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Originally published Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 3:47 PM

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Downtown Seattle apartment project a welcome beginning

The Seattle Times editorial board congratulates Pine Street Partners for starting the first new high-rise building in downtown Seattle since the recession.

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WEDNESDAY'S page-one story about real estate in Seattle was not about falling prices, empty buildings, foreclosures or crooked lenders. It was about plans by a local company, the Pine Street Group, to begin work on two new 24-story market-rate apartment towers because they sense the beginnings of a hot market here.

We like it.

Markets can get too hot, as everyone learned. But the refrigeration of real estate grows tiresome. This is the first large downtown Seattle tower to start up since November 2007 — the peak of the previous boom — and it is very welcome.

Let someone else turn this into a case study of construction costs, rising rents and business cycles. Business is more than lines on charts. It is about people and their projects — about those who hold back and those who are willing to be first.

Pine Street Group is not the only developer with a project. It is first out of the gate, says managing partner Matt Griffin, because they have a good site, strong equity — necessary in post-crisis America — and they were ready.

"It's tough to do this," he says. "We've been working on this project five years."

The market that attracts these investors is the growth in young workers at such forward-looking employers as Amazon, PATH, Dendreon and the Gates Foundation — people who are in no hurry to buy a house because of what's happened to the market there. For some of these young workers it will be a chance to live Manhattan-style, with no car, at least for a while.

The Sixth and Lenora Apartments will become the state's highest-density residential neighborhood. Building them will also be good for ironworkers, crane operators, carpenters, finishers and all the others who have so long been hungry for work.

All in all, good news.

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