By Jack Stubbs
Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood, the first district to be founded in the city, often draws attention for its longstanding history. However, a recent commercial sale indicates that the neighborhood is very much on the radar of Seattle’s commercial real estate market.
On Friday, December 1st, Seattle-based Unico Properties acquired a 12-story parking garage in Pioneer Square for $30.75 million, or approximately $202 per square foot, according to public records filed with King County. The seller of the property was Laz Parking Realty Investors, a Boston, Massachusetts-based company that identifies and invests in parking assets nationwide. Unico Properties is a real estate investment company that specializes in the management of commercial and multifamily assets.
NKF Capital Markets vice chairman and head of retail capital markets Nicholas Bicardo, director Brandon Rogoff, and finance director Jim Tribble represented the seller LAZ Parking in the transaction, according to a statement by NKF.
“Unico viewed this acquisition as an opportunity to continue to expand its presence in Pioneer Square,” said Bicardo in the statement.
Built in 2001, the parking garage totals 152,300 square feet across 12 stories and contains 456 parking stalls. There is also a one- level 2,900 square foot retail store on 2nd Ave. at street level. Located at 114 James Street, the structure sits on a .3-acre parcel of land.
The property is located in the heart of Seattle’s historic district, just one block from Pioneer Square and three blocks to the north of Occidental Square. The garage is less than half a mile from access to Washington State Route 99, and is also half a mile from Colman Dock and the Seattle Ferry Terminal on the Elliott Bay waterfront.
Founded in 1953, Unico Properties develops, owns and manages commercial and multifamily assets in Seattle, Portland, Denver and Austin, as well as throughout the western United States. Unico currently owns and operates more than 13 million square feet of office properties, medical office buildings and multifamily residences nationwide, according to the company’s web site.
With the acquisition of the parking garage, Unico Properties is following up on another recent larger outlay in commercial market: on September 28 2017, the company bought the World Trade Center North Building, a 5-story 133,177 square foot Class A office building—located just a mile north of the garage on the edge of Elliott Bay—for $65 million from TH Real Estate.
Some of the other commercial properties in the company’s Seattle portfolio include 51 University, a six-story 96,000 square foot office building located in the Waterfront District; 701 Dexter, a 6-story building with 4 floors of office and 2 floors of parking located in South Lake Union; and 705 Union Station, a 257,769 square foot office building also located in Pioneer Square.
Laz Parking Realty Investors is a private company that was founded in 2007 by a team of a real estate and parking professionals. The company aims to identify and acquire parking assets nationwide, seeking value-add opportunities, according to its web site. The company invests in various parking assets, from simple surface lots to mixed-use garages, whose primary demand comes from office, retail, residential, hotels, sporting events and airports.
Specifically, the company targets strategically-located parking assets that fall within the central business districts of the nation’s top 50 markets that generate parking demand. Since Laz Parking Realty’s founding, the company has acquired in excess of 60 individual parking assets ranging in value from $1 million to $165 million.
There have been a couple of other noteworthy parking garage transaction in Seattle over the last year. In August 2016, developer Urban Visions acquired a two-story parking garage on a 20,000 square foot parcel for $13.1 million from Portland, Oregon-based Gerding Edlen. In October 2016, Washington, D.C.-based Madison Marquette acquired the Pacific Place Garage, a 440,185 square foot 1,240-stall structure in downtown Seattle.