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February 6, 2017

Alley appeal dropped, Skanska's 2+U tower now cleared to start

By BRIAN MILLER
Journal Staff reporter

Image by Pickard Chilton Architects [enlarge]
2+U will have 665,000 of offices above 24,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

An owner of 1201 Third Ave. has dropped its appeal to the city hearing examiner over the planned 38-story 2+U tower at 1201 Second Ave.

The city's order of dismissal is dated Jan. 20. The developer of 2+U, Skanska USA Commercial Development, announced last week that it now has permits to begin the project.

Designed by New Haven-based Pickard Chilton Architects, 2+U will occupy about three quarters of the block bounded by First and Second avenues and University and Seneca streets. Skanska has a 99-year ground lease with the Samis Foundation, which owns most of the site. The building will have about 665,000 of office space above 24,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. About 30,000 square feet of open space, including stairs and plazas, will be open to the public.

In December, Skanska received preliminary city approval for a partial alley vacation between University and Seneca, allowing for extra retail space and pedestrian amenities at street level. However, a subsequent appeal to the hearing examiner by Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., one of 1201 Third's owners, delayed the city's final approval for of the alley vacation.

MetLife raised concerns about westbound traffic on Seneca and the loss of the 2+U alley as a “pressure valve.” Cars exiting 1201 Third's garage on Seneca, said MetLife, are often unable to turn left on Second because of eastbound traffic congestion. The 2+U alley allowed those motorists to circle back to University and make a right on Second.

MetLife also complained that 1201 Third alone had to bear the cost of an off-duty police officer to manage its garage entrance during rush hour. 2+U would only add to that traffic, said MetLife. Those concerns have evidently been resolved between the two parties, sparing Skanska several months of delay. 2+U will also have its garage facing Seneca, with underground parking for 467 vehicles.

In a statement, Skanska's Murphy McCullough said, “Our vision for 2+U is to create another Seattle development that reflects the desires of downtown businesses, residents and visitors and provides a unique space to work, dine, entertain, shop, or just relax and enjoy the vibrancy of the neighborhood.”

If the project breaks ground early this year, Skanska estimates, it will finish in the second quarter of 2019. The office space is being brokered by CBRE's John Hansen and NGKF's Jess Ottele. The retail space is being brokered by JLL's Anne Marie and Erika Koehler.

The 2+U team also includes project architect Kendall/Heaton Associates of Houston, landscape architect Swift Co. and retail designer Graham Baba Architects. Skanska will serve as its own general contractor.

New fencing has gone up around the 2+U site, and some portions of the vacant old building facades have already been removed. All the buildings on the block will be demolished except the Diller Hotel at First and University, which is separately owned.


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