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Brian Miller
Real Estate Editor

February 13, 2020

On the Block: Rainier Square is doing just fine without Amazon, thank you very much

Jilted at the altar exactly one year ago, Rainier Square has dried its tears, put its wedding dress into mothballs and is now on Tinder.

Amazon, you're dead to me. Dead. I'm moving on with my life. And I'm doing just fine. Good luck with that hussy, Bellevue.

Wright Runstad's new 59-story mixed-use tower is nearing completion on the full downtown block ground leased from the University of Washington (part of its 11-acre Metropolitan Tract). Leasing efforts are underway for the offices and retail. For the latter, PCC Community Markets and upscale gym operator Equinox are already signed. The apartments on top of the new tower should also open late this year, and there are new signs of activity on the southwest corner of the block.

There, at 400 University St., the foundations and underground parking are already in place for what will be a 10-story companion office building — instead of the previously proposed hotel. Wright Runstad changed its hotel plan last fall after flirting with a few hotel operators —sound familiar? — and considering the downtown office vacancy rate. That's about 4.6% for Class A space, according to Broderick Group's fourth-quarter report. (The hotel market is less attractive, so swipe left.)

Renderings by NBBJ [enlarge]
The 10-story companion building to the new Rainier Square tower will have 110,000 square feet of offices above retail and/or restaurant space. It’s slated to finish in spring 2021.

The companion office building (left) will have a 6,000-square-foot private terrace facing Rainier Tower. Separate renovations planned for the 44-year-old tower include a new west atrium (right).

NBBJ designed the companion tower — as it did the main tower and prior hotel plan. The general contractor will be BNBuilders. (Lease Crutcher Lewis is building the main tower, at 1301 Fifth Ave.)

The planned companion office building has been dubbed 400 University @ Rainier Square. It'll have 110,000 square feet of offices above retail and/or restaurant space. Delivery is projected for the spring of 2021. The DJC was unable to reach Wright Runstad for details.

No construction crane has gone up yet on the 400 University corner. The entire redevelopment project obtained all its permits years ago; the hotel-to-office change is considered a minor revision.

Greg Inglin and David Abbott at Colliers are marketing 400 University. It's unclear if the building would proceed on spec — Rainier Square didn't begin construction until after Amazon leased its offices in 2017 (then later pulled out of the deal, instead opting to sublease the space and direct its future growth to Bellevue).

Leasing materials and public records for 400 University say that floor plates will average about 11,500 square feet. A roof deck with about 4,500 square feet is also planned.

Colliers says that the second floor will connect to the new Rainier Square tower, including the PCC and Equinox gym.

About 9,500 square feet of retail or restaurant space is programmed on the ground-floor corner of University and Fourth Avenue. (Real Retail is the sole leasing agent for all the Metropolitan Tract.)

The 400 University building is exactly the same height as the old 12-story hotel plan — and its roofline matches the top of the tapered pedestal of Rainier Tower. That's the famous 41-story Minoru Yamasaki-designed office building developed in 1976, on the southeast corner of the block, with its distinctive wineglass pedestal.

Meanwhile, Wright Runstad is also underway on a separate renovation at Rainier Tower. There, the old glass box entryway on its west side was recently removed by Venture General Contracting. Leasing materials indicate a new, longer double-height atrium will replace it.

NBBJ is designing the Rainier Tower renovations, which cover about 26,000 square feet on two levels, including the underground concourse.

Facing the new west atrium at Rainier Tower, 400 University will have a private terrace with about 6,000 square feet facing Rainier Tower.

Over at the new Rainier Square tower, Bank of America recently subleased six floors of the 722,000 square feet of offices. That leaves about 606,000 square feet being marketed by JLL's Jim Allison and Cleita Harvey. Most of that space should be ready to occupy by the fourth quarter of this year. (Fun fact: It was originally designed to be a multi-tenant building, before Amazon claimed it.)

Above that will be about 191 “ultra-luxury” apartments on floors 39 through 58. Now dubbed the Residences at Rainier Square, they're slated to open this fall, with one- to three-bedroom units with up to 3,000 square feet. Rents haven't been announced.

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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