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Seattle Times sells former HQ building to Canadian firm

The Seattle Times has sold the landmark building that was its longtime headquarters, along with a 2.5-acre parking lot across the street, to a Canadian company for a total of $62.5 million.
Real estate development company Onni, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, is buying the block where the paper's old office building stands at 1120 John St. The Times had moved its operations to a nearby building, where it leases space.
The Times also sold a 2.5-acre parking lot between Denny and John streets and Boren and Fairview avenues north for $33.5 million, public records show.The Times reported the total value of the deal at $62.5 million.
The properties are in the South Lake Union area, which the city of Seattle recently rezoned to allow property owners to develop larger buildings. Amazon.com’s headquarters buildings are in the neighborhood, and other developers are planning to build office, retail and multifamily projects in the area.
The Onni Group is a private company. According to its website, it has built more than 5,000 homes in the past decade. In addition, it manages 5 million square feet of commercial property and more than 3,800 rental apartment units.
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Redevelopment of Seattle Times property will start immediately

The new owner of The Seattle Times’ old headquarters building said Wednesday that his company plans to start developing the property soon.
Vancouver, British Columbia-based Onni Group plans to build high-density office, retail and residential projects on the site at the corner of Denny Way and Fairview Avenue North. The developments will be phased, Onni Executive Vice President Chris Evans said.
“Our intention is to move forward with redevelopment immediately,” Evans said, adding that Onni has not yet hired consultants to help develop the land but is in the process of doing so.
This is the first property that Onni, a private company, has bought in Seattle.
In different North American markets, Onni has built more than 5,000 homes in the past decade, and manages 5 million square feet of commercial property and more than 3,800 rental apartment units.
Onni is buying the block where the Times’ old office building stands at 1120 John St. The Times had moved its operations to a nearby building, where it leases space. Evans expects the property sale to be done by the end of this year.
Another part of the transaction was finalized this week. The Times sold a 2.5-acre parking lot between Denny and John streets and Boren and Fairview avenues north for $33.5 million, public records show.
The Times reported the total value of both deals is $62.5 million.
The properties are in the South Lake Union area, which the city of Seattle recently rezoned. Under the new rules, Onni will be able to build a tower up to 400 feet tall on the property along Denny, and one up to 240 feet tall on the property where the Times’ old headquarters was.
Amazon.com’s headquarters buildings are in the neighborhood, and other developers are planning to build office, retail and multifamily projects there. Vulcan Real Estate is building more office space for Amazon.
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Seattle Times Co. reaches $62.5M deal for SLU parcels

The Seattle Times Co. has a $62.5 million deal with a Canadian high-rise developer to sell two full blocks, the last of its South Lake Union properties.
On Wednesday, the company sold the block at Fairview Avenue North and Denny Way to Vancouver-based Onni Group for $33.5 million, county records showed. Privately held Onni specializes in high-rise residences and could build two mixed-use towers as high as 400 feet on the block.
The company said it also has an agreement to sell Onni the adjacent block north of John Street for $29 million and expects to close in November. That parcel, 1120 John St., was the headquarters of The Seattle Times for eight decades until it moved last year to a nearby building.
“Having owned most of this land for more than 80 years, the Blethen family is nostalgic about the sale, but pleased that a high-quality developer like Onni will add to our dynamic neighborhood,” said Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen in a statement. “The family will use the proceeds to invest in independent journalism and community service, as well as to complete The Seattle Times’ transformation into a multiplatform print and digital media company.”
The deal marks Onni Group’s entry into the Seattle market, said Executive Vice President Chris Evans. The company has offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix and Mexico.
Onni has built commercial and residential projects across North America. Most of its previous residential projects are high-rise towers in major cities. The company also owns and manages 5 million square feet of commercial property and more than 3,800 rental apartment units, according to its website.
The jobs being created by Amazon.com, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other companies in the area made the two-block site attractive for redevelopment, Evans said.
So did the Seattle City Council’s vote in May on rezoning of South Lake Union. By 2031, the neighborhood is expected to absorb some 12,000 households and 22,000 jobs.
On the block at Fairview Avenue and Denny Way, Evans said, zoning rules allow two towers, each up to 400 feet in height under certain conditions. The block, mostly a parking lot now, was previously zoned for residential or commercial buildings up to 125 feet.
He said zoning rules permit two towers up to 240 feet in height on the adjacent block, which is bounded by John Street, Fairview Avenue, Boren Avenue and Thomas Street.
Onni said it’s already met with city staff and plans to file an application within six months.
“We’re excited to try and do what we can to take advantage of the new height limits and the new mixture of uses,” he said. In a neighborhood that “has a significant amount of office space being built already,” he said, a mixed-use project makes sense.
The $62.5 million deal represents the final piece of The Seattle Times Co.’s South Lake Union portfolio. The company still owns a printing-press facility in Bothell. Since 2004, the company has sold several nearby parcels for a total of $84.5 million, including the Troy Laundry block in June 2011 and of 1000 Denny Way in January 2011.
“This was the last big undeveloped parcel in South Lake Union. In some ways it kind of completes the puzzle,” said Steven Wood, managing director of real-estate advisory firm CenturyPacific, which represented The Times in the sales.
Blethen’s statement said the proceeds would help the company make payments on its pension liabilities and investments in transforming the company’s news operations.
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http://www.djc.com/news/re/12055630.html

