‘Sellers’ market’ — The Ford Building, home to Elliott Bay Book Company, up for sale

Elliott Bay Book Company (Image: CHS)

Elliott Bay Book Company (Image: CHS)

With its neighbor already on the block for a potential sale, another centerpiece of Pike/Pine auto row preservation, culture, and arts is having its tires kicked by prospective buyers.

Word spread Wednesday that the Ford Building, the 97-year-old former auto row warehouse now home to Elliott Bay Book Company, the Little Oddfellows cafe, and upscale fashion retailer Totokaelo has been put on the market touting its “100% leased” status, its place as a “prime Capitol Hill retail creative space,” and its hosting of an “iconic master tenant” —

Jones Lang LaSalle is pleased to present the opportunity to acquire a 100% fee simple interest in the The Ford Building (“The Property”), a one-story building with two street level retail spaces, located in Seattle’s historic Capitol Hill submarket. The property’s location is walking distance to the city’s Central Business District, and a plethora of city destinations, including dining, retail, medical, professional, public transportation, Seattle Central Community College, Seattle University, the Northwest School, and Cal Anderson Park. The property has easy access to convenient transit and commuter options, only 1 block from the Capitol Hill Street Car stop and 2 blocks from the Light Rail station.

“This offering represents a unique opportunity to invest in a 100% leased property with a stable retail income stream and future development potential located in one of Seattle’s hottest and growing neighborhoods,” the pitch from the Jones Lang LaSalle real estate firm concludes.

If and when it is redeveloped, the building is eligible for Pike/Pine’s preservation incentives which provide potentially lucrative extra height and bulk bonuses for saving building facades of character structures.

Development opportunity aside, current owner Capitol Hill developer Hunters Capital says the building’s existing tenants are one of its greatest assets.

“We have thought long and hard about selling one of our buildings,” Hunters chief operating officer Jill Cronauer tells CHS. “We add value to properties and feel we have maximized the improvements in the Ford Building through restoration and implementing long term leases with strong retail tenants. It’s a strong sellers’ market and we would like to take the capital and reinvest in another property where there is room to add value.” Continue reading

Would a Vancouver-style tax on empty houses help Seattle?

Anyone hoping to flee a Trump administration by moving to Vancouver should be prepared for some sticker shock. As expensive as housing is in Seattle, Vancouver, B.C. is the most expensive market in North America.

Much like City Hall here, Vancouver has been searching for policies to try and moderate the increases, and in November, the city council there implemented its latest attempt, a tax on vacant homes.

Vancouver will impose a 1% tax on vacant properties based on the value of the home. There are some exceptions for people who might be traveling, having medical problems, or at least trying to rent or sell their home. Properties are vacant if there’s no one living there for at least half of the year. Renting it out will allow the owner to avoid the tax, but the rentals must be for at least 30 days at a time basically precluding Airbnb-style weekend rentals.

Would the plan work in Seattle? Continue reading

Buy, sell, or trade: Odd Fellows building hits market

(Image: Westlake Associates)

Odd Fellows gets the glamour shot treatment (Image: Westlake Associates)

The 1908-built building that embodies pretty much everything — good and bad and in between — that Pike/Pine has become is for sale.

The Odd Fellows building at the corner of 10th and Pine and home to restaurants, retailers, and a rather popular ice cream shop hit the market mid-October. The price? A cool $30 million.

But this isn’t your typical $30,000,000 Capitol Hill building sale.

Brian Bergman, principal and managing broker at Westlake Associates, tells CHS the six-person partnership that owns the building have completed a refinancing of the property and “are now exploring other opportunities, including exchanging into a different asset class.” Continue reading

What kind of house $15 million will get you on Capitol Hill

In a neighborhood where the average property is now worth $1 million, one of Capitol Hill’s newest listings is setting a highwater mark for real estate prices across the city.

