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December 15, 2010

Eight micro-apartments will be inside the garage

Journal Staff Reporter

If you like ready access to your car and living in small spaces, Goodman Real Estate has an apartment for you.

The Seattle firm plans to put eight micro-apartments inside the garage of a Pioneer Square tower it intends to start next spring at 888 Western Ave.

The studios will be in the northwest corner of the garage on levels two, three, four and five near an elevator. They will average 442 square feet, with a kitchen and bathroom.

To get to their apartments, residents must enter the garage and go into a vestibule designed to protect them in case of a fire.

Blaine Weber, a senior principal with Seattle-based Weber Thompson, which is designing the complex, said the units are “tiny little guys but they have great views and floor-to-ceiling glass.”

“It's a very edgy thing,” he said. “My guess is that the renter profile for these units would be probably young males or young couples. I think my son and his girlfriend would love something like this.”

You may be living in the garage, so to speak, but Goodman Real Estate Founder John Goodman said the prime corner location of the units and parking right outside your door should prove attractive.

“You walk into your little unit and it's all glass; it's like you're in a hotel room,” he said. “I know they're going to be popular.”

This isn't the first time such units have been developed in downtown Seattle, but its uncommon in residential high-rises in this country. Murray Franklyn included four regular-sized one-bedroom units and a few diminutive work studios in its Cristalla condo complex that was completed in 2004.

Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue, an Opus Northwest/William Justen condo tower finished in 2009 in downtown Seattle, has similar work studios reached via the parking levels. The 27 units range from 150 to 400 square feet and sold for $50,000 to $150,000.

Weber Thompson designed all those projects and is including mini garage-accessed apartments in an apartment high-rise it is designing at 2030 Eighth Ave. in Seattle for Cascadia Holdings LLC. Goodman also expects to include them in another downtown Seattle high-rise apartment.

The units help developers comply with a city requirement approved in 2006 as part of a massive upzone. The mandate that parts of above-ground parking be camouflaged with more inviting uses is a compromise between developers who argued the more costly underground parking would be a financial burden and city planners who believe above-ground parking creates a dead zone above street level.

Besides, the corners of the garage are usually dead space where you can't really park a car, but might be used for storage — “space you wouldn't rent anyway,” said Goodman.


Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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