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Originally published Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Vulcan plans more apartments, renovation of historic South Lake Union laundry

Vulcan plans a 330-unit apartment building on most of the block in South Lake Union between Harrison and Republican streets and Pontius and Yale avenues North. The century-old Supply Laundry building, also on the block, would be preserved and renovated as part of the project.

Seattle Times business reporter

Vulcan Real Estate has filed preliminary paperwork with the city to build a seven-story residential development in the Cascade neighborhood of South Lake Union and renovate a historic commercial-laundry building on the same block.

The new complex, with about 330 units and ground-floor retail, would cover about three-fourths of the block between Harrison and Republican streets and Pontius and Yale avenues North, said Lori Mason Curran, Vulcan's real-estate market-research manager.

The Supply Laundry building, a designated historic landmark on the rest of the block, would be restored and converted to either office or retail use as part of the development, Mason Curran said.

The proposed complex is the latest in a long string of projects Vulcan has built or proposed in once-neglected South Lake Union, where it owns more than 60 acres.

The city's Capitol Hill Design Review Board, an advisory group, has scheduled a meeting Dec. 3 to consider Vulcan's plans and provide feedback. The project is at least three years from completion, Mason Curran said.

"We've always had a strategy of teeing up our properties so they're ready to develop when the time is right," she said.

While it's too soon to say for certain, the units probably will be apartments rather than condos, Mason Curran said.

Innovative, large-scale "biofiltration swales" — wide, shallow channels designed to filter pollutants from stormwater — are planned along the east and west sides of the block.

The city designated the Supply Laundry building a historic landmark in 2005 at Vulcan's suggestion. It was built in stages, the first 100 years ago.

Everything built before 1925, including the laundry's landmark smokestack, will be preserved, Mason Curran said.

The building is a reminder of a time when laundries were one of Seattle's largest industries, "filling Cascade/South Lake Union with clouds of steam and the smell of starch," according to Historylink.org, an online encyclopedia of local history.

A commercial laundry operated on the site until at least the 1980s.

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From a historical perspective, it is "relatively intact," a city inventory says.

The building also is associated with a 1917 strike by laundry workers, mostly women, that is considered a milestone in local labor history.

Vulcan's South Lake Union projects under construction include a two-tower office and condo complex, two condo buildings and the first phases of a new headquarters campus for Amazon.com.

Vulcan has applied for permits for two other office projects that incorporate parts of buildings that are historic landmarks: a 93-year-old brick warehouse on Terry Avenue North and the 1920s William O. McKay Ford and Pacific Lincoln Mercury auto showrooms.

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or epryne@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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