Samis Land Co.

Specialty: Commercial, office and residential restoration, development and property management
Managing director:William Justen
Year founded: 1950s
Location: Seattle
Largest project of 2002: Mottman building renovation

Mottman building
Samis Land Co.’s largest project last year was the Mottman building renovation.
Photo courtesy of Samis Land Co.

With many of its once-neglected Pioneer Square properties well on their way to rehabilitation a couple of years ago, Samis Land Co. began setting its sights on new development. Then the bottom fell out of the office market.

Now, it’s 2003 and the company’s development plans are still just development plans. “Everything’s been on the shelf,” said William Justen, Samis’ managing director for real estate.

But with 14 buildings to manage in Pioneer Square, the company has been keeping busy. “We’re trying to take good care of (the tenants) and keep them happy,” Justen said. “We’re making sure we’re offering a real high level of service.”

Still, it’s been a struggle to attract tenants and keep the buildings filled. “Many of the buildings have been vacant and it’s taken a while to fill them back in,” Justen said.

Newly leased office space in the Mottman and Washington Shoe buildings suggest things are looking up, though. Retailers, too, have recently signed leases for the Smith, Hartford, Butler and Collins buildings.

The slowdown in development activity has left the company with more time to consider its vision for the future, Justen said. He and other developers made waves a few weeks back with a 15-year plan to redevelop the south downtown waterfront and much of Pioneer Square and the stadium area, adding thousands of new housing units and over 2 million square feet of office and research space as well as hotels, parks and other amenities.

The monorail, too, could figure into the company’s plans to develop a 24-story mixed-use building near Pike Place Market and replace the “sinking ship” parking garage at Second Avenue and Yesler Way. Both would include monorail stations.

Beyond that, Justen said he’s looking at 16 more buildings as candidates for restoration, but the economy will have to pick up first.

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