By Jack Stubbs
Neighborhoods in the heart of downtown Seattle—particularly the neighborhoods of Belltown and South Lake Union—continue to densify, as investors and developers seek to capitalize on the vibrant character of the buzzing Central Business District.
On March 2nd, in a transaction that was recently-recorded, a two-parcel property at 124 and 130 Fifth Ave. N—home to a 3,700 square foot coffee shop and an adjacent parking lot—sold for $8.5 million, King County records show.
The buyer was Supreme Bright Seattle LLC, an entity which sharers the same address as Lewisville, TX-based NewcrestImage, a national developer of high-end hotel properties. The seller of the property was Bellevue-based Columbia West Properties, a commercial real estate investment company that operates along the West Coast.
According to project plans submitted to the city, the site–which is adjacent to the Space Needle and Seattle Center, and just blocks from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation–is slated for the development of a luxury 11-story hotel, which was recently reviewed at an Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting.
In mid-February, the developer, Supreme Bright Seattle LLC, along with Minneapolis-based ESG Architecture and Design and Mortenson Construction, presented its plans to transform the coffee shop and parking lot into a high-end hotel development intended to contribute to the evolving character of the neighborhood. However, the West Design Review Board requested that the design team return for a second EDG meeting, citing its desire to see revised design proposals that were more in line with the city’s design guidelines—particularly in terms of delivering a project that would be compatible with the existing fabric of the growing Belltown neighborhood, according to The Registry’s coverage of the meeting.
“What is important to know is that we are part of an emerging neighborhood,” explained Trace Jacques, partner at ESG Architecture and Design. “We are an urban infill site, so our design is focusing on building fabric and weaving into that fabric. We really looked at three fundamentals that really drive how we analyze the site,” Jacques added. “Those three elements are [influenced by] the fact that it is a very compact site; it is a postage-sized site…We have a strong focus on the street, and the street wall. Right now this site has a gap in the street wall.”
Project documents indicate that the development—called 5th and John Hotel–will total 106,140 square feet and include 196 guest rooms on floors two through eleven. A commercial kitchen, on-site laundry, loading and back-of-house spaces will be located on the first floor and basement. No specific hotel brand has been solidified to operate the property, although Mortenson emphasized the project’s design will fit almost any brand that focuses on casual modernity, guest wellness and integrated outdoor amenity areas.
NewcrestImage’s portfolio of hospitality properties includes a number of high-end brands including Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Marriott, according to the company’s web site. The enterprise that would become NewcrestImage started in an independent hotel in Marlin, Texas. After coming to the U.S., the Lallubhai Kalidas Patel family purchased the Houston’s Motel in 1878. A year later, they bought the Sunset Inn in Longview, Texas, which would become the family’s base for over thirty years.