SEATTLE-Demolition of an old parking garage last week launched site work for a new Downtown hotel and condominium tower. The 21-story hotel and condo tower will rise at the southwest corner of First Avenue and Union Street, adjacent to Pike Place Market and across the street from the expanded Seattle Art Museum. Completion is slated for early 2008.

The 310,000-sf building will have 149 hotel rooms below 30 private residences managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Toronto-based Four Seasons managed the Olympic Hotel in Downtown Seattle for 20 years until it was sold to Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in 2003. first reported on Four Seasons would-be return to the market in October 2004.

The developer is the Seattle Hotel Group LLC, whose managing member is John Oppenheimer of Columbia Hospitality Inc. Four Seasons also is a member of the LLC, as are former Mayor Paul Schell; entrepreneur Bruce McCaw; and Tom Alberg, managing director of Madrona Venture Group.

Seattle Hotel Group reportedly considered 22 potential development sites before focusing in on the Heliparker garage, which Wamu purchased in January 2004 for $9.7 million. Seattle Hotel Group tied up the property in the fall of 2004 and closed on the property three months ago for $9.9 million, according to King County property records.

The U-shaped building will surround a courtyard with an infinity lap pool and three outdoor fireplaces for year-round use. The predominant building materials will be glass, oxidized metal, stone and wood. Amenities include a main ballroom, a grand lobby and a large restaurant and bar, all with water views. The condominium units, ranging in price from $2 million to $10 million, will offer sweeping views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. About half of the units have been sold.

The general contractor is Lease Crutcher Lewis and its fine home division, Holyoke. The project designer is NBBJ. BraytonHughes Design Studios is working with NBBJ on the Hotel interiors. Susan Marinello Interiors of Seattle is in charge of the interiors of the residences. Carrie DeBuys of John L. Scott is the exclusive listing agent for the residences.

The project manager is Tony Puma, who was the project manager for Safeco Field and Key Arena. Puma is working with the Seattle Hotel Group’s representative, Paul Zumwalt, who led the development of the Experience Music Project at Seattle Center and Rose Garden Arena in Portland, OR.