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November 5, 2014

Wright Runstad tweaks the design for redeveloping Rainier Square

Journal Staff Reporter

Images courtesy NBBJ and MOTYW [enlarge]
The 12-story hotel will have 150 rooms.

The 58-story tower will have office space on floors three through 37, and 180 apartments above.

Wright Runstad & Co. has applied for a master use permit and tweaked the design for the 1.15 million-square-foot complex it will build on the Rainier Square site at Fifth and Union.

The new development will include a hotel, and a tower with housing and office space.

The main tower has grown from 54 to 58 stories. The amount of office space has increased from 750,000 to 790,000 square feet. The current plan calls for 180 apartments, down from 222.

The hotel tower is now 12 stories instead of 15, with 150 rooms instead of 180.

The complex will have 1,200 parking spaces and 30,000 square feet of retail.

The 31-story Rainier Tower will remain on the block.

The University of Washington picked Wright Runstad to redevelop the block, which is part of the university's 11-acre downtown Metropolitan Tract.

Wright Runstad wants to start construction late next year. The project could open in phases, with lower floors ready as early as 2017. The entire complex could be done by early 2019.

Wright Runstad President Greg Johnson said mechanical systems and elevators can be installed early to make the lower floors functional while construction continues above.

“Feedback we are getting from the office market and capital markets is there are tenants looking and (there is) capital to be placed now, so we are moving as quickly as we possibly can,” Johnson said.

But Johnson said construction won't begin without an office tenant.

NBBJ is the architect, Lease Crutcher Lewis is the general contractor, and Magnusson Klemencic Associates is the structural engineer. Wright Runstad is looking for an equity partner on the $600 million project.

Wright Runstad reduced the number of apartments on floors 40 to 58 because it wanted to have bigger units that average about 1,000 square feet. Johnson said some people who can afford condos and houses prefer to rent, but they want more space than they can find in most new apartments.

The office space will be on floors three through 37. The additional office space in the latest plan is the result of a more efficient plan, Johnson said. There will be two floors of amenities and a mechanical room between the office and residential levels of the tower.

The proposed hotel has been moved back about 25 feet from the sidewalk to make room for pedestrians and make the existing Rainier Tower more visible.

The structure of the tower has changed as well. It still tapers as it rises as an homage to the neighboring Rainier Tower, but the curve is smoother.

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