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Originally published Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Corrected version

New burst of office construction may start near Amazon HQ

Two of the region's busiest developers, Touchstone and Vulcan, have filed preliminary paperwork for new office buildings in Seattle's South Lake Union, and a third developer says it plans to break ground soon.

Seattle Times business reporter

quotes 12 stories is not out of line with some of the other Vulcan buildings there. Whether... Read more
quotes As long as building heights gradually rise from Lake Union (low), toward downtown... Read more
quotes please, no more construction and congestion in slu. Lesser Seattle Lives! The tall... Read more

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Is South Lake Union on the verge of another round of office construction?

Two of the region's busiest developers have filed preliminary paperwork with Seattle planners for new office buildings in the fast-changing neighborhood.

And a third developer says it plans to break ground soon on a six-story office building on a site it acquired in late August.

South Lake Union, of course, is home to Amazon.com's new, 11-building headquarters complex, and there are reports the fast-growing online retailer is in the market for still more space.

But none of the three developers would discuss whether Amazon plays any role in their proposals.

The projects:

• Touchstone has proposed two 12-story towers on the Troy Laundry block, bounded by Thomas and Harrison streets, Fairview Avenue North and Boren Avenue North.

• Vulcan Real Estate has proposed a 6-story building three blocks to the west, at Ninth Avenue North and Harrison Street.

• Spear Street Capital will start construction soon on a building with 114,000 square feet of office space and 20,000 square feet of retail at Westlake Avenue North and John Street, according to John Grassi, president of the San Francisco-based firm.

All three sites are within blocks of Amazon's 1.7-million-square-foot complex, built by Vulcan, which is mostly complete.

The tallest buildings are 12 stories. Amazon also has leased an additional 600,000 square feet in two office towers to the south.

Oscar Oliveira of the Broderick Group brokerage said Amazon is said to be seeking proposals from developers for another building. But even if Amazon isn't involved, he said, it makes sense for Touchstone, Vulcan and Spear Street to start thinking about additional office development in South Lake Union.

"That's one of the hottest submarkets in the entire Puget Sound," he said.

More than 1,000 apartments are under construction in the neighborhood, with more in the pipeline. Vulcan is building another laboratory and office building for UW Medicine, which already has two in the area. Restaurants and shops are starting to move into retail space in Amazon's buildings.

Both the Touchstone and Vulcan projects showed up this week on agendas for the city's Queen Anne/Magnolia Design Review Board, an advisory body. It will consider Vulcan's project Nov. 2 and Touchstone's Nov. 16.

City records indicate Vulcan first approached planners about its project in June, Touchstone last month.

Touchstone bought the Troy Laundry block in June from The Seattle Times Co. The brick facade of the historic Troy Laundry building would be preserved as part of the development, which would include retail space and parking for 1,100 vehicles, according to city records.

Touchstone principal Douglas Howe downplayed the project.

"We generally don't like to be in the business of speculating or pre-announcing projects that are in the early stages," he said. "There are a lot of moving pieces ... Six or eight months from now we'll probably have something to talk about."

Vulcan spokeswoman Lori Mason Curran said in an email that the developer is beginning to seek permits for its Ninth Avenue North site "so we are ready to build something when the market returns.

"We do not have a tenant for the building, nor would we build speculatively."

The 200,000-square-foot building would have retail space and parking for 275 vehicles, according to city records.

The previous owner of Spear Street's project site, at 202 Westlake Ave. N., had obtained permits in 2008 for the six-story building. The project would have four levels of underground parking for 171 vehicles.

"Various people have expressed interest, but technically it's a 'spec' building," Grassi said. He declined to comment on whether Amazon is among those expressing interest.

Spear Street also recently acquired the 83 King Street/505 First South office complex in Pioneer Square from Starbucks.

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

Information in this article, originally published Oct. 5, 2011, was corrected the next day. A previous version of this story said the tallest buildings in Amazon's 1.7-million-square-foot South Lake Union complex were 16 stories. The tallest are actually 12 stories..

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