This weekend’s $15 million listing of the Samuel Hill mansion at 814 E Highland is now the most expensive “single family home” for sale in Seattle:

ESCAPE THE ORDINARY ~ Noted Sam Hill Mansion commissioned in 1910. A peerless and creative collaboration of passion & brilliance. Located on one of Seattle’s most beautiful tree-lined streets in the stately Harvard-Belmont Historic Landmark District. Reminiscent of a true Manhattan Brownstone. Dramatic in form & contemporary in style, this sophisticated & chic residence frames unobstructed views of Lake Union, Olympic Mts & Puget Sound. Stunning rooftop terrace with two fireplaces & spa. Iconic!

Continue reading

Big apartment company grabs another Capitol Hill building

Chicago-based Equity Residential is quadrupling down on Capitol Hill with yet another apartment building acquisition.

A $25.9 million purchase of the Packard Building at 12th and Pine now puts the company’s total outlay across the Hill at nearly $106 million. The transaction, first reported by the Puget Sound Business Journal earlier this week, puts Equity in control of 270 apartment units across three Capitol Hill buildings.

It is planning to hold at least another 140 after acquiring the Piecora’s property for $10.3 million in the spring of 2014 and moving forward on a planned six-story development that includes parking for 140 cars at E Madison and 14th. A design review for the project slated for last month was abruptly canceled. Continue reading

On Capitol Hill corner ripe for development, cash-strapped assisted living home will close


(Image: Travis Peterson, courtesy of Ewing and Clark)

A dementia care home on Capitol Hill is preparing to close after the facility’s nonprofit owner announced Wednesday it was selling the 17th and E Madison property likely to be coveted by developers despite its possible landmark status.

Since it was opened by Full Life Care in 2004, the Gaffney House has served hundreds of Alzheimer and dementia clients in a rare, small-scale assisted living setting. Full Life executive director Nora Gibson told CHS the organization was forced to put the 1605 17th Ave house up for sale when it lost its loan on the property. Continue reading

Done deal: Vulcan pays $30.9M for 6 acres at 23rd and Jackson

Earlier this month, Vulcan began the process of community outreach as it moved forward with plans for a 570-unit, mixed-use development on the southeast corner of 23rd and Jackson. Wednesday, it sealed the deal.

The Seattle real estate giant announced it has paid $30,900,000 to acquire the Promenade 23 shopping center and the commercial area surrounding Starbucks across the street.

“We are excited to introduce housing to this very prominent intersection in the Central Area,” said Ada M. Healey, vice president of real estate for Vulcan said in the announcement. “We care greatly about preserving the authentic characteristics of the neighborhood while developing a project that that aligns with the community’s priorities.”

Vulcan is planning for the review process to wrap up by September with construction starting by June of 2017. Construction is expected to last about two years. The June timing would put the project into motion around the planned groundbreaking of the second phase of the 23rd Ave corridor improvements currently causing smaller merchants headaches around 23rd and Cherry. Jackson, meanwhile, has also been envisioned for pedestrian and safety improvements.

The company said it is not currently planning to redevelop the parcel on the north side of Jackson where Starbucks and Walgreens are part of a cluster of big-chain commercial businesses.

In its announcement, Vulcan said it plans to utilize Seattle’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption program, “reserving 20 percent of the project’s units for workforce housing with a range of price points starting at 65 percent of Area Median Income.” Under the program, developers receive an up-to-12-year break on property taxes on their buildings — but not the land. The results mean under-market rents should be maintained for at least 12 years. A developer may leave the program after notifying the city but assumes “responsibility for any additional taxes, interest, and penalty imposed pursuant to State law.”

The deal represents a nice flip for Weingarten Realty — it acquired the property about five years ago for $18.4 million.

UPDATE: The acquisition also treads atop a history of failed ambitions at the corner:

Aspirations for the Promenade 23 shopping center at 23rd and Jackson once included a two-block development complete with sky bridge. This vision was lead by a young Jimmy Sumler, who owned the property along with his father in the 50s and 60s, according to George Staggers of the Central Area Development Association (CADA). Today, the shopping center may not have a sky bridge, but it is an economic hub of the Central District. It is also on the verge of being sold to Weingarten Realty Investors, a large real estate investment trust based out of Houston, Texas.

Neighborhood development watchers, meanwhile, also have their eyes on Midtown Center at 23rd and Union where a deal is expected to be announced soon.

