Pine Street Group

Specialty: Develop and manage commercial, residential, retail and mixed-use projects
Management: Matt Griffin, principal and managing partner
Founded: 1994
Headquarters: Seattle
Employees: 25
Current project: Sixth & Lenora Apartments, 654 units with 18,000 square feet of retail

Image courtesy of studio/216
Pine Street Group is developing the 654-unit Sixth & Lenora Apartments.

Thrift is the focus for Matt Griffin and his team at Pine Street Group.

Griffin is not alone. People and companies are de-leveraging as a result of what Griffin calls the “huge hangover.” Doing more with less, says Griffin, is driving denser, more sustainable development. Pine Street Group’s $200 million Sixth & Lenora Apartments is a good example.

Before construction began this spring, the half-block was mostly vacant. When finished, it will have retail and apartments that average 715 square feet. The target renter is people who would rather live downtown and walk or bicycle to daily destinations than live in outlying areas and drive. Griffin said such urban infill development means less road and other infrastructure building, a good thing for the less-is-more era.

“We continue to look at other (development opportunities) in the urban core,” said Griffin. “If we can’t walk to it, we probably don’t understand it.” In his mind, a mile is a reasonable walk. Company officials did recently make an 8-mile trek (Griffin didn’t say in what direction) though he called that an “outlier.”

Jobs, retail are keys

Pine Street Group is looking at a lot of opportunities but nothing specific. Griffin said the company probably will not make any project announcements in 2012.

He thinks there’s room for more in-city multifamily development, though more jobs will need to be generated for that to happen. Job creation rests in making downtown Seattle a better place.

Griffin thinks Seattle can do this by improving the school system, which will attract families.

Bolstering the retail environment is another key. Pine Street Group is a major retail holder with its Pacific Place shopping center and other properties. Pacific Place is about 95 percent leased.

The city “clearly need(s) to continue to work on civility on the streets,” said Griffin, and work to attract more retailers. The new Target will help, and Pine Street Group officials would like to see other new offerings, such as a Saks Fifth Avenue and electronics retailers, such as Apple and Microsoft.

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