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June 28, 2015

One of the last remaining large developable sites' in Seattle hits market at 23rd and Union

Capitol Hill Seattle Blog

Bryan Cohen

You'll have to call to find out an asking price, but 23rd and Union's hallmark property is officially for sale. Last week, realtors for longtime MidTown Center owner Tom Bangasser released some slick marketing materials with sweeping aerial photos solely dedicated to selling the property.

"We have unprecedented interest around the world on this site," said Jason Rosauer, partner at realtor Kidder Mathews. "I anticipate it will be a record setting price."

The 106,000 square-foot MidTown property currently includes a downsized U.S. Post Office, a handful of small businesses, a liquor store, and Smash Putt (until July 31st, anyway). The materials call MidTown "one of the last remaining large developable sites" for sale in Seattle and make a big pitch for the block's potential given its central location in the city:

For the first time in over 70 years, the MidTown Center property, one of the last remaining large developable sites in Seattle, WA, is on the market for sale. This offering includes more than two acres of flat land on a full city block in the center of Seattle.

This property offers unparalleled potential in one of the hottest commercial real estate markets in the world. Seattle is the #1 fastest growing large cities in the United States with over 15,000 jobs added to the metropolitan area in 2014, the majority of those within two miles of South Lake Union, the Central Business District, Capitol Hill, and MidTown Center.

The sales materials don't mention the Africatown community process seeking to create a public development authority or land trust to develop the property, nor Bangasser's overtures to include Ms. Helen's Soul Food Bistro in the center.

The marketing also leave out Bangasser's drawn out effort to rezone the property to allow for six story structures. It's currently restricted to four-story buildings after the City Council's land use committee rejected Bangasser's rezone proposal in February. Council members said they opposed granting an upzone as there was no project on the table to consider, but that it should one day be upzoned.

Bangasser would have preferred to have that day come before he sold the property, but it would appear he's ready to move with or without it. The Central Area Land Use Committee fought to attach a set of community priorities to the site including affordable housing guarantees as a condition of an upzone.

Meanwhile, the city's 23rd Avenue Action Plan recommends a upzone all around the intersection to allow for six-story buildings. Amanda Bryan, one of Central Area LURC's founding members, said the group generally supports the city's proposed upzone.

As the City Council prepares for budget season, it could still be awhile until members take up a rezone of the area. In the meantime, another developer across the street has applied for an upzone to its property.

In November, CHS reported on the plan for Lake Union Partners to acquire and develop its second corner at 23rd and Union. Plans for The Central call for a 6-story, 144-unit, mixed-use development with 110 parking stalls underground.

"If it appears the city's proposal is moving along at a quicker pace than ours, then we would drop our proposal and simply move forward under the city's legislative rezone proposal," said Lake Union's Patrick Foley.

The company's other development on the southwest corner of the intersection is planned to open before the end of the year. CHS reported on the development's centerpiece retail tenant Electric Lady, a sibling shop to 20/20 Cycle specializing in electric and cargo bikes.

"When that happens in your market you can still have a good market, but you're are not going to have a great market," Sweeney said, "and that is sort of where we are right now."

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