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Super green Pike/Pine development unveils giant ‘Amaterasu’ mural, change from condo plans

The work, titled Amaterasu, peers over 13th Ave (Image: CHS)

It’s too early — and not enough is known — to call Capitol Hill’s spurt of condominium development over but a high profile project appears to be a sign that rent is still king in Pike/Pine.

If its quest for sustainability wasn’t enough, the giant, colorful, north-facing mural from “urban artist” Fin DAC has drawn plenty of attention to the nearly complete Solis development at 13th and Pike. But the project on a quest to be Capitol Hill’s — and Seattle’s –first Passive House-certified mixed-use project won’t come to market as condos as had been planned.

In an announcement, the developer announced the 45-unit building “will be retained by SolTerra’s investment group as an apartment community.”

“Presale buyers and reservation holders have been notified of the owner’s new direction and earnest money and reservations deposits will be fully refunded,” the announcement reads. “Those still interested in residing at SOLIS as a tenant will be provided a preferred opportunity to lease in the community.”

“Building to both Passive House and luxury condominium standards requires higher construction costs and results in an exceptional building that will appreciate,” Marc Coluccio, Chief Operating Officer for SolTerra, said in the statement. “We believe that holding the project as an apartment will offer the best long-term value for our stakeholders.”

In a call with CHS, Coluccio declined to say more about the decision to back off the condo sales at this time.

CHS reported on the $4.6 million acquisition of the project by the developer in the summer of 2018. In the deal, SolTerra acquired the former Fran’s Chocolates building and a 2016-approved plan to build the Passive House-certified mixed-use project at 13th and Pike. At the time, the deal put the project on track to be the first new condo building to open on Capitol Hill in years.

But a new ripple would emerge in following weeks as signs of developments and properties lining up conversions to condo sales began to emerge — including the now open and for sale units in the Edison at 12th and John.

CHS hasn’t dug into the publicly available sale details for the properties related to the most recent condo wave so we don’t know much about how the units are selling and being valued. In its announcement, SolTerra also made it pretty clear, noting “robust demand for apartment housing with Seattle rents on the rise again.”

According to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau, the median rents were highest in Seattle amongst the 50 most populous US cities—only renters in San Jose, San Francisco, and San Diego pay more. Zillow reported Seattle’s median rental price in June 2019 was up 3.3 percent year-over-year, to $2,569. Meanwhile, the housing market data firm of RealPage notes the apartment pipeline declined 19 percent in June 2019 compared with the year earlier.

It’s clear that the project’s owners, at least, believe the neighborhood’s rental market is the more lucrative direction.


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