Above: Seattle Heights, a high-rise condominium in Belltown, looms over a soon-to-be demolished single story structure at Third & Cedar. Below, view toward the Space Needle from the 7th floor terrace at Seattle Heights.
Seattle's most densely populated neighborhood (that would be Belltown) is about to get even denser with a 298-unit, 27-story residential tower at Third & Cedar Sts. The as-yet-unnamed project will be built as apartments, rather than condominiums. The quarter-bock parcel is occupied by a one story building that housed the Washington Lung Association and will be separated from an existing 26-story condominum building by a narrow alley, creating the city's densest single block.
(A neighborhood of single-famikly homes like, say, Wallingford, has room for up to eight 60-foot building lots between cross streets, or 16 dwelling units per block. The Belltown block, by comparison, will have over 600 dwelling units.)
A spokesman for the Third & Cedar project's general contractor, Andersen Construction, says demolition work will begin next week. Construction, beginning with six levels of underground parking, is expected to take two years.
Construction permits were awarded only after the developer, Wood Partners, scaled back its plans to develop the entire half-block along Third between Vine and Cedar. Wood paid a $239,000 indemnity to the homeowners association of the project's across-the-alley neighbor, the 239-unit, 26-story Seattle Heights condominium, which had claimed the proposal violated a number of zoning restrictions. (Disclosure: I lease a studio at Seattle Heights.) Wood also agreed it would not develop its adjacent, quarter-block property at Third & Vine, site of a Rite Aid store, for at least ten years, and would keep any future development on the Rite Aid site under 85 feet in height. Even so, the new apartment building will have a major impact on northeast views (toward the Space Needle) for many Seattle Heights residents; the photo shows the view from the 7th floor terrace.
The new development comes three months after another residential high rise in the neighborhood, the 26-story Mcguire Apartments, was demolished because of construction flaws. Steve Orser, an executive with that project's developer, Harbor Properties, is now the Seattle-based vice president for Wood Partners, and Harbor itself has been sold to an out-of-state venture of AREA Property Partners and Urban Partners LLC.
The settlement also includes a payment by Wood Partners of $120,000 in Seattle Heights legal fees, and another $150,000 for a "shoring license" and loading bay to protect the alley access to Seattle Heights's parking garage.
Meantime, Harbor Properties has begun renting units in the 15-story Alto Apartments across Third Avenue from the new project, but the half-block McGuire site is currently standing vacant.
NOTE: A slightly abridged version of this report was published today on Crosscut.com