Vulcan reveals plan for six more buildings
South Lake Union project combines office space, retail
By KERY MURAKAMI
Continuing its transformation of the South Lake Union area, Vulcan Inc., Paul Allen's development company, announced Thursday night that it will build six office buildings, bringing more than a million square feet of office space to a six-block area along the new South Lake Union Streetcar line.
The project, which will include two 12-story buildings and will require the Seattle City Council to increase height limits in the area, is expected to be completed by 2011 and will also include 75,000 square feet of boutiques, restaurants and other shops on the buildings' ground floors, said Sharon Coleman, Vulcan's project manager.
It is being done with joint venture partner Schnitzer West.
The first two buildings already have permits and construction is expected to begin in the fall, with the first tenants arriving in 2010. The entire project is scheduled for completion by 2011.
Despite the announcement, Ada Healey, the vice president of real estate for Vulcan, told the Seattle P-I on Thursday night the company is not yet ready to discuss tenants for the development, including the possibility that online retail giant Amazon.com might be seeking to lease, as has been reported.
In June, the Daily Journal of Commerce reported that Amazon was negotiating to lease about 400,000 square feet in the joint project by Vulcan and Bellevue-based Schnitzer West. On Oct. 1, Crosscut, citing sources at Amazon and City Hall, reported the online retailer was "within days" of announcing a move of offices to Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood.
Amazon.com has several thousand employees in three Seattle locations. As of the end of 2006, the company employed 13,900 full- and part-time people.
The announcement came at a meeting at City Hall, where community leaders from South Lake Union and Queen Anne were unveiling their joint vision of neighborhood growth. Their plan calls for concentrating future growth -- even by raising building height limits to allow high rises -- along transit corridors, such as the streetcar line.
Healey said at the meeting that Vulcan's plan "dovetails very nicely" with the community's vision.
In the largely industrial area bordered by Terry and Boren avenues, the new buildings will go up between recently built condominiums and the streetcar line, replacing a mix of parking lots, office buildings and warehouses.
To ensure they don't look alike, Coleman said the project's three phases each will involve a different architectural firm. "We don't want to design something that looks like a suburban strip mall in the middle of South Lake Union," she said.
In the first phase, one building will be built on the full block bordered by Terry and Boren avenues, between Harrison and Republican streets.
A second building will be built on the northeast corner of Terry Avenue and Mercer Street, and will likely hold bigger stores than the others in the project, Coleman said. The buildings will be designed by NBBJ, and will be between four and five stories tall, Coleman said.
The buildings in the second phase also will be four to five stories, and will be built on two sites bordered by Terry and Boren avenues, between Mercer and Republican streets. LMN Architects will design those.
The last two will be between Terry and Boren avenues, between John and Harrison streets. Callison Architecture will design those buildings.
Developers will need council approval to raise height zoning limits for the last two buildings from 65 to 85 feet to 160 feet, or 12 stories. In return, the developers would contribute money toward a citywide affordable housing fund. Additionally, Coleman said the project will include plazas between the buildings allowing pedestrians to cut through midblock.
In September, Microsoft announced that it will move 400 employees into four floors of the Westlake/Terry complex being developed by Vulcan in the area.
The remainder of the new Westlake/Terry property is occupied by Group Health Cooperative, which is co-owner of the complex along with Vulcan. Vulcan representatives would not say who the tenants for the new development would be.
In addition, tracks have been laid in the neighborhood for the South Lake Union Streetcar, which is expected to begin running between South Lake Union and downtown in early December. A 12-acre park also is under construction by the lake.
After the meeting, neighborhood leaders took a wait-and-see attitude, but Steven Paget, chairman of the South Lake Union Families & Neighbors Community Council, was pleased the proposal had elements of the neighborhood vision.
"In an urban center, it's necessary to have height and density to preserve urban space elsewhere," he said.
P-I reporter Kery Murakami can be reached at 206-448-8131 or email@example.com