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September 23, 2019

Runberg starts filing plans for 769-unit Grand Street Commons complex

Real Estate Editor

Images provided by Lake Union Partners [enlarge]
In addition to housing, the complex would have 58,000 square feet of office and retail/commercial space. Groundbreaking could take place late next year or in 2021.

Early designs for the South Block include a large public plaza on Rainier, which would connect to roughly 6,000 square feet of commercial space on the corner of Grand.

About 3.2 acres of partly polluted land in Seattle's Rainier Valley sold for almost $20 million last year to the three owners of Grand Street Commons. That's a mixed-use venture among Lake Union Partners, HAL Real Estate and the nonprofit Mt. Baker Housing Association.

The site has three components at the intersection of South Grand Street and Rainier Avenue South. Let's call them East Block, South Block and West Block.

Runberg Architecture Group has filed early plans for all three. Those three plans haven't yet entered design review, and may be considered separately.

The entire project could break ground late next year or in 2021. One scheduling factor is the opening of Judkins Park Station, about two blocks north, where light-rail service will begin in 2023. And some environmental remediation is ongoing.

The team also includes CPL, structural engineer; KPFF, civil engineer; Hewitt, landscape architect; Emerald City Engineers, MEP engineer; Aspect Consulting, environmental mediation; and Perkins Coie, legal.

Here's what's planned for each of the blocks:

East Block (1750 22nd Ave. S.): LUP and HAL are proposing an eight-story, 298-unit building with 19,000 square feet of retail/commercial space and 167 underground parking spaces. The garage entrance would be on South State Street. The commercial bays would face Grand.

West Block (1765 22nd Ave. S.): The same duo is proposing a seven-story, 271-unit building with 28,000 square feet of retail/commercial space and 271 underground parking spaces. For now, the commercial space is indicated as one large bay on Rainier; that's enough space for a small-format grocery store — as is indicated on renderings — or a large drug store. A truck loading dock is indicated on State, along with the garage entrance.

Roof decks are indicated for both the east and west buildings. Their entrances would face each other across 22nd. Both buildings would include some ground-floor apartments facing State and 22nd, which could end up as live/work units. Both buildings will end up with bike rooms, too.

South Block (1815 23rd Ave. S.): Mt. Baker Housing is proposing a seven-story building with 200 affordable units, about 11,000 square feet of office and retail space. About 40 structured parking stalls, not necessarily for tenants, would be accessed from South Holgate Street. There would also be around 190 bike stalls.

Runberg's early design for the South Block also includes a large public plaza on Rainier, which would connect to the roughly 6,000 square feet of commercial space on the corner of Grand. There Runberg indicates possible outdoor seating for a cafe. The roughly 5,000 square feet of offices, facing Grand, may be for MBH itself.

When Grand Street Commons was announced last year, the plan was for at least 700 units, many of them affordable. The numbers are always subject to change.

The East and West Blocks will be a combination of market-rate and affordable apartments. LUP estimates that — for all three blocks — over 40% of the final unit count will be affordable. LUP will set its rents in accordance with Mandatory Housing Affordability guidelines and MFTE, the city's multifamily tax exemption program. That will cap rents in somewhere between 100 to 150 of its units, making them affordable to those earning 60-80% of area median income.

On MBH's South Block, for all units, rents will be affordable to those earning 60% of AMI.

The entire project depends in part on state Department of Ecology brownfields cleanup funding. Cleanup is now underway from past uses by a dry cleaner and auto-related businesses. Remediation has already been completed on the former Belshaw Brothers land, where bakery and restaurant equipment was made.

As of last summer, the former Seattle Collision Center and Penthouse Drapery sites were still being remediated with electrical resistance heating wells, and that land hadn't yet been conveyed over to the new owners. The DJC was unable to confirm before deadline if that work has been completed.

(Editor's note: The image credits have been corrected.)


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

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