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SEATTLE-On the heels of three successful residential developments in 2002, Fortune Group will launch four more urban infill residential projects this year, two on Capitol Hill and two near Seattle Center. Company president Mark Raabe tells GlobeSt.com that the two Capitol Hill projects will get under way this summer and the two projects near Seattle Center will get under was in November. The projects’ combined overall cost is $60 million.

The Capitol Hill projects will be at the corner of 15th Avenue and Pine Street, where Fortune acquired a former grocery store property and a surface parking lot across Pine Street. On the north side of Pine Street, Fortune will develop 153 entry-level condominiums that will average 700 sf and sell for an average of $235,000. The $32-million project (including land costs) will rise in two phases, with 89 units in the first phase. On the south side of Pine Street, on the surface parking lot, a 56-unit apartment building will be constructed. That project is estimated at $9 million (including land costs).

Down by Seattle Center’s Pacific Science Center, at Second Avenue and Denny Way, another 126 apartment units are planned for two parcels that sit across an alley from each other. One building will be 79 units and the other 47 units. Each will have a small amount of ground floor commercial space. The buildings will be built concurrently. The total project cost is $19 million (including land costs).

Regarding the condominium project, Raabe says the entry-level market is underserved as a result of a drop in condo development, in part due to construction defect litigation. Those condo developers that remain, and particularly the few that remain in urban areas, are largely focused on higher-end product, says Rabbe, leaving the entry-level market wide open and underserved, especially given the current interest rate environment. “We’ve done research that confirms this,” says Raabe. “I think if we can get product built in a timely fashion we can capture a good percentage of that market.”

As for the apartments, Raabe says he built 209 units in three similar projects last year and all did very well and are now owned by a joint venture of Fortune and Prudential Life Insurance. A similar transaction will occur upon completion of the new apartment projects, says Raabe. “It is true that the rental market is relatively weak, but in-city markets are the strongest part,” says Raabe. “Moreover, it takes at least 18 months to build and we think by that time we will be in a healthier overall apartment market when these are brought to market.”

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