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November 7, 2017

Developer Luis Guincher dead at age 83

Journal staff reporter

Luis Guincher, a prolific developer who founded Continental Pacific in 1979, died Oct. 29 in Vancouver, B.C. at the age of 83.

His son Claudio Guincher, who today leads Continental Properties, shared details of his father's life and career with the DJC. Claudio joined the family business in 1990.

Born in 1934, Luis Guincher was raised in Chile, where he trained as a civil engineer. He started his own construction company during the 1950s, building schools throughout Chile.


In 1970, during a period of political tumult in that country, Guincher and his young family left for Israel, where he built more schools. The family emigrated to Vancouver, Canada in 1974, where he started building condominiums.

Three years later, during a down market in Canada, Guincher moved to Bellevue. Though he knew no one when he arrived here, Guincher quickly built half a dozen “woody walk-up” office parks in Bellevue and Redmond under the company name Continental Pacific. In 1979, Guincher began developing 40 acres in Redmond that would become WestPark, with 21 buildings and 675,000 square feet.

Continental sold it in the early 1990s to TIAA for $81 million.

Also in the early 1990s, Continental shifted its emphasis to Eastside multifamily development. Signature projects included The Heights at Bear Creek, Aspen Creek Apartments and Montebello Apartments. Guincher also developed condominiums in Seattle, including his last project: the 366-unit Metropolitan Apartments at Seventh and Westlake.

Claudio Guincher said Seventh and Westlake was “a pioneering location” for a high rise when that tower was built — though now it is just south Amazon's new campus. Metropolitan Apartments set a per-unit sales record of $288,000 when it sold in 2003. By comparison, Claudio Guincher's Continental Properties recently sold Tower 12 Apartments in downtown Seattle, and the average price per unit was $719,000.

Guincher partnered with Vancouver, B.C.-based Bentall on a number of projects. That partnership ended in the late 1990s, and Guincher retired to Phoenix in 2000 with his wife, Kela, where he took up golf and painting. The couple also traveled extensively and enjoyed ballet, opera and symphony performances.

Guincher's death was due to complications from a prior stroke. Services were held in Vancouver last week.

In addition to Claudio and his wife (Lori), Gunicher is survived by his daughter Karen and her husband (Jack), along with grandchildren Tamara, Mimi, Amanda and Joel.

Claudio Guincher said donations can be made in his father's name to Mary's Place or Jewish Family Service.

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