July 31, 2013

Seattle Times sells land to Onni Group
By JOURNAL STAFF

The Seattle Times said today it has completed the sale of one block and has a non-contingent sale agreement on another block in South Lake Union to a Vancouver, B.C.-based mixed-use developer called Onni Group.

The total price is $62.5 million.

Both properties are bordered by Denny Way on the south, Thomas Street on the north, Fairview Avenue North on the east and Boren Avenue North on the west.

The south block sale closed today. Sale of the former Times headquarters block at 1120 John St. is scheduled to close near the end of the year.

Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen said in a press release that, “Having owned most of this land for more than 80 years, the Blethen family is nostalgic about the sale, but pleased that a high-quality developer like Onni will add to our dynamic neighborhood. The family will use the proceeds to invest in independent journalism and community service, as well as to complete The Seattle Times’ transformation into a multi-platform print and digital media company.”

Onni Group has built more than 8,800 residential units, and owns and manages more than 5 million square feet of commercial property. It recently entered the U.S. market in Los Angeles, Chicago and Phoenix.

This is its first investment in Seattle.

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http://www.djc.com/news/re/12055658.html

August 1, 2013

Onni has big plans for Times blocks

■The Vancouver, B.C., firm wants to build about 2 million square feet, with a mix of high-rise housing, office and retail.

By LYNN PORTER
Journal Staff Reporter

Onni Group of Vancouver, B.C., plans to build upwards of 2 million square feet on two blocks it is buying from The Seattle Times in South Lake Union, said Chris Evans, an executive vice president with the firm.

The property is bounded by Thomas Street, Denny Way, Boren and Fairview, and includes a parking lot and the headquarters building the Times used before it moved to another part of the city.

Evans said Onni is putting together its project team, and will apply within the next six months for city permits to build a mix of high-rise housing, office and retail in phases over a number of years.

“Our hope is to move forward immediately with redevelopment of these properties” once city approvals are in place, he said.

The blocks are across from Amazon.com's headquarters. They total 5 acres and are part of a recent rezone of South Lake Union, said Steven L. Wood, managing director of CenturyPacific, who represented The Times in the sale.

The Denny/Fairview block is zoned for residential development up to 400 feet and commercial development up to 240 feet, he said. The other block is zoned for housing to 240 feet and commercial to 160.

Part of the facade on the former Times' headquarters is a city landmark, he said.

Together the blocks are selling for $62.5 million. The Denny/Fairview property closed yesterday for $33.5 million and the other block is set to close by the end of the year.

Evans said Onni plans to build to the allowed height.

“Our intention is to certainly take advantage of the terrific views that are going to come off this site, both of downtown and of the lake,” he said.

Onni expanded into the United States in 2010, and Evans said it loves the Pacific Northwest. This is the firm's first investment in Seattle.

Evans said Onni sees its South Lake Union project as an “opportunity to be part of a changing neighborhood.”

The firm was attracted by how much it can build on the property and the investments in the South Lake Union area made by Amazon.com, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Vulcan Real Estate.

“It's already is a great neighborhood,” he said. “I think in the coming years it's going to continue to be.”

Wood called The Times' property “two of the greatest blocks in Seattle.”

“This amounts to selling 5 acres in the middle of South Lake Union, which is pretty phenomenal when you think about what's going on down there,” he said.

Greg Inglin, a senior vice president with Colliers International, said the sale is another example of out-of-town investors buying into Seattle because of its strong job growth and liveability.

“People are looking for places they can invest in core properties markets that they believe in long term, and Seattle has a great story,” he said.

