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January 30, 2019

HB Management eyes landmarked property in Belltown for apartments

Journal Staff Reporter

Photo NK Architects [enlarge]
The Wayne Apartments on Second Avenue is three rowhouses that were constructed between 1888 and 1893. Ground-floor commercial space was added in 1911.

Photo by King County [enlarge]
The Wayne Apartments in 1937.

Four years ago, Wood Partners had a plan to buy and redevelop three Belltown properties with a 124-unit apartment building, but it was thwarted by the landmarking of the Wayne Apartments, at 2224 Second Ave.

The neighboring parcels are separately owned, and total 19,440 square feet. They've been upzoned for residential construction up to 95 feet.

Now HB Management, using architect Ankrom Moisan, has stepped forward with a new plan for an eight-story apartment building. Public records show that the two property owners recently signed purchase and sale agreements with HB.

The number of units isn't specified in the new plan, which says the old structures would be torn down. They're now home to businesses including Neon Boots, Rocco's, Lava Lounge, Shorty's and Tula's.

The path to demolishing a landmarked structure is unclear, with few precedents. Early last year, the city's Landmarks Preservation Board voted not to place any controls on the Wayne Apartments. Its owner, a local investment group that purchased the property for $1.1 million in 1998, had appealed the prior landmarking, pleading financial hardship. Last year's board decision could have been appealed to the city Hearing Examiner, but its website doesn't show any such case on the docket.

One recent example of a no-controls landmark being demolished is the former Galbraith House, at 1729 17th Ave. on Capitol Hill. It was landmarked in 2005. In late 2017, the board decided not to place any controls on it, and it was demolished early last year by longtime owner Sound (aka Sound Mental Health, aka Seattle Mental Health).

The Wayne Apartments consists of three rowhouses that were constructed between 1888 and 1893. The ground-floor commercial space was added in 1911. The county says there are 12 apartments, aka the Belltown Funky Studios, which are apparently still occupied.

Local blogs have said the Wayne Apartments are again for sale, but the current broker is unknown. Four years ago, Paragon Real Estate Advisors was offering the assemblage. (Paragon and HB Management share offices and certain key personnel.)

The two parcels to the south have long been owned by the Zappoli family.

HB has experience with big, complicated projects. It successfully entitled and last year sold for $60 million the twin-tower BB6 project at 2300-2326 Sixth Ave. in the Denny Regrade. It also is planning apartment projects in West Seattle and — through a related company Roosevelt Development Group — all around the future Roosevelt Station. The Roosevelt projects could total about 800 units in a half-dozen buildings.

HB has also built 122 units at 206 Bell St. in Belltown, and is planning 152 units at 307 Broad St.

The Ankrom Moisan-HB plan also lists the prospective buyer as LIV 2nd and Bell LLC, a new entity that shares an address with Liv Communities of Grand Haven, Michigan. That firm is an apartment developer and manager, with offices and eight communities in Michigan and Arizona. The Holland Sentinel reported last year that the family-run private company was expanding to Seattle.

Although the moniker “LIV” has appeared on some local apartment projects, like LIV Bel-Red and LIV Seattle in the University District (now The Nolan), there appears to be no connection to Liv Communities.

The new plan has a nominal value of $25 million. No parking is required or included. The project hasn't yet entered into design review. No demolition plan has been filed.

The site is directly south of the Mama's Mexican Kitchen building, on the corner of Bell Street at 2234 Second, which was landmarked in 2017. Minglian Realty LLC of Vancouver, B.C. had previously paid $4.5 million for that site, and planned an eight-story, 63-unit apartment building. However, that project has been mostly dormant for the past two years.


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

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