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From todays DJC.

October 24, 2014

2nd & Virginia tower will start as condos, but could be apartments

Journal Staff Reporter

Continental Properties will start construction early next year on a 34-story tower at Second Avenue and Virginia Street in downtown Seattle that will be built as condos.

But the units could be switched to apartments during construction if the rental market remains strong.

Continental President Claudio Guincher said the decision will be made by the end of 2015. If they are condos, marketing will start then. If they are apartments, marketing will start in 2016.

“They're both good options and we're going to wait and read the market — both the condominium market and the rental market — in a year from now instead of making the decision now,” he said.

This unusual move is the result of downtown Seattle's unusually strong apartment market. Building after building is filling up, and rents are rising.

Guincher said that over the last 25 years, developers typically have made more money on condos than apartments. But demand now for renting and selling Seattle apartment buildings is so strong that developers can make almost as much with apartments as with condos — with potentially less risk, he said.

Continental's tower will have 314 units, and is expected to open in early 2017. It was designed by Weber Thompson and will be built by PCL Construction Services.

MulvannyG2 Architecture is doing construction drawings and construction administration.

Also on the team are: Sechrist Design Associates, interior designer; Cary Kopczynski & Co., structural engineer; Pace Engineers, civil; Rushing Co., mechanical, electrical and plumbing; Morrison Hershfield, building envelope; and Thomas Rengstorf & Associates, landscape architect.

It will have a rooftop deck with barbecues, fire-pits and views of Elliott Bay. A gym with sauna and hot tub, as well as a lounge and library will also be on the top floor.

On the sixth floor will be a theater, conference room and outdoor deck with barbecues, a fire-pit and water feature. The ground floor will have 7,000 square feet of retail space, as well as a concierge, seating, fireplace and water feature.

Parking will total 325 stalls, with half above and half below ground.

HSBC Bank is providing construction financing. Guincher declined to name his equity partners in the project and to provide the project cost.

Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors said the average rent for downtown Seattle/Belltown/South Lake Union is $1,906. That's up 9.5 percent from a year ago. Part of that increase is due to the opening of new properties, which typically rent for more. Excluding the new units, rents rose 7.9 percent.

The vacancy rate is 3.7 percent, excluding new units that are still in initial lease-up. If you count those, the vacancy rate is 8.3 percent, up from 6.7 percent a year ago.

Dupre + Scott said it expects rents will keep rising but at a significantly slower rate, and vacancies will climb between now and the end of 2015 because developers will open another 2,260 market-rate units in that time.

Guincher said a switch to apartments on the Second and Virginia project would just require minor tweaks to appliances and finishings.

Bellevue-based Continental has built a number of condo and apartment projects in and around downtown Seattle. Continental and an affiliate of Deutsche Bank developed The Cosmopolitan, a 34-story, 250-unit condo building downtown. When those units went on the market in 2005, buyers signed 204 purchase-and-sale agreements on the first weekend.

Continental built a number of other condo projects here in that boom from 2005 to 2007, but got out before that market crashed.

The company is now working on two apartment projects in Seattle, and recently sold two others. It's also developing the 117-unit VIK Condominiums in Ballard.

Guincher said downtown Seattle's condo market is “emerging and recovering,” but so far most people are opting to rent. Younger people hired by tech firms such as Amazon want the flexibility and mobility of renting, he said.

However, he said, there's still a segment of people who want condos. Guincher said some developers have shied away from condos because of the potential for construction claims and because it's difficult to get construction financing.

But even given the risk, he said, condos can be profitable.

“I think there's a market (in downtown Seattle),” he said. “I just think it's a much smaller market than in 2005-2006. But there's much less supply.”

The Mark Co., a San Francisco-based marketing and sales firm, recently said there are about 181 never-sold units available in downtown Seattle.

The sale prices for new condos downtown rose 2 percent in September over the previous month, The Mark Co. said. However, sale prices are down 8 percent from this year's peak in May, when new 10th floor, 1,000-square-foot condos went for an average of $775 per square foot.

If Continental decides to stick with condos downtown, it will have some competition — but not much.

Burnaby, B.C.-based Bosa Development is building two 41-story condo towers, with a total of 707 units. The project, called Insignia, is on Sixth Avenue between Battery and Bell streets. The developer said yesterday that almost 200 of the condos have sold.

Another developer recently jumped into the condo market downtown. The North American affiliate of a Chinese company called TeamRise bought a site this month in Belltown near Insignia. TeamRise plans two condo buildings at 2302-2316 Fourth Ave.: one 24 or 25 stories and one six- to eight stories.

Lowe Enterprises Investors is due to break ground this fall on a 169-unit condo tower on First Hill called Luma. And RBF Property Group, based in Guangzhou, China, plans a 42-story tower at 1121 Stewart St. that will have a 78-room hotel topped by 95 condos.

Guincher said Continental's project at the northwest corner of Second and Virginia can be brought to market quicker than other projects in the pipeline downtown because the site it bought in March came with a master-use permit.

