By Meghan Hall
With available land and infill opportunities near Seattle’s downtown core becoming few and far between, developers are getting creative in order to make the most of what’s left. For Vibrant Cities, a local developer based in the Puget Sound region, when the opportunity arose to develop a site in one of Seattle’s trendiest neighborhoods, the Vibrant Cities team jumped. Now, in coordination with Tiscareno Associates, construction has started on Pivot: a 75,000 square foot mixed-use project located at the nexus of the Capitol Hill and Pike/Pine neighborhoods, as well as downtown Seattle.
“The location is unbelievable and the view is breathtaking; we had to pursue [the property] right away, and we actually got it under contract within a couple of hours,” explained Ming Fung, CFO and co-founder of Vibrant Cities. “The Pike/Pine neighborhood is very interesting to us, and it is still experiencing a lot of growth. But we especially like the location because it is very walkable to downtown and the Amazon offices.”
Pivot is truly mixed use; when complete, the project will include 71 apartment units, 4,500 square feet of retail, including three restaurant and retail spaces, one level of underground parking and 11,000 square feet of office space. Delivery is expected for the fourth quarter of next year, likely in October or November, said Fung.
“When Ming and her team came to us, they gave us a pretty challenging program,” said Tiscareno Associates’ Bill Barton. “It is a small site; it’s very oddly shaped. It’s very exposed…It’s FAR limited, and so we went through quite a lot to maximize that, and part of that is what drove the numerous mixed-uses that are in the building. It is residential, office and retail stacked up. It is quite a lot into a small building.”
Much of Pivot’s programming and design is driven not just by its future as a mixed-use development, but its central location at the center of Seattle’s busiest neighborhoods.
“It was a very iterative process,” said Barton. “We had one core value of keeping the building bold and simple. The other core value was to be responsive to everything going on around the site, and that included Capitol Hill’s auto row…This was a strong typology [the community] really wanted us to adhere to. And we wanted to be responsive to downtown. We wanted to be responsive to the Pine/Pike Gateway.”
The resulting development will have eyes on Capitol Hill, and the lower floors will be designed to respond to the context of Pine Street. Because the site is diamond-shaped, the remaining two sides — and upper floors — of the building will face Melrose Market and downtown in an effort to maximize views for future residential tenants. The lower floors of the building will be clad in dark brick and large windows. The residential floors will be clad in lighter materials to contrast with the base of the building and emphasize the pivoting nature of the massing.
“The pivot idea was born from this transition from downtown to Capitol Hill; we have this crazy site diagram of what we are trying to be responsive to,” said Barton. “If you look at the elevations, it looks like a two-use building than something a lot more mixed. It has the very responsive element to Cap Hill, and then you turn the corner and it’s a different language, different aesthetic facing downtown.”
According to Fung, the eight-story development has already received a lot of interest from tenants and businesses alike, although Fung stated it was too early to disclose who would be occupying the space.
“We have already received an incredible amount of interest from strong residential operators who are interested in renting multiple floors of the building. We already have multiple Lis for commercial tenants. It is a well-received design, and the community has given us great feedback,” said Fung.
Fung believes the Seattle market, as well as interest in the building, will remain strong in the coming years as Pivot reaches completion. Vibrant Cities also has several other projects throughout Seattle in the works, including Roystone and Niwa, both located in the Queen Anne neighborhood. Currently, both projects are working their way through the entitlement process.
“We are still bullish in the Seattle metro area, and the job market is very strong. As long as the job market is there, we feel that the opportunity is here,” said Fung.
In addition, Tiscareno and Vibrant Cities have plans to work together on future projects.
“Bill and the team put in a lot of work to optimize this site and make this work for us, and we have a strong relationship with them,” said Fung. “It’s a long-term partnership, and we’ve become good friends, and there is a lot to be built upon between the two groups.”