The Onni Group has built more than 5,000 homes in the past decade. It also owns and manages 5 million square feet of commercial property and more than 3,800 apartments. Evans said Onni builds a significant amount of concrete high-rise in Vancouver and Toronto, and has its first high-rise under construction in downtown Los Angeles.

The firm also has offices in Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Mexico.


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Developer aims for four towers on Fairview parcels
A Canadian high-rise developer may construct up to 2 million square feet of residential space across the street from Amazon.com’s world headquarters in South Lake Union.

By Sanjay Bhatt
Seattle Times business reporter

A Canadian high-rise developer may construct up to 2 million square feet of residential space across the street from Amazon.com’s world headquarters, taking advantage of new height limits in the South Lake Union area.

In documents filed recently with the city, Vancouver-based Onni Group describes plans to build four residential towers on two full city blocks it is buying from The Seattle Times Co.

City rules allow building heights up to 240 feet on one block and up to 400 feet on another. In residential towers, each floor is typically about 10 feet high.

In July, Onni bought the block at Fairview Avenue North and Denny Way for $33.5 million. The company also is expected to close this month on the adjacent block north of John Street for $29 million.

An Onni executive didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Preliminary site plans call for about two-thirds of each block being developed, with walkways mid-block leading to central, publicly accessible courtyards.

On each block, two residential towers would rise above a “podium” between 45 feet and 65 feet in height. It’s unclear whether the podium will be primarily for retail or other uses. The documents also indicate there will be below-grade parking.

John Street would be lined with retail shops totaling about 18,000 square feet on each block, the documents indicate.

While the site plans don’t say how tall the towers might be, a preliminary application filed with the city says the project “will take advantage of height bonuses through affordable housing,” among other things.

In an interview this summer, Onni Group’s Executive Vice President Chris Evans said the project was his company’s first entry into the Seattle market. Most of Onni’s other residential projects are high-rise towers in major cities.

The preliminary documents don’t give any indication of Onni’s timeline for the project.

Other developers said the mega-project would almost surely be carried out in at least two, if not more, phases.

Via6, a 654-unit development opened last spring on a half block in the Denny Triangle, was one of the largest ever to open in Seattle in a single phase, said Matt Griffin, managing partner of developer Pine Street Group. It consists of two 24-story towers on a podium, Griffin said.
 

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Journeyman
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Edit: I posted something questioning whether zoning allows two 400' towers on one block after the recent rezone for this neighborhood, but I'm likely to be wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
From todays DJC.

http://www.djc.com/news/re/12063427.html

March 18, 2014

Onni plans nearly 2,000 units for Seattle Times blocks
By JOURNAL STAFF

Onni Group wants to build four towers, with 1,950 residential units over a 44,000-square-foot retail podium.

Onni Group of Vancouver B.C. wants to build nearly 2,000 residential units and 44,000 square feet of retail space feet on two South Lake Union blocks it bought from The Seattle Times, according to plans filed with the city.

Plans call for four towers on the two blocks bounded by Thomas Street, Denny Way, Boren and Fairview. The Denny/Fairview block will have two 40-story towers with 1,085 units, and the northern block along Thomas will have two 24-story towers with 865 units. The towers will sit on a ground-floor retail podium with 44,000 square of space, and there will be approximately 1,900 underground parking spaces.

Project documents don't say whether the units will be apartments or condos, and Onni representatives did not return phone calls requesting comment.

The former Times' headquarters is a city historic landmark and will be preserved. Onni plans to turn John Street, which is in between the two blocks of residential towers, into a pedestrian plaza and park. There will be a 33,000-square-foot amenity space along Denny Way. Both blocks will have mid-block pedestrian walkways.

An early design guidance meeting is tentatively set for 6:30 p.m., May 7 at Queen Anne Community Center, 1901 First Ave. W.

Chris Dikeakos Architects Inc. of Vancouver is designing the project, and Eckford Tyacke + Associates Landscape Architecture is the landscape architect.

The blocks are across from Amazon.com's headquarters and close to the company's future 3.3 million-square-foot expansion in the Denny Triangle. They total 5 acres and are part of a recent rezone of South Lake Union. The Denny/Fairview block is zoned for residential development up to 400 feet and commercial development up to 240 feet. The other block is zoned for housing to 240 feet and commercial to 160.

With this project, Onni will become one of the biggest developers in South Lake Union. Onni's towers total 1,950 units, and according to data provided by Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors, developers are planning to open an additional 2,647 units between now and the end of 2017.

