SEATTLE-Unico Properties is seeking approvals to develop a six-story mixed-use development near the University of Washington. The locally based real estate company has optioned a 16,500-sf parking lot at Northeast 42nd Street and University Way for the estimated $15-million project. The property is owned by the Wesley Foundation. Unico VP of development Pat McCabe tells the company has optioned the site and plans to ink a 90-year ground lease and gain the necessary approvals from the city by June 2005. McCabe declined to discuss the purchase price, but it is expected to be somewhere between $100 and $120 per sf, which is the going rate for commercially zoned land with a 65-ft height limit.Preliminary plans call for three floors of apartments over three floors of office and retail space. All told, there would be 48 apartment units, about 15,000 sf of office space and about 10,000 sf of retail. Design and permitting is expected to be complete by June 2005. Construction is expected to begin in July 2005 and be complete by August 2006. GGLO is the architect. McCabe says the project will either be wood frame or steel, depending on where steel prices are at when they are looking. If steel prices stay where they’re at, they’ll likely build with wood. If the price falls back a bit, they would consider a steel frame. The latter option would provide more structural capacity, providing more design flexibility and a greater number of exterior cladding options.This is the first ground-up multifamily development undertaken by Unico, which is in the process of diversifying its portfolio as it comes into the final 10 years of its partnership with the University of Washington for the operation and management of six blocks of prime real estate in the heart of Downtown Seattle known as the Metropolitan Tract. Buildings on the tract include Rainier Tower, Puget Sound Plaza, Financial Center, IBM Building, the Skinner Building, and the Cobb Building, which Unico is now converting from office to residential. With its partnership with the University set to expire in 2014 if it is not extended, Unico has been making its own investments to ensure itself a future. Its own investments include the 1.1-million-sf US Bancorp Tower in Downtown Portland, OR; five assets in Bellevue, WA, including the 408,000-sf Skyline Tower; five assets in Renton, WA, including 400,000-sf One, Two and Three Renton Place office complex; the 300,000-sf Wells Fargo Plaza in Tacoma, WA; the 256,000-sf US Bank Plaza in Boise, ID; and the 400,000-sf 100 Pine Street building in San Francisco. It owns no office properties in Downtown Seattle due to its non-compete clause with the University.

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