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Originally published Saturday, June 4, 2011 at 10:02 PM

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Sunday Buzz

Hunts Point parcel, without house, sells for $14.75 million; Starbuck banking company may cause confusion

By Seattle Times staff

quotes The article implies that Olson was a busboy back in 1994 and is now CEO and buying 15 m... Read more

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An empty two-acre parcel sold for nearly $15 million this past week, and it wasn't a downtown high-rise site — quite the opposite.

It's the rounded tip of the exclusive Hunts Point enclave, which juts into Lake Washington a bit east of the 520 floating bridge.

The property, listed at $19.7 million, features 846 feet of waterfront. It made headlines a few years back when the home on the site — a 6,860-square-foot rambler designed in 1949 for hydroplane-racing legend Stan Sayres — was offered for free to anyone who would move it off the lot.

Turns out no one took that offer, made in 2005 when Andre and Lisa Radant bought the property for $17.5 million. Hunts Point interim town administrator Sue Israel confirms the Sayres house was razed the following year.

The Radants are heirs to the Bolthouse Farms fortune in Central California. They had planned to move from Bakersfield to Hunts Point but never built a replacement home.

"They did build a new dock, that's the only thing that's on the property," Israel says.

County records identify the site's buyer as Hunts Point Trust, which paid $14.75 million on May 31.

Behind that trust are Rod and Janice Olson, who live a few doors down the street in what a 2006 town of Hunts Point newsletter described as a "spectacular new home."

Olson, according to a 1994 Seattle Times story, began as a hotel busboy in Richland and became head of the area's largest hotel chain of its time, WestCoast Hotels. Now he's chairman of Seattle-based Paramount Hotels; Paramount CEO Michael Bashaw said Olson was out of the country and couldn't be reached.

The Olsons' house at 3645 Hunts Point is listed for sale at $12.9 million by Tere Foster, who specializes in the west Bellevue communities of Hunts Point, Medina, Yarrow Point and Clyde Hill.

She says Hunts Point real estate is becoming more scarce because of a unique dynamic — residents buying adjacent lots to expand their property. "Each year we lose a little" as someone buys a neighboring parcel, she says, citing Hunts Point resident and former Microsoft executive Scott Oki as an example.

Overall, the upper-crust area has held up better than the rest of the region's battered housing market, though prices are down from their peak, Foster said.

This year there have been 95 closed sales at an average price of $1.92 million, compared to 84 sales averaging $1.83 million in the same period last year. Some properties that sat on the market for more than three years have sold recently, Foster said.

And thanks to the rebound in demand, "We have buyers we can't find houses for — and that's new."

A bank name

that bucks the trend

So many banking companies have similar names — First this, Washington that.

So it's great to see a company enter the Puget Sound scene with a distinctive name that won't cause any confusion:

Starbuck Bancshares.

OK, maybe there's a new problem here ...

The aforementioned Starbuck Bancshares was on a news release late last month announcing its acquisition of Bank of the Northwest, a four-branch business bank.

But this Starbuck has nothing to do with the coffee merchant. It's a holding company for the tiny First National Bank of Starbuck, Minn., the initial institution purchased last fall by former Wells Fargo executive Scott Kisting's firm, SKBHC.

Kisting later bought Spokane-based AmericanWest Bank, and that's where the Bellevue, Everett, Issaquah and Tacoma branches of Bank of the Northwest will be folded in. For technical reasons, the purchase was handled through Starbuck, though a spokeswoman did her best to keep that name out of the press.

Not that there's a trademark issue, insisted Kelly McPhee, communication manager for AmericanWest Bank.

"They've been around for 104 years, so they predate the coffee company," she said.

Still, she acknowledged, "We're looking to change that name, it's given us some heartburn."

Rami Grunbaum: rgrunbaum@seattletimes.com

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