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Originally published Friday, February 24, 2012 at 6:31 PM

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Amazon consultant pegs 3 future buildings' value at $200M each

Amazon wants the city to consider the projects on all three blocks together, as a single "planned community development."

Seattle Times business reporter

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Amazon.com's real-estate consultant has estimated the value of the office towers the online retailer plans to build on three blocks in Seattle's Denny Triangle at $600 million.

The "project valuations" — $200 million for development on each of the three blocks — are included in preliminary paperwork that consultant Seneca Group filed with city planners earlier this month.

It's unclear whether those numbers reflect just construction costs, or something more. A Seneca principal did not respond to requests for more information.

Amazon has agreed to buy the three blocks — bounded roughly by Westlake Avenue, Sixth Avenue and Blanchard Street — from Clise Properties and build office towers on each of them to handle its explosive growth.

While few details of Amazon's plans have surfaced — the company isn't talking — the handful of documents in the files of the city's Department of Planning and Development do provide some nuggets.

They also raise a question: Just how many buildings does Amazon plan to construct?

In its "pre-submittal conference" applications, Seneca Group says Amazon's plan is to build a 1 million-square-foot office building — singular — on each of the three blocks.

But preliminary site plans from architect NBBJ in the same document show footprints for two new buildings on each block.

Which is it?

"That's unclear," said Alan Justad, a spokesman for the planning department. "It's possible there could be a small as well as a large (building) on each of the blocks."

More details should be available soon, he added.

Documents submitted by Seneca say each block's development would provide ground-floor retail space and underground parking for 1,000 vehicles.

They also hint the development might include a large auditorium, with 1,000 to 2,000 seats, that would be available for public use after business hours.

Amazon wants the city to consider the projects on all three blocks together, as a single "planned community development," for purposes of determining what "public benefits" the company should provide or fund in return for permission to build more densely.

According to the city, public benefits for such developments may include low-income housing, historic preservation and public open space. If planners are satisfied with Amazon's plans, zoning allows towers up to 500 feet tall on each of the blocks.

The department has scheduled a public meeting March 13 to discuss the sites and public-benefit priorities. The city's Downtown Design Review Board will consider preliminary design proposals for the buildings — plans that haven't yet been submitted — March 27.

Real-estate sources say final sale of the blocks to Amazon probably is contingent on city approval of the projects. Clise Properties Chairman Al Clise has declined to say what Amazon is paying.

For reference, in fall 2007 Clise sold a full block nearby — 1.9 acres — to Canadian condo developers for nearly $49.9 million, or about $597 per square foot. That block remains undeveloped.

The blocks Amazon is buying total about 5.2 acres.

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

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