Striking Deals, Breaking Ground in the Emerald City

By Alex Girda, Associate Editor Seattle has been buzzing with activity in the past week, and it’s not just due to the coffee. Real estate deals have been closing and the city has adopted some new zoning requirements that could pave [...]

Seattle has been buzzing with activity in the past week, and it’s not just due to the coffee. Real estate deals have been closing and the city has adopted some new zoning requirements that could pave the way for more.

Local investor Hal Real Estate Investments Seattle struck a home run with the biggest office deal of the year so far in the Puget Sound area, selling its Plaza at Yarrow Bay office campus for $100.2 million. The new owner of the property is Los Angeles-based Kilroy Realty Corp. The campus has 276,000 square feet of space and includes four buildings plus an additional 80,000 square feet available for development. The transaction can’t rival the top deals of 2010, but analysts from Kidder Matthews, which handled the building’s leasing for the past 13 years, believe the value of the deal is encouraging for future ventures in the sector.

Another big real estate sale this past week was made by Wesbild Holdings of Vancouver, with the firm giving possession of a major property to MEPT Westwood Village L.L.C. The deal, worth $78.1 million, was for Westwood Town Center, a shopping center at 2600 S.W. Barton St. in West Seattle.

New zoning guidelines, approved this past week, will expand possibilities for future projects. Targeting neighborhoods south of downtown, the guidelines allow for taller buildings and an increased proportion of residential development in Pioneer Square, Chinatown, Japantown, Little Saigon and the Stadium District. The changes are interesting but won’t be producing immediate results, as several developments underway fall under the old guidelines and in fact have already modified characteristics to fit those guidelines.

Downtown, the first new development in awhile is set to break ground in early May. Pine Street Group L.L.C. will build a twin-tower, 654-unit apartment complex, a move that is essential for an area that hasn’t seen new construction since the start of the market drop. The $200 million project is needed, as demand has been increasing for Puget Sound-area apartments; the developer, hoping to attract Amazon and Gates Foundation employees and confident that the recent upward shift in the Seattle job market is a strong enough sign that things are improving, is seeking no outside funding.

Nonetheless, it will definitely be an interesting task making sure all of the more than 600 apartments are leased after the expected spring 2013 opening.