Last Friday, Urban Visions Seattle Real Estate acquired a two-story parking garage on a 20,000-square-foot parcel in the city’s Pioneer Square neighborhood for just under $13.1 million, according to public records. Greg Smith, the founder and CEO of the local developer, says there is an ongoing lawsuit associated with the property that is scheduled for a hearing in September.
“We bought the building, so therefore, we bought the lawsuit,” said Smith. “Once we have a clear direction from it, we’ll start our new vision for the property.”
The area is very much in demand
The seller, Portland-based developer Gerding Edlen, had submitted an application for the property at 316 Alaskan Way South in mid 2014 with intentions to build an 11-story residential building containing 200 units and 6,530 square feet of retail space, according to city records. The Pioneer Square Preservation Board voted against approving the proposed project, saying it would be incompatible with the scale of the smaller surrounding buildings in the neighborhood’s preservation district. The director for Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods overruled the preservation board’s decision, but only for it to be appealed by those who lived and worked in the area. The Deputy Hearing Examiner sided with those protesting, and the proposed project was rejected, says public documents.
The case is now scheduled to go before the King County Superior Court in order to appeal the decision, so that Urban Visions can ultimately move forward with its plans for the property. “The proposed project wasn’t taller than other buildings in the immediate vicinity, it was just the tallest building on that particular block,” said Smith. “It’s very subjective.”
“We’re very excited to own this property,” added Smith. “It’s strategically positioned near the new Waterfront Promenade, so we’re not in a rush. We’ve been involved in Pioneer Square for many decades and are looking forward to creating something that will be a positive addition to the neighborhood.”
Urban Visions has a 216,000-square-foot office project at 200 Occidental in Pioneer Square that is under construction and scheduled to open this fall. The developer also has a proposed project in the neighborhood, a 120-foot residential tower at 165 South Washington that is still in predevelopment.
According to Smith, the neighborhood is highly sought after by developers looking for a solid investment. “Pioneer Square is the birthplace of Seattle,” said Smith. “It has a large historic district that preserves the largest collection of historic buildings on the West Coast. It has irreplaceable charm and offers proximity to the waterfront and public transportation. The area is very much in demand.”