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Originally published September 24, 2015 at 4:00 PM | Page modified September 24, 2015 at 7:48 PM

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Discovery Park housing goes on the market

The first of 26 historic homes in Seattle’s Discovery Park went on the market Thursday for $799,000 after a Canadian developer renovated the former military housing at Fort Lawton.


Seattle Times business reporter

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The first of 26 historic homes in Seattle’s Discovery Park went on the market Thursday for $799,000 after a Canadian developer renovated the former military housing at Fort Lawton.

The 1,674-square-foot, three-story town home at 4426 Montana Circle has three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths and will be sold after offers are reviewed Oct. 7, said Dean Jones, of listing firm Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in Seattle. The homes — 13 in Montana Circle, 13 in Officer’s Row — will be sold one at a time as renovations are completed.

The prospect of owning a home in Seattle’s largest park, a destination on most Seattle visitor guides, is expected to generate interest from buyers around the world. Situated in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood, Discovery Park was once Fort Lawton, a U.S. Army outpost set up to protect the Puget Sound area from naval attack. In the 1970s, the Army transferred most of the park to the city of Seattle, except for the military housing.

The Montana Circle homes, the first to go on sale, will be available to tour at a grand opening Oct. 4, Jones said. More than 2,000 would-be buyers have already preregistered on the project’s marketing site, and a group last weekend toured a model home.

Built between 1899 and 1935, the Fort Lawton homes on nine acres have expansive views of the 534-acre Discovery Park and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They’re similar to former military housing in San Francisco’s Presidio, according to Rise Properties Trust, the project’s British Columbia-based developer.

Property purchased

Rise bought the property in February for $9.5 million from the U.S. Navy and a subsidiary of Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises.

“We all recognize the responsibility of conserving the living legacy of Fort Lawton, while at the same time, creating a distinctive residential community,” said Gary Blakeslee, Rise’s vice president.

While the exteriors of the homes must be preserved and regulated by Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board, the developer enlisted the help of architect GGLO, historic-preservation experts at BOLA Architecture + Planning and engineers at KPFF and I.L Gross to modernize the homes.

On each home, the company spent an average $200,000 in Montana Circle and $400,000 in Officer’s Row on construction.

The firm expanded kitchens, finished the basements and installed modern electrical, plumbing and heating systems as well as wiring for high-speed Internet. Every home’s powder room has unique wallpaper as well as quirky fireplaces.

Rise also added landscaping, a community garden, fire pit and a tot-lot for residents.

Montana Circle consists of nine classic colonial revival homes built in 1900 and four brick homes built in 1935. The homes offer two to three bedrooms and range from 1,674 to 1,995 square feet.

Officer’s Row, the second set of homes, were built in 1900 and go on sale sometime in early 2016. These 13 classic colonial-revival homes, which range from 4,027 to 6,656 square feet, offer four- or six-bedroom floor plans.

Unlike Montana Circle, the Officer’s Row homes each have a newly built two-car garage and covered terraces with views of the Olympic Mountains.

Bidding wars?

Jones, the broker, said the seller expects to receive multiple offers on every home as they’re listed.

Buyers should be prequalified to purchase by Caliber Home Loans, the preferred lender, Jones said.

It’s hard to say how much the homes could sell for. In the last six months there have been 85 sales over $795,000 on Magnolia, according to Windermere broker Jeff Reynolds. The average sale price was over $1.1 million.

Blakeslee said he wants to discourage bidding wars. Buyers with escalator clauses will be asked to give a first and best offer, he said.

The seller isn’t allowing home tours until they are completed. Pre-inspections won’t be necessary. The seller plans to give all buyers a five-day period to inspect the home, Jones said.

Blakeslee said Rise wasn’t legally obligated in its deal with the federal government to radically improve the homes or sell them individually, but it chose to take the high road.

“This will be a better community for the park,” he said.

All 26 homes will be part of a master association that governs the Homes at Fort Lawton and will be responsible for maintenance and landscaping of common areas. The developer estimates the monthly dues initially at $400 per home, but it could vary based on the home’s size.

In Montana Circle, the four yellow buildings will be part of a condominium with ownership in common, whereas the four brick homes will be single-family homes on their own lots.

While the homes are surrounded by lush green lawns, residents can’t develop them. The landmark-design guidelines require uniformity and even limit how high plants can be allowed to grow, Blakeslee said.

The firm is intentionally selling each home as a unique offering.

“There is no comp for this,” Blakeslee said. “It’s not like living in Seattle; it’s a park.”

To create a sense of community, he said, buyers will be restricted from flipping the property within the first year of ownership. The association’s governing documents also will require that any rentals be long-term.

Rise offered renters in the old military housing a first shot at reserving one of the modernized homes. Three took up the offer — 1 in Montana Circle and two in Officer’s Row — and will have first shot at buying units before they become available to the public, he said.

City could add housing

While the historic homes will be sold to people who can afford to pay more than three-quarters of a million dollars, a city plan is still up in the air to create housing for those of modest means just outside Discovery Park.

The city is still negotiating with the federal government on stalled plans to redevelop about 18 acres south of West Lawton Street along 36th Avenue West.

In 2008, the city signed off on a redevelopment plan to include 108 to 125 market-rate units, 85 units for the homeless and six Habitat for Humanity units. Neighborhood opponents took the city to court, arguing the plan was subject to the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).

The city said it expects the Army to complete its appraisal of the redevelopment site by the end of the year.

Sanjay Bhatt: sbhatt@seattletimes.com or 206-464-3103 On Twitter @sbhatt



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