By Meghan Hall
Seattle’s hotel market has seen a spark in recent years, with 2017 considered a record year for hotel sales according to a recent Kidder Mathews report. Occupancy rates across the city have been nearly 80 percent, the strength of which has paralleled convention center growth and Amazon’s expansion into Seattle’s Central Business District. The increased need for hotels across the city has prompted a surge in development — including a new 30 story mixed-use hotel and apartment complex located at 4512 11th Avenue Northeast in Seattle’s University District, which received the green light on September 23rd from the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections to proceed beyond the design phase and submit an application for a Master Use Permit.
“Most hotel developers base their decisions on essentially the same data regarding population growth, hotel market performance, etc., so when the numbers suggest the potential for new supply, everyone jumps in,” explained John D. Gordon, senior vice president at Kidder Mathews.
The $220 million project — to be called Nuovo Tower — is proposed by Bellevue-based Evergreen Lodging and is designed by Seattle-based Caron Architecture. The project would demolish the existing two story buildings on the site and construct a 320 foot mixed-use tower containing both a 170 key hotel, located on the lower floors of the project, and 100 apartment units. The ground floor will be 12,735 square feet and both the development’s retail space and the entrances to the residential and hotel portions of the building. Four levels of below-grade parking containing 180 parking spaces are also included in the plans.
The apartment portion of the building will contain a variety of one-bedroom, open one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units. A two story owner-occupied unit will be located near the top of the tower. The hotel will also contain one- and two-bedroom units and have a host of amenities, including a lounge and a fitness center.
The proposed project site is located mid-block between 11th Avenue Northeast between Northeast 47th and Northeast 45th Streets, and is surrounded by newer development projects such as a six story residential development to the north and a seven story hotel to the east. A six story residential development will soon break ground west of the site. The University of Washington is also planning to add 6 million square feet of space in partnership with local institutions to promote innovation and startups in the area.
“The next logical commercial district to be developed by the City of Seattle is the University District, with its proximity to the CBD area,” explained Nicholas Ong, the project’s EB-5 Funding general manager from American NW Regional Center. “Once the Light Rail Transit is completed in 2021, the University station (located across the street from the project) is only eight minutes right to downtown, making it a very attractive location for people working in the CBD.”
The American NW Regional Center is an affiliate of Evergreen Lodging and PFHC Inc., which has been building hotels in the Puget Sound since 1978. The group also owns and operates the Residence Inn located next to the site.
According to Ong, the goal of the development is to target extended stay business professionals and to create additional fully furnished apartments and corporate housing in order to appeal to future startups and business overflow from South Lake Union.
The Review Board had some minor concerns regarding the design of the development, according to Pragnesh Parikh, an associate principal for Caron Architecture working on the project. However, the board also recognized that much of the initial design was a response to the site’s geometry and the full-length façade activation created by the project’s street setbacks.
“We are proposing to wrap the neighborhood open space along the front of the building along 11th Avenue Northeast to create opportunities for interactive spaces, street level transparency and enhanced accessibility to the sloped site that requires stepped floor plates for various entry points to the project program,” explained Parikh.
Construction of the project is expected to break ground in 2021, with its anticipated completion in 2023.