Lengthy-Time period Optimism Prevails for Seattle’s College District

Long-Term Optimism Prevails for Seattle’s University District

SEATTLE – University District Parking Associates Inc. has selected Seattle-based commercial real estate company Touchstone and Atlanta-based real estate development company Portman Holdings to initially redevelop parking spaces in the University District in 2019. The companies are now working on the mixed building with two buildings. Use the project in the university district.

Construction work on the Chapter Buildings and Brooklyn Cut is expected to begin in 2021. The project is expected to be completed in 2023. The new development is located in a block of the future Sound Transit light rail station, which will open in autumn 2021.

"As a longtime business owner, I have seen the University District neighborhood change many times over the years," said Don Schulze, president of the University District Parking Associates. "While times are difficult now, we are long-term optimistic about this neighborhood and confident that Touchstone and Portman Holdings are the right development partners for this important project."

Chapter Buildings' mixed-use development located at 4530 12th Ave. NE (Building I) and 4536 Brooklyn Ave. NE (Building II) also has a pedestrian link in the middle of the block and a public open space called the Brooklyn Cut. Chapter Buildings is the first opportunity for office employers to locate adjacent to the University of Washington.

"We are excited to drive this transit-oriented office and retail project in the Seattle University District," said Pat Callahan, CEO of Touchstone. "The neighborhood light rail opening will change. At Urban Renaissance Group / Touchstone, we are long-term optimistic about the need for transit-oriented jobs in strong neighborhoods."

Chapter Buildings I will be 12 stories high and include 240,000 square feet of office space, 8,800 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, and two and a half levels of underground parking (200 stalls). Building II will have 10 floors and will include 156,000 square meters of office space, 4,000 square meters of retail space and two levels (85 stalls) of underground parking spaces.

“The Chapter Buildings name marks an exciting time for the U District. It's confident and balances the science nod with a new chapter for the U District and Seattle work, "said Joe Polito, vice president of development at Touchstone. "A project of this type and scale is the first of its kind in the university district."

Both buildings will be built according to the LEED Gold and Fitwel certification standards of the US Green Building Council. Both buildings consist of masonry and a glass facade and have lobbies with collaborative work areas and lounge areas with designs inspired by hospitality, on-site fitness facilities, bicycle storage facilities, service centers as well as showers and lockers. The outdoor areas and views of the buildings provide tenants with areas for meetings or relaxation.

"The Chapter Buildings offer companies a unique and compelling opportunity to locate right next to one of the best public universities in the country," Callahan told GlobeSt.com. "In addition to the convenience of the buildings, access to the existing amenities of the neighborhood, and just one block from the light rail station, this project offers the best prospects for recruiting and retaining top talent."

The Brooklyn Cut will have 8,000 square feet of private, publicly accessible space in the neighborhood, spanning a connection between 12th Avenue and Brooklyn Avenue NE in the middle of the block. The Brooklyn Cut neighborhood's open space is intended for everyday use by residents of the building and neighborhood, as well as for special community events. The open space has traditional parking hours.

As the effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the world, the Chapter Buildings have been designed with new levels of health, safety and wellbeing in mind. With large open floor plans of up to 30,000 square meters with operable windows, roof terraces and minimal pillars, the Chapter Buildings offer functional and clean work areas in which tenants can control the climate, air quality and humidity of individual rooms.

The special highlights include Sensible Cooling Units and the Dedicated Outdoor Air System / DOAS, which continuously circulates 100% fresh outside air via the HVAC system. In addition, the project team is pursuing design features that enable a completely contact-free experience from building entrance to elevator use, washroom design and the navigation of signage in public areas and work areas.

Key members of the Chapter Buildings and Brooklyn Cut project team include Touchstone and Portman Holdings (developers), Urban Renaissance Group (property manager), Portman Architects (design architect), CollinsWoerman (local architect / interior designer), GGLO (landscape designer) and Lease Crutcher Lewis ( General contractor). Other team members include Greg Inglin from Colliers International, David Abbott and Laura Ford (Leasing), DCI (Civil Engineer), CPL (Civil Engineer), MacDonald Miller (Mechanical Engineer), Sequoya (Electrical Engineer) and Fuzzco (Branding).

In addition to these projects, Touchstone and its parent company Urban Renaissance Group currently have several active projects including the Canvas at Press Blocks office project (150,000 square feet) and the Press Blocks residential tower (337 units) in Portland. OR. Other new developments completed this cycle include Troy Block (810,000 square feet), Hill7 (285,000 square feet), NorthEdge (210,000 square feet), Tilt49 (290,000 square feet), and hospitality projects such as the Hilton Garden Inn (222 keys) and Everett Courtyard by Marriott (156 keys) , Issaquah SpringHill Suites by Marriott (145 keys), Thompson Seattle (148 keys), and Sage Lodge (50 keys).

Portman's current projects include CODA Tech Square, the Georgia Tech-anchored shared office building, and the bespoke Anthem Technology Center in Midtown Atlanta. Other active projects include a new 700 key Hyatt Regency hotel in Salt Lake City, 2151 Hawkins in Charlotte (275,000 square feet), 1020 Spring St in Atlanta (375 residential units and 575,000 square feet of office space) and Union Tower West in Denver (200,000 square feet) as well as several other projects.

Two important long-term factors to consider for the Seattle office market are the statewide economic impact attributable to both job loss and job growth, as well as the long-term trend for certain companies, the Work From Home -Trend to accept, according to a second quarter office report from Kidder Mathews.

The Puget Sound Economic Forecaster forecasts a 7.2% decline in employment in the second half of 2020, but projects a positive 4% increase in employment in 2021, suggesting that the employment picture will improve. Another economic consideration that has mitigated some of the effects of the pandemic is that many office firms have been given loan capital for the paycheck protection program to keep the businesses going.


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