)

The one-half-block site is located along the northern border of the Denny Triangle urban center and to the south of Denny Way. It connects with Minor Ave. and Virginia St.

In and around the 1901 Minor Ave. project is an active construction zone of apartment, office and hotel projects. With Crescent Heights’ two projects, up to 2,000 more residential units will hit the marketplace. Mike Scott of Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors said that developers have already opened almost 6,500 units in King County so far this year. Another 17,000 units are under construction and 27,000 more units are in planning and expected to open over the next five years. He said that almost half of the development completed this year, under construction or planned in King County is in the in-city Seattle market (Stadiums to Ship Canal and Lake Washington to Puget Sound).