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Updated Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 09:39 PM

Apartment builder signals interest in Seattle Times Co. block

By Eric Pryne
Seattle Times business reporter

A Dallas apartment developer has approached Seattle city planners about building a seven-story project on part of the big South Lake Union block now occupied by The Seattle Times Co.’s mostly vacant former headquarters.

Mill Creek Residential Trust’s complex would cover most of the north half of the block bounded by Fairview Avenue North, John Street, Boren Avenue North and Thomas Street, according to a preliminary site plan filed last week with the city’s Department of Planning and Development.

At seven stories, the project would be much shorter than the 240 feet authorized in Mayor Mike McGinn’s controversial proposed South Lake Union rezone.

The Times moved out of the aging headquarters building earlier this year and put the block up for sale, saying it wanted to test South Lake Union’s Amazon.com-charged real-estate market.

It also listed the block to the south, now mostly parking lots. The Times still owns both blocks, according to property records.

A Times spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s real-estate dealings, and Mill Creek’s Pacific Northwest managing director could not be reached.

Mill Creek Residential was formed in 2010 by former executives of Trammell Crow Residential. It has opened apartment projects this year in Massachusetts, Florida, New York and Washington, D.C., according to its website, and operates or is developing nearly 11,000 units around the country.

The South Lake Union project would be the company’s first in the Seattle area. No permit applications have been filed so far.

But, in what likely is a related move, The Times Co. asked the city last month to split the headquarters block into four separate legal parcels. Mill Creek’s project would be built on two of them, according to the preliminary site plan

The developer’s preliminary plans don’t include the block’s southeast corner at Fairview and John, where the facade of the headquarters building has been designated a historic landmark.

The Times has indicated that, while that facade would be preserved, the rest of the building would be demolished.

The block is now zoned for industrial and commercial use. A zoning change to permit residential development would be needed even if Mill Creek’s development complies with the existing 85-foot height limit.

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


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