February 27, 2003

Young blood takes on a challenging market

  • 23-year-old developer takes his first step with Queen Anne mixed-use project
    Special to the Journal


    Every Thursday afternoon I meet with my co-workers, the builder and the architect. Combined, they have over 30 years of experience in real estate development — I have less than three.

    Being the youngest person I know in this business can be daunting. I’m full of passion, new ideas and possess a strong drive to get things done. But process, permits and tradition often serve as speed bumps and detours on the road to my dream.

    “My dream” is to complete the Counterbalance Lofts, a 3-story mixed-use project on Queen Anne Avenue. It’s a wonderful urban structure, reminiscent of a 19th century industrial building. When finished, we’ll have a restaurant, topped off with two condominiums and a penthouse — all packed into a 30-by-100-foot site.

    “My reality” is a world of compromise, patience and, at age 23, selling my ideas to my co-workers. In real estate developing, I’ve learned that every good idea presented is immediately followed up with a conversation on what will be sacrificed. That’s part of the game, as we have a limited amount of space, time and money. But it results in making really tough choices on how to best use our resources.

     Counterbalance Lofts
    Rendering courtesy of Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects
    Jordan Lott is developing the Counterbalance Lofts project on Queen Anne Avenue.

    Some examples include a decision to extend the width of the building to the edge of the property, which prevented placing any windows on the sides. Now, we will have top-to-bottom windows on the front and back of the building. Also, I’ve had to work with multiple changes in the floor plan to optimize the living space while retaining the character of the property.

    Being new to this business, I try to push the envelope on new ideas. It’s important to me to present my fresh perspective and natural ability to create. No, I don’t have multiple years of developer expertise, but I do bring an unencumbered entrepreneurial spirit and “why not” curiosity that comes with the early experience in your career.

    It seems to be working. We are on schedule at 26 weeks as we move toward completion at 52 weeks. And as folks in the building industry know, making your target dates are a major accomplishment. There is genuine excitement about the project and everyone on board shares the vision.

    This project was born more out of my desire to create, than to make money. Actually, being a developer is my side job. I’m also employed full-time as a logistics coordinator for a local sportswear company. So, not only do I have to compromise on building design, I have to negotiate my schedule to make both of my responsibilities work.

    Most importantly, I keep focused on the final goal — an urban real estate development that enriches Seattle in its architecture while integrating commercial and residential spaces. It’s classic, yet custom-designed for the location and its surroundings.

    To say that I have a passion for the completed project is an understatement. Not only am I the developer, I also plan to become a tenant. I think that’s a great way for a person to start in this industry.

    Jordan Lott was born and raised in the Seattle area. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business last year at the University of Southern California. He is an avid golfer, pilot and scuba diver.

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