Onni Executive Vice President Chris Evans told the DJC last year the project gives Onni an “opportunity to be part of a changing neighborhood.”

The firm was attracted by how much it can build on the property and the investments in the South Lake Union area made by Amazon.com, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Vulcan.

Onni paid $62.5 million for the two blocks last year.

Onni has offices in Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Mexico. It owns and manages more than 4,200 apartments and 5 million square feet of commercial space.

Onni Group wants to build four towers, with 1,950 residential units over a 44,000-square-foot retail podium


Update and first look.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
From the MUP filing:

1120 Denny drawings


1120 Denny
by dr, on Flickr


1120 Denny
by dr, on Flickr


1120 Denny
by dr, on Flickr


1120 Denny
by dr, on Flickr


1120 Denny
by dr, on Flickr


1120 Denny
by dr, on Flickr


1120 Denny
by dr, on Flickr


1120 Denny
by dr, on Flickr

1120 John drawings


1120 John
by dr, on Flickr


1120 John
by dr, on Flickr


1120 John
by dr, on Flickr


1120 John
by dr, on Flickr


1120 John
by dr, on Flickr


1120 John
by dr, on Flickr


1120 John
by dr, on Flickr


1120 John
by dr, on Flickr


1120 John
by dr, on Flickr
 

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SEATTLE | Times Block - 121 Boren Ave. N. | 435ft x 2 | 42 fl x 2 | Pro

A new two tower development at the site of the venerable Seattle Times Building:

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From todays DJC.

http://www.djc.com/news/re/12081077.html

August 27, 2015

Another doozy for South Lake Union: two 42-story towers with 840 units

H5 Capital of Beverly Hills, California, paid $36 million more than four years ago for the property at Denny and Boren.

By JOURNAL STAFF

It's been more than four years since The Seattle Times sold a 248,000-square-foot office building on its South Lake Union campus for $36 million to H5 Capital, a Beverly Hills, California-based commercial real estate firm.

Now the firm is finally stepping forward with a development proposal for the site, and it's another doozy in a neighborhood already brimming with ambitious project plans.

H5 Capital wants to build two 42-story residential towers with 420 units in each, for a total of 840 units. Each tower would have underground parking for 350 vehicles. One tower would have 3,500 square feet of street-level retail.

The site address is 121 Boren Ave. N., and the block is bounded by Boren, Denny Way, John Street and Terry Avenue North. John Street is at the north end of the site, but doesn't cross all the way through the block.

The 86-year-old Seattle Times building would remain, along with a smaller 1960s addition on the southeast corner of the block. Both buildings received seismic retrofits and other substantial improvements in 2003.

A neighboring single-story structure to the north that houses 13 Coins Restaurant would be demolished.

Via Architecture is the designer.

A city design-review board is tentatively scheduled to get its first look at the proposal at 8 p.m. Oct. 7 at Queen Anne Community Center.

Josh Simms, a partner at H5 Capital, wasn't immediately available on Wednesday to comment on the project.

In a document filed with the city, Via Architecture described The Seattle Times building as a character structure that would be retained for commercial use. The Times leases space in the building for its main office.

Early design plans show a pair of slender towers situated on opposite corners of the property, one at the southwest corner and the other at the northeast corner. Both towers would have a maximum floor plate of 10,500 square feet and would be set on 45- to 65-foot podiums.

The towers may have plenty of company. The site is in the middle of a four-block stretch on the north side of Denny Way where as many as 3,268 other apartment units are in the works.

• Mack Urban is planning a 40-story, 420-unit tower on the same block, directly north and west of the H5 site.

• Immediately to the east is Onni Group's four-tower, 1,910-unit project planned for 1120 John St. and 1120 Denny Way.

• To the west is Holland Partner Group's 40-story, 468-unit apartment tower at 970 Denny Way.

• On the next block to the west, Vulcan Real Estate is planning an 18-story, 400,000-square-foot office tower and a 28,000-square-foot commercial structure at 111 Westlake Ave. N. The buildings would share the block with another new Vulcan development: a 41-story, 470-unit residential tower and a 7,000-square-foot retail building at 110 Ninth Ave. N.

All this new development is positioned near Amazon.com's South Lake Union campus and the retail giant's new office towers going up just to the south in the Denny Triangle.


Early design plans show a pair of slender towers situated on opposite corners of the property. The 86-year-old Seattle Times building would remain.





H5 Capital’s towers should have lots of company. The site is in the middle of a four-block stretch on Denny Way where another 3,268 new apartments are in the works.

 
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