Home AEC Q&A: Austin-Based Developer StoryBuilt Expands into Seattle With New Office, Residential Projects

Q&A: Austin-Based Developer StoryBuilt Expands into Seattle With New Office, Residential Projects

StoryBuilt, Austin, Dallas, Seattle, Denver, Georgetown, Pinehurst, Ravenna, Beacon Hill, Shoreline, Columbia City, Morgan Junction, Roosevelt, Bel-Red corridor, Kirkland

By Kate Snyder

An urban residential and commercial developer is growing its presence in Seattle even further with the establishment of a new office in the city’s Georgetown neighborhood.

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, StoryBuilt has multiple projects in four of America’s fastest growing cities: Austin, Dallas, Seattle and Denver, according to the company’s website. The firm’s new Seattle office is located at 5840 Airport Way South, Suite 131, and currently it has seven real estate projects underway with 31 employees working in its new 4,000 square foot office space.

A few of those projects include a new mixed-use urban village in Seattle’s tree-lined Pinehurst neighborhood, a community of 16 boutique townhomes in the heart of Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood, another 16 townhomes in Shoreline’s Meridian Park neighborhood and another mixed-use urban village in South Seattle, according to recent announcements from the company.

In an exclusive Q&A with The Registry, StoryBuilt’s Seattle Division President Ben Rutkowski answered questions about the firm, the market in Seattle and the future for both.

StoryBuilt has been around for several years now in a number of communities throughout the country. What’s the story of StoryBuilt?   

StoryBuilt was founded in 2009, and is actively acquiring land and developing in Seattle, Austin, Dallas and Denver. With over 300 employees, StoryBuilt has built more than 40 communities including single family and mixed use.

What’s unique about the company? What sets it apart from its competitors? 

We are a fully integrated real estate developer with design, development, construction, sales and property management in house. Rather than focusing on delivering a specific type of project, we look for the best neighborhoods to build in and create solutions that respond to the needs of the location. Our outlook is on the long-term value we can provide to residents, partners and the neighborhood at large.  

You guys have just opened a new Seattle office. What will this new office allow StoryBuilt to do that it couldn’t do before?

 The Georgetown location was selected because it reflected what we look for in neighborhoods: rich with retail, industry, culture and history. The unique setting offers an opportunity to engage with the neighborhood and host events both internal and external. Our team built out a dynamic space that would foster broader collaboration with local and national partners. The new office really helps us establish our presence in Seattle and with multiple completed projects and a growing pipeline we needed a larger place for our growing team. 

Where do you see the Seattle market going in the next few years?   

The Seattle market has strong fundamentals based on continued population growth, diverse employment opportunities along with access to urban amenities and nature. With continued need for housing in the area, we’re leveraging our integrated capabilities to provide creative residential solutions. It’s critical that these solutions align with the resident in terms of location, price point and format. Inflation along with volatility of debt markets may create short-term challenges but we stay focused on long-term outlook for the region. 

You’ve got a number of projects going on in the Seattle area. Can you summarize a few of them and share what these projects will mean for the community?   

Most of our new communities are located near current or future light rail stops. We’re excited for the expanded light rail system in Seattle and the Eastside. We’re in the design and permitting phase for projects in Beacon Hill, Shoreline, Columbia City, Morgan Junction and Roosevelt. We are also actively seeking opportunities in the Bel-Red corridor and Kirkland.  These are growing and desirable neighborhoods and we’re excited to be contributing to them.  

What’s StoryBuilt’s goal whenever it acquires a new property or starts on a new project? 

Storybuilt’s mission is to find great sites in vibrant locations. Once we identify a site, our in-house design team works with the local development team to determine what is needed or missing in that location.   

Are there any other markets you’re excited about? Should any other cities be expecting a StoryBuilt presence in the near future?  

We are actively exploring our options. There are a few hubs we feel are in alignment with our expertise in urban infill but stay tuned. 

What challenges has the company faced in recent years? What challenges do you anticipate in the future? 

StoryBuilt has enjoyed strong growth in the Seattle market and the other markets we build in. As the scale and complexity of projects increases, we’ve focused on bringing on more talented individuals at all levels to improve processes and quality. In parallel with our continued growth, COVID created difficulty on the construction side with project stoppages and supply chain disruption. We’ve been able to adapt our work style by investing in technology and creating flexible workplace solutions. 

Overall, what are your thoughts on the state of the market? 

The market seems to be tightening, but we’re responding by being very selective in the sites we choose and we’re efficient as a company. Our focus is always on our customer and while there may be uncertainty, we believe the cities where we build are resilient and growing. 

Anything else that you want readers to know? 

While we’re scaling we continue to focus on a 360 view of our customers. We’re always looking for strategic partnerships and expanding our investor pool. We’re actively pursuing land, and we’re growing our property management technology platform and taking significant strides towards more sustainable processes and developments.