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April 29, 2021

Da Li and Gensler polish design for offices near Seattle Center

Real Estate Editor

Rendering by Gensler [enlarge]
In this rendering, looking southeast, the monorail has been omitted from Fifth (right).

Da Li Development owns the McDonald's corner at 222 Fifth Ave. N., immediately east of Seattle Center. Its plan to redevelop the site with a new office building, designed by Gensler, had apparently passed through city design review last year. Instead it's back for another review, on May 5, with a proposal that's slightly larger but no taller.

The old plan had about 177,000 square feet of offices, including a mezzanine above the eighth floor. That intermediate level has now become a full ninth floor, which ups the offices to around 195,000 square feet. The project also includes about 8,000 square feet of retail/commercial space at grade.

Gensler now labels the upper floors as office/lab space — since the latter is now in much tighter supply, and it's uncertain how demand for traditional offices will rebound after the pandemic wanes.

Floor heights of about 13-½ feet could be suitable to life-science tenants. Gensler also employs an offset core, with all the elevators and such pushed east (toward the alley), creating large floor plates with around 21,000 square feet each. The unnamed project will also seek LEED gold certification. For now, Gensler simply calls it 222.

No broker is attached to the project. The team includes Lease Crutcher Lewis, general contractor; Cary Kopczynski & Co., structural engineer; Brumbaugh & Associates, landscape architect; ACCO Engineered Systems, MEP; KPFF Consulting Engineers, civil engineer; Prime Electric, electrical engineer; Rushing, LEED consultant; and Morrison Hershfield, envelope and energy modeling.

Da Li had said on its website that this spring was the goal for breaking ground. The restaurant's lease was to expire at the end of last year, but it's still serving burgers and fries. No demolition permit has been issued yet. Construction for such a project would typically take about two years, but it's unclear if Da Li would proceed on spec. (It closed a certain number of pre-sales before starting on its recently completed Koda condominium in the International District.)

Gensler's design flourishes include a bright red open stair on the building's northeast corner; and a landscaped rooftop amenity area with nearly 9,500 square feet. That would have unobstructed views of the Space Needle and Climate Pledge Arena. Smaller west-facing terraces are also indicated for the second and eighth floors.

Since the prior review last spring, the pattern of the glass and metal facade has been staggered to produce a less uniform effect. The south retail bay on Thomas, one of the city's designated Green Streets, has been finessed to be more pedestrian-friendly. A cafe with outdoor seating seems likely. (The other retail bays face Fifth and the monorail.)

Two levels of underground parking, accessed from the alley to the east, will have 104 stalls. A roll-out bike room at grade will have 87 stalls.

The Mandatory Housing Affordability fee had previously been estimated at $4.7 million. That's likely to increase by another $150,000 or so, based on the new project size.

Da Li is run by the Hsieh family, with its core development business in Taiwan and China. Besides 222 Fifth and Koda, its other big plan is to develop a corner site in the ID, owned by the local Moriguchi family, with a 28-story hotel and apartment project designed by MG2. The mixed-use Fujimatsu Village project hasn't yet entered design review. Da Li also paid $8 million last year for a Capitol Hill site where no new plans have been filed.

Da Li previously assembled the Uptown site for about $18 million, initially planned condos and then shifted to offices.


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

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