Paul Allen’s Seattle-based real estate development firm, Vulcan Inc., and Runberg Architecture Group submitted plans with the city for two neighboring residential projects in Seattle’s South Lake Union (SLU) neighborhood. One project is a 24-story tower and the other is a smaller project with seven stories, totaling approximately 390 units on the same half city block.
According to Lori Mason Curran, the investment strategy director for Vulcan, the developer had already owned the site at 401 Eighth Avenue North when it purchased neighboring site 433 Eighth Avenue North. “We’ve already gone down the path of designing the high-rise before we bought the other piece,” said Mason Curran. “It would not have made sense to go back and redesign it as a single project. We also probably would not of gotten as many units doing it that way because of some of the restrictions, in terms of towers and spacing. From a land use standpoint, they are two separate projects, but they’ll be built together as one.”
At the corner of Eighth Avenue North and Harrison Street, the high-rise tower will have between 285 to 300 residential projects and approximately 10,000 square feet of residential amenity space. At the corner of Eighth Avenue North and Republican Street, the smaller building will have between 75 to 90 and approximately 6,300 square feet of ground level retail space. According to Mason Curran, the projects are still in an early predevelopment stage and plans for the amenity and retail spaces have not yet been determined.
The two sites are located between several SLU neighborhood heart locations, such as Denny Park to the south and the Westlake commercial district to the east. One goal of the projects is to connect Denny Park to SLU residents by using Eighth Avenue North as a continuation and connector to the park, which aligns with the proposed Eighth Avenue Residential Corridor. The site is also near a major transit connection on Harrison Street, and will become even more accessible to public transportation as the Mercer Corridor improvement are completed.
Vulcan’s history in SLU dates back to the mid 90’s when a committee for Seattle Commons approached Paul Allen, who didn’t own any real estate in the area at the time, regarding building a park along the Westlake corridor, says Mason Curran. Seattleites voted against a tax levy that would raise money to build the park, so Allen gained ownership of the land. Mason Curran says that Allen had felt then that the neighborhood, which was predominantly industrial, showed promise due to its great location with its proximity to the lake and downtown. Today, the neighborhood is known for its biotech community and has become a highly sought-after area in all market sectors.
“Vulcan has about 40 acres of land assembled throughout the neighborhood,” said Mason Curran. “At our peak, we owned about 60.” Some of the many projects in SLU that Vulcan has developed include the Allen Institute, University of Washington School of Medicine, Amazon campus and South Lake Union Discovery Center. According to Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors, an apartment research firm for the Puget Sound region, the developer has over 2,000 residential units scheduled to be delivered into Seattle’s housing market by 2020.