The full announcement is below. Continue reading

5 most expensive Capitol Hill house and condo sales in 2015

Step inside this Harvard and Highland home -- the most expensive condo sold on Capitol Hill in 2015 according to Estately (Image: NWMLS / Coldwell Banker Bain)

Step inside this Harvard and Highland home — the most expensive condo sold on Capitol Hill in 2015 according to Estately (Image: NWMLS / Coldwell Banker Bain)

2016 is set up to be a year of progress for Seattle as the city puts initiatives in place to make it more affordable to more people. But most of your reading this will never be able to afford to buy here. Instead, our annual uncorking of the year that was in expensive house and condo sales is mostly real estate porn. Go ahead and look. It’s safe for work.

While big apartment buildings have been hot targets for Capitol Hill real estate deals, single family homes, condominiums, and townhouses also turned in a strong year for investors. According to Zillow, Capitol Hill home prices were up 16.9% over the past year and are forecasted to rise another 7 points in 2016. Below, thanks to real estate site Estately, we’ve listed the most-expensive sales of the year for houses and condos — you get two bonus “condo” listings thanks to two townhouses in the mix. As in 2014, the caveat remains that some of the biggest sales can sometimes be dropped out of the databases by the real estate industry’s magic powers(tm). If you know of something that should have made the list, let us know.


  1. (Image: NWMLS / Windermere )

    (Image: NWMLS / Windermere )

    $2,800,000 — 1105 Boylston Ave E — June: “Outstanding mansion quality residence in a private gated setting. Meticulously remodeled and updated, grand formals w/exquisite millwork. Piano sized living room w/fireplace, elegant dinning room & handsome den on main. Terrace off of gourmet kitchen. 4 beds on 2nd level including spectacular master suite w/dressing room & elegant bath. Spacious 3rd floor w/home office, family room & guest suite. Lower level media room, billiards room & wine cellar. Lush, rolling lawns & gardens.” — Info and pictures Continue reading

19th and Mercer building sells for $25.1M


The developer that turned the old Holiday Craft Store property into the fancy pants 19th and Mercer mixed-use development has turned his initial $1.85 million investment into a $25 million check.

Joel Aslanian of Merriwether Partners has sold the property home to 50 apartments above Linda Derschang joint Tallulah’s as well as Cone and Steiner, The Herbalist, and Hello Robin cookies for $25.1 million, according to King County records.

The buyer is a real estate investment group out of Tacoma, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports. The PSBJ notes the swank Capitol Hill property came at a premium due to the 6,200 square feet of retail in the development project.

The sale comes just two years after the four-story building completed construction and opened with Derschang’s Tallulah’s as its centerpiece in late 2013 and ushered in a new wave of development activity on this sleepy side of Capitol Hill.  Lake Union Partners, who helped shape the retail mix at 19th and Mercer, is now developing two corners of the blocks at 23rd and Union. Meanwhile, more development is moving forward on 19th Ave E on the northwest corner at Mercer.

While the additional commercial space helped boost the price, the project’s success likely also owes some of itself to the 19th Ave neighborhood it has risen in with its eclectic mix of independent retail, educational facilities, health care, apartments, and early 20th century, single-family homes. The fully-leased building’s $1,300 per month and up rents probably didn’t hurt.

Capitol Hill area average property values near $1 million after biggest hike in a decade

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 4.14.42 PM

(Source: King County Assesor)

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone house hunting on Capitol Hill that it is still very much a seller’s market. Property values on Capitol Hill have gone up 15% this year — the largest single percentage jump in at least a decade, according to data from the King County Assessor’s office.

On north Capitol Hill, the average property value (includes land and structures) reached $976,400 in 2015. The “Capitol Hill” area as defined by the assessor is roughly bound by Roy St up to the Montlake Cut, and Interlaken Park to I-5.

In the “Central Area,” which includes a good chunk of Capitol Hill, average property values rose 14% in 2015 to $516,800. The area is roughly located south of Roy St to I-90 and west east of I-5 to 32nd Ave. Continue reading