By Meghan Hall
Toll Brothers, one of the largest home construction companies in the United States, has purchased Belltown’s historic Franklin Apartments in Seattle for $24.813 million, according to public property records. The landmarked site was previously owned by China-based TeamRise Group, who bought the now-landmarked site in 2014 for around $20 million. The 40-unit, 18,000 square foot building was originally constructed in 1918 and was TeamRise’s first acquisition in the United States.
With the property, Toll Brothers has also acquired TeamRise’s plans to develop the site; in 2016, the former owner submitted plans for the construction of a 24-story tower that will rise directly next to the original three story building. The project, called Fourth & Bell Tower, would be located at 2302 4th Ave., would include about 274,750 square feet and include 287 residential units with 204 parking stalls. Around 8,700 square feet of retail space was also included in the plans.
“Of the 28 remaining pre-World War II apartment buildings in Belltown, the Franklin ranks high in terms of retaining integrity — it is one of four that retains its exterior character defining features,” according to a 2015 Landmark Nomination Report Analysis submitted to the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board. “It represents the everyday story of middle class residents who lived in affordable housing near the center city. Early 20th apartment blocks are important to the community and greatly defines Belltown.”
The Franklin Apartments were built in 1918 as an investment property for real estate developer Frank M. Jordan. George Lawton and Herman A. Moldenhour were the architects of the building, which was constructed in the Georgian Revival style. According to previous reporting done by The Registry, two and three-bedroom apartments were going for between $45 and $60 per month. The building was later purchased by L.A. Black in 1932 and changed hands several times before it was acquired by Howard Close in 1973, who then sold it to TeamRise.
The entitled tower was designed by Seattle-based Studio 19 Architects and Los Angeles-based CallisonRTKL. Project documents indicate that the roof of the Franklin Apartments would be utilized as an outdoor amenity area. Public documents indicate that the plans for the site were approved this year, and a Master Use Permit was issued in April.
With permits secured, Horsham, Penn.-based Toll Brothers, who specializes in new construction homes, can break ground immediately. Founded in 1967, the company has built and sold more than 100,000 homes throughout the United States. Its Toll Brothers City Living Brand specializes in constructing high-quality assets in some of the largest urban markets in the United States; currently Toll Brothers City Living has 12 properties in New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C. as part of its City Living Brand.