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November 28, 2016

Greystar plans 28-story apartment tower, and church, on site in SLU

Journal staff reporter

Preliminary plans have been filed by Greystar with the city for what could be a 348-unit apartment tower and a church on a South Lake Union site that has been owned by Seattle Unity Church for nearly six decades.

The site, which has not yet been sold, is at 200 Eighth Ave. N. It covers almost 29,000 square feet, and is on the block bounded by John and Thomas streets, and Eighth and Ninth avenues. It's immediately north of Denny Park.

Current zoning allows buildings up to 240 feet.

Greystar's documents describe the project as 280 feet tall, with 28 stories. A bonus might be allowable under the city's MHA-R incentive program, but would require approvals. Air rights are another possibility.

A site plan prepared by Weber Thompson indicates the tower would have setbacks and decks above the fourth floor, and another deck above the 28th floor. Four levels of underground parking would have about 281 stalls, accessed from the alley.

Above the garage would be two buildings, separated by 20 feet: the mixed-use apartment tower on the north and a new church of uncertain height on the south. Greystar says a separate permit application will be filed for the church.

Seattle Unity communications director Annie Christensen confirmed the church has been in talks with developers, though she didn't know the names. About six years ago, she said, someone offered “an astronomical sum” for the parking lot on the north side of the property, and “It started people talking.”

Christensen said the one-story church was completed in 1960 for what was then called the Unity Church of Truth. Today the building “is wearing out.”

Selling the land will fund construction of a new church, she said, and “Olson Kundig is going to design it.”

OK's name is mentioned on the church's blog for a meeting to gather parishioners' opinions about the project.

Christensen didn't know what brokers are representing the church.

At 820 John St., immediately east across the alley from the site, a 24-story residential building has been proposed by R.D. Merrill Co. It is unclear if the two projects would conform to city code for tower separation.

South Carolina-based Greystar currently has plans for 433 units in two towers — seven and 24 stories — at 425 Fairview Ave. N.; a 282-unit building at 400 Boren Ave. N.; and 182 units in two buildings at 301 Queen Anne Ave. N. and 300 First Ave. W. (together called Elan Uptown Flats). Weber Thompson is also designed those projects.

Greystar is the fifth largest multifamily developer in the U.S. Founded in 1993, the privately held company oversees a $14 billion global property portfolio, owning or managing some 400,000 units in the U.S.

Christensen says the two-part project “is not happening tomorrow.” She expects the congregation will begin using its new facility around 2020.

She said that 60 years ago people on the church's board of directors “were future thinkers” about buying land in what was then called the Cascade neighborhood.

Seattle Unity sold land in 2003 at the north end of the same block to the nonprofit Low Income Housing Institute. LIHI built the 100-unit Denny Park Apartments at 230 Eighth Ave. N. in 2006.

In that deal, the church netted $1.35 million for 10,800 square feet — about $125 per square foot. Today, its 28,800 square feet will fetch a much higher number from a much bigger buyer.


Brian Miller can be reached by email at brian.miller@djc.com or by phone at (206) 219-6517.

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