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Nat Levy
Real Estate Reporter

June 4, 2015

Real Estate Buzz: Housing, both public and private, opens as part of Yesler Terrace redevelopment

  • At the opening of Anthem on 12th, Spectrum Development skipped the traditional ribbon cutting and had officials sign a cream-colored Fender Stratocaster guitar.
    Real Estate Reporter

    Courtesy Seattle Housing Authority [enlarge]
    SHA opened its first new subsidized housing, Kebero Court, and Spectrum Development Solutions opened the first private Yesler Terrace project, Anthem on 12th. Anthem can be seen here behind Kebero Court.

    The first new housing in the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace — both public and private apartments — is open.

    Seattle Housing Authority said families are moving into Kebero Court, its first new apartments on the 30-acre site. The first private project, Spectrum Development Solutions' Anthem on 12th, opened last week and more than half of the 120 units are leased.

    Anthem is the first of three “workforce housing” projects Spectrum is building in the neighborhood. It is at 103 12th Ave.

    About 75 percent of the 280 units in Spectrum's three buildings are aimed at people making about 85 percent of area median income: teachers, nurses and other civil servants. A quarter of the units will be income-restricted, some for people making less than 65 percent of area median income and some for people making less than 85 percent.

    The local area median income is $62,800 for a single person, $71,700 for a family of two and $80,700 for a family of three, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    Tenants at Anthem so far fit Spectrum's expectations. There are a few teachers, hospital employees, graphic designers and restaurant workers, Jake McKinstry of Spectrum said.

    The developer showed several model units at Anthem's opening, including a 493-square-foot studio for $935 a month for a person making 65 percent or less of area median income; and a 549-square-foot, one-bedroom for $1,235 a month for someone making 75 percent or less of area median income. Studios are the most popular so far, with rents ranging from $935 to about $1,400 a month.

    Gracorp Capital Advisors and Bellwether Enterprise are Spectrum's financial partners on Anthem. Mithun is the architect, Walsh Construction Co. is the general contractor, Hewitt is landscape architect and Blanton Turner is property manager.

    A musical theme carries through the building, a nod to the artistic history of Yesler Terrace, which was once home to Jimi Hendrix. Last weekend there was a fundraising concert on Anthem's roof for Washington Hall, a nearby venue where Hendrix once played.

    At the opening, Spectrum skipped the traditional ribbon cutting and had officials sign a cream-colored Fender Stratocaster guitar. Signers included people from Gracorp, Mithun, SHA and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

    Anthem has some of the same touches found at new market-rate apartments popping up around the city: a rooftop deck, with seating and barbecues, and where residents can rent planting boxes. Units have high-end appliances. Small units have extra storage space with built-ins.

    To make the $28 million project work, Spectrum's team had to cut costs without cutting quality. Materials are simple and inexpensive, but sometimes simple is best if it's executed right, said Bert Gregory of Mithun: “(It's) how you use the brush, not the cost of the paint.”

    Here's one major savings: limited parking. The building is next to a First Hill Streetcar stop, and there is a Pronto bike share stand right outside. Spectrum built only 58 parking spaces.

    “We were able to get some real savings there that we could put back into the amenities,” McKinstry said.

    Construction is underway on one of the other two buildings: Decibel, a 75-unit structure at 301 12th Ave. Construction is set to begin later this month on Reverb, an 85-unit building at 1023 E. Alder St.

    Mithun, Walsh and Hewitt worked on Decibel and Reverb, which are both slated to open by summer 2016.

    SHA's Kebero Court is at 1105 E. Fir St., with 103 apartments and townhouses. The name comes from a type of drum used in East Africa.

    The building has a community room, and central courtyard and playground. There are accessible units for people with disabilities and “breathe easy” units with ventilation systems and surfaces designed for people with respiratory problems.

    Kerry Coughlin, SHA's communications director, said rents are determined on a case-by-case basis using family size and household income. Eighty three of the units are for people making less than 30 percent of area median income, and the other 20 are for people making less than 60 percent of area median income.

    For example, a family of two is paying $433 a month for a one-bedroom unit for people making 30 percent or less of area median income. A family of three is paying $1,150 a month for a three-bedroom unit for people making 60 percent or less of area median income.

    GGLO designed the complex and Andersen Construction was the general contractor.

    SHA will replace 561 aging Yesler Terrace housing units, which are reserved for people making less than 30 percent of area median income. In addition to those units, plans call for 290 apartments for people making less than 60 percent of area median income, and 850 units for people making less than 80 percent of area median income.

    Eventually Yesler Terrace could have as many as 5,000 housing units, 900,000 square feet of office space, and 153,000 square feet of retail and community space.

    That could take 20 years and cost as much as $2 billion.

    Andrew Lofton, SHA's executive director, said at Anthem's opening last week, “One of the underpinnings we held was that Yesler Terrace was going to be a mixed-income community, not just by Seattle Housing Authority but with partners, with private developers who were going to be part of the transformation into a world-class community.”

    SHA has another project under construction: an 83-unit building at 820 Yesler Way called Raven Terrace, which should be done by the end of the year.

    The next SHA project to start construction will be a 111-unit building at 221 10th Ave. S. Construction should begin in a couple of months.

    Got some news for the Buzz? You can reach Nat at nat.levy@djc.com.

    Got a tip? Contact DJC real estate editor Brian Miller at brian.miller@djc.com or call him at (206) 219-6517.

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