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Originally published September 29, 2011 at 6:40 PM | Page modified September 30, 2011 at 6:25 AM

Belltown condo project revived as apartments

Vulcan Real Estate is dusting off its long-dormant Belltown high-rise project, the Martin. Originally designed and approved as a condo tower...

Seattle Times business reporter

quotes Paradox, obviously you don't realize that many Belltown buildings are low-income... Read more
quotes You can bet that for the prices Paul Allen and company will want to charge for rent... Read more
quotes @paradox lost: Paul Allen's 5th Avenue apartment tower, right next to his Cinerama... Read more

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Vulcan Real Estate is dusting off its long-dormant Belltown high-rise project, the Martin.

Originally designed and approved as a condo tower, the 24-story building at Fifth Avenue and Lenora Street instead will be built as apartments, Vulcan officials said Thursday.

Construction should start this year or early in 2012, they said, with completion slated for late 2013.

Vulcan applied for building permits for the project earlier this month, city records show.

City planning officials approved the Martin in early 2007, but Vulcan put plans on hold just months later, "when we saw the condominium market at risk of oversupply," spokeswoman Lori Mason Curran said in an email.

Now, however, "supply and demand factors for apartments are now headed toward a perfect storm," she said, "and we are planning on moving ahead ... to take advantage of the market."

That market is booming, especially in neighborhoods near downtown Seattle. Over the past year rents have risen and vacancy rates have dropped — in part because of growing demand from young adults, in part because of reluctance or inability to buy homes.

In a typical year, developers complete about 3,600 new apartments in the Puget Sound area, Mike Scott of research firm Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors told the Washington Multi-Family Housing Association on Thursday.

The next few years should be way above average. About 7,000 apartments are under construction, Scott said, with 3,500 more scheduled to break ground before the end of this year and 3,200 more in the first quarter of 2012.

The biggest new complex — Pine Street Group's two-tower, 24-story, 654-unit Sixth & Lenora Apartments — is a block from the Martin. It broke ground this spring.

The Martin, next door to Vulcan owner Paul Allen's Cinerama movie theater, will have 188 apartments above five floors of above-grade parking, Mason Curran said.

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

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