He said the site is in a prime location near Pike Place Market, the downtown retail core and entertainment, and within walking distance of Amazon's future headquarters.

Continental Properties’ 34-story tower will have 314 units, and is expected to open in early 2017. It was designed by Weber Thompson and will be built by PCL Construction Services.

Another 440' tower starting soon!

15,932 Posts
A sizeable fring of of the north edges of Downtown has similar 400' (440') height limits. There's also a 500' (550') zone and an unlimited zone which still has FAR limits.

On one hand, if we build two dozen 440' residential towers I won't complain. On the other hand, they all go to the full height because the demand is there. I bet many would go substantially taller if they could. We'd be a better city for's not that skyline is that important, but density sure is, from an urbanity, affordability, commute, and environmental standpoint.

But Seattle penalizes developers for height, so any added height would come at a high price. For example, the 440' stuff is mostly former 240' zones, and that top 200' comes at a fee of something like $29 per square foot. Going tall is expensive to begin with, and that makes it substantially more so. Outside a really hot market some develpers still build under the old height because of it. In zones that went from 65' to 240' like South Lake Union, the housing is still all woodframe so far, though highrise plans are brewing since it's a hot neighborhood and land is getting expensive.

8,025 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Starts today!

Continental Properties will break ground Friday on a 34-story apartment project in downtown Seattle at the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Virginia Street, said Claudio Guincher, the head of the Bellevue company.
The project, called Tower 12 Apartments, will have a total of 314 units, ranging from 44 studios to 12 penthouses. Just over 200 of the apartments will be one-bedrooms and one-bedrooms plus dens.
Tower 12 is the latest apartment project coming to the area by Pike Place Market. One high-rise and one mid-rise project are under construction, and a 39-story tower is set to break ground early this summer. Meanwhile, another high-rise is in the early stages of the city's approval process. Together, these developments – along with a recently completed tower– have a around 1,625 units.
Continental Properties was considering building Tower 12 as a condo project.
"I’m seeing apartment [buildings] selling for the same or more per foot than condos, with less risk," Guincher said, explaining why he's going the for-rent route.
Guincher said Tower 12 is "uniquely oriented to take advantage of views in all directions." Amenities on the 34th floor include an outdoor terrace with sitting areas and barbecues, a resident lounge, library, game room and exercise facility. There will be a media center, conference room and outdoor fireplace and barbecue area on the sixth floor. Tower 12 will have 325 parking stalls, "a luxurious and inviting lobby," Guincher said, and around 7,000 square feet of retail space.
Guincher declined to say how much Tower 12 will cost to develop. Continental Properties a year ago paid $16 million for the site, which is currently a quarter block surface parking lot. Continental is using private equity from Canada to finance the project, and has obtained construction financing from Wells Fargo.
Weber Thompson and MulvannyG2 are the design architect and architect of records, respectively, and PCL Construction is the general contractor. Greystar has been hired to manage the property upon completion.

8,025 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
From todays DJC.

March 27, 2015

Continental starts Belltown apartments named for 12th Man

Continental Properties will break ground today on a 34-story apartment tower on the northwest corner of Second and Virginia.

Tower 12 Apartments will have 314 units about two blocks from the Pike Place Market. Most of the units will have one bedroom, but there will be 53 two-bedroom units and 12 penthouses. The average size of standard units is 825 square feet, and penthouses average 1,476 square feet.

Claudio Guincher, head of the Bellevue-based company, said the building will take about 25 months to build and is expected to open in April 2017.

The building will have 325 parking spaces above and below ground. Plans call for 7,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

Weber Thompson is the design architect, and MulvannyG2 Architects is the architect of record. PCL Construction Services is the general contractor.

Other team members are Greystar, property manager; Thomas Rengstorf & Associates, landscape architect; Cary Kopczynski & Co., structural engineer; Pace Engineers, civil engineer; Rushing Co., mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer; Terracon, geotechnical and shoring engineer; Sechrist Design Associates, interior designer; and Morrison Hershfield, building envelope.

Continental Properties is funding the project through Canadian private equity and a construction loan from Wells Fargo.

The 34th floor will have a lounge, library, game room, gym and outdoor terrace overlooking Puget Sound with sitting areas and barbecues. The sixth floor will have a media center, conference room, outdoor fireplaces and barbecues.

Guincher's team picked the name Tower 12 as a nod to the 12th Man as a growing symbol of civic pride around Seattle that transcends football.

Guincher told the DJC last year that he planned to start the units as condos, but would make a final decision later. Guincher said Thursday that he chose to build apartments because the rental market is more lucrative than condos right now.

“You have the ability to sell at a higher value and with lower risk (than condos), and that just made the decision very simple,” he said.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
55,632 Posts

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
55,632 Posts

The project has reached grade level and as you can see the garage entrance ramp on the alley side is ready to pour. Take note at how steep that ramp is! Wow that's going to be interesting...

The covered walkway is also up and has little windows for passers by to peek into the project. Nice touch!

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