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February 14, 2008

Tapping a market by building green

  • Pent-up demand for sustainable design draws buyers to Belltown condo project
  • By ROSEMARY COLEMAN
    The Schuster Group

    mug
    Coleman

    Mosler Lofts, a 12-story residential tower in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood completed in October, is slated to be Seattle’s first LEED silver certified and Built Green condominium.

    The Schuster Group, a green real estate investment and development company based in Seattle, is the firm behind Mosler Lofts. Founded in 1989 by Mark Schuster, a fifth-generation Washingtonian and life-long environmentalist, The Schuster Group began to focus on green strategies in 2003 and made a commitment to build green and incorporate its principles of reducing our carbon footprint in all of its current and future real estate development and redevelopment projects. 

    In addition to supporting the tightening of LEED standards to encourage greener output, The Schuster Group’s commitment to building green includes having several LEED accredited professionals on staff.

    Photo courtesy of The Schuster Group
    Many of the Mosler Loft buyers say they were drawn to the green design features.

    By being one of the first developers to build green in Seattle, Schuster was able to answer an unmet need waiting to be fulfilled at a time when building green was still a new concept.

    Many of the Mosler Loft buyers were drawn specifically to the project’s green design features, and after only one month on the market, over 50 percent of the homes at Mosler Lofts were pre-sold. Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony in October, 98 percent of the homes were sold.

    The Schuster Group has recently launched a $100 million real estate investment fund, Schuster Realty Partners, with $25 million already subscribed. The capital raised for this fund will be used to invest in green real estate development and redevelopment projects over the next few years. The new fund will have a diverse portfolio composed of green projects that enhance the communities where they are located.

    Sustainable features

    In order for Mosler Lofts to meet both the LEED and Built Green standards, there was intense focus on numerous green design and development aspects such as water-efficient landscaping; Energy Star appliances; rapidly renewable building materials; use of low-emitting, nontoxic paints and finishes; the design of floor-to-ceiling windows to bring in abundant natural daylight; and the installation of high efficiency boilers, elevators and chillers to significantly reduce energy usage.

    The green rooftop is perhaps the most significant ecological aspect of the development. Besides the aesthetic benefits of reducing the prevalence of solid surfaces in urban areas by providing a parklike setting on a rooftop, common ecological and economic benefits include the recovery of green space, improved stormwater management, a reduction in the heat island effect, water and air purification and a reduction in energy consumption.


    Built Green Conference
    Schuster Group CEO Mark Schuster will be speaking at the annual Built Green Conference on March 14 at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. He will discuss how his firm marketed Mosler Lofts, using the building’s green design to distinguish it in a competitive market. To register, visit http://www.builtgreenconference.com.

    This unique vision of a residential community comes out of a concept of not only developing a building that will attract buyers, but also providing community benefits by creating ecologically healthier projects while increasing the value of each real estate investment.

    A green portfolio

    Since the firm’s creation, The Schuster Group has generated a list of real estate projects that has provided significant community enhancements and environmental benefits. In addition to Mosler Lofts, another recent Schuster Group project is Normandy Park Towne Center, an environmentally conscious retail center located in the heart of Normandy Park.

    The firm is also on track to receive double LEED certification for its corporate office building, which is a redevelopment project in Queen Anne. All of these developments share the same vision: create properties that add value to the community where they are located.

    Schuster understands why Mosler Lofts has been successful.

    “Buyers are becoming more and more eco-savvy, and the market is responding to a high-quality product with sustainable details,” he said.

    “In order to stay competitive in today’s real estate market, especially in this region, we need to respond to the demand for greener, more sustainable projects on behalf of buyers and investors. Fortunately for us, these kinds of projects are right in line with our own vision and values.”


    Rosemary Coleman is The Schuster Group’s director of corporate communications.



     


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