SLU Office Occupied by Amazon Sells for $269 Million

An office building that Amazon currently occupies in South Lake Union was just sold for $268.9 million – one of the priciest sales in the region according to the Seattle Times. It was previously owned by Schnitzer West, and has now been dealt to TriStar Capital and RFR Holding.

Photo source: Schnitzer West / Michael Walmsley Photography

The recently sold building, at 501 Fairview Ave N, is called Urban Union. It has 12 stories and a distinctive cube-like door, with a total of 290,000 square feet. Urban Union opened last year, which was followed with a $10.5 million alteration for a 12th-floor rooftop, fitness center and more.

Although it is one of the most expensive sales this region has ever seen, at approximately $925 per square foot, our recent history indicates that this isn’t unusual. KOMO Plaza sold last month for $276 million (and that’s an older building, albeit a different kind), and other office buildings in the Lake Union and Downtown areas have sold for more total money.

Out of the Box

Current Biosphere Construction. Photo by Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times

The three, new glass biospheres, which are part of Amazon’s new campus covering three blocks in the South Lake Union area, continue taking shape. Their 36-story adjoining square tower opened for business on November 7th, 2016, with the announcement “Hello World” in the window. This is the 2nd new building site move-in for Amazon in recent months.

Biospheres under construction, April 2016. Photo by Kevin Lisota/GeekWire.

The round, 5-story spheres are located at Lenora Street and 6th Avenue on the north end of downtown Seattle, and are designed to promote out-of-the-box thinking for 800 employees while serving as a nature conservatory. The idea is to promote creative thought in a relaxed, inviting work environment and provide a memorable iconic structure for the downtown core. They will include waterfalls, extension bridges, a river, and thousands of plants (U.S. and international), so employees and guests can connect with nature while at work. Retail spaces will also be opened within the spheres as well. Employees will have a cafeteria available on-site or always have the option of eating their lunch amid the climate-controlled gardens (set at a pleasant, not humid, temperature for humans during the day).

Photo by Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times

According to The Seattle Times, the Amazon company has hired a seasoned, full-time horticulturist, Ron Gagliardo, formerly of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, to manage these spaces. Principal architect at NBBJ, Dale Alberda, initially proposed a round, rather than square structure, which the committee responded well to. So now this out-of-the box structure is becoming a reality, and will fully open in late 2017 or early 2018.

Ba Bar, a Central District Vietnamese Favorite, Expands to SLU

By Megan Hill, for Seattle Eater

South Lake Union’s restaurant scene continues to go bananas, and the Central District’s Vietnamese favorite, Ba Bar, has recently joined the fray.

Photo credit: Seattle Eater

The new Ba Bar opened earlier this month as the headquarters for the restaurant’s popular pastry program. Now, you can grab macarons, kouign amanns, croissants, doughnuts, and more starting at 7 a.m. on weekdays in SLU.

Much of the rest of the menu is the same as the Central District location, but expect chef/owner Eric Banh to start introducing additional options soon, like mi quang, a bright yellow turmeric-infused rice crepe with a thick stock served with items like pork spare ribs, prawns, chicken, and squid. Banh also promises upcoming family-style meals on weeknights.

Eater paid Ba Bar a visit to scope out the space, which feels reminiscent of its original counterpart, with modern flourishes and edgy graphic art. A major departure from the first location is the central bar, though, which ties together a much larger space. Check it out for yourself.

500 Terry Ave N, (206) 623-2711, website. Open Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.


Work on the First Avenue Streetcar Begins This Month

The South Lake Union streetcar came first, and was followed by the First Hill streetcar a few years later. Now, work will begin this month on the First Avenue streetcar, also known as the Center City Connector, which will connect the two existing lines.

Test drilling is the first step in the project, with the intent to confirm where underground utilities are located (some have been there for approximately 100 years!). In the summer, major construction on the site will begin.

As part of this project, since the Center City Connector runs along 1st Avenue from Westlake Center through Pioneer Square to Occidental Avenue, streetcar-exclusive lanes will be added to ensure traffic won’t slow transit trips during peak hours. To do this, 194 parking spaces on 1st Avenue will be removed, which is an acceptable loss since these spaces are primarily used in off-peak hours.

This has already been done for the SLU streetcar, which has benefitted from having transit-only lanes added to Westlake Avenue North. Ridership on that line has increased over the past couple of years from 2,500 daily riders to about 3,600. Meanwhile, the First Hill line which was completed last year has an average of 3,300 daily riders (its near-term goals).

However, this project does mean significant stress on traffic in the Downtown and Pioneer Square areas throughout construction. There will be additional traffic, temporary parking restrictions, and sidewalk detours from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on weekdays and until 5 p.m. on weekends, for a start. Look for the most intense construction phase in 2018.

The First Avenue streetcar is a $135 million project, which is projected for completion in 2020.

Lake Union Events: Things to Do in January

Happy New Year! While January is cold and dark, there are still some fun things to do in and around the neighborhood this month…

January 5: First Free Thursday at MOHAI
10am – 8pm | Museum of History and Industry
On the first Thursday of the month, January 5th, the Museum of History and Industry offers free general admission for the museum’s permanent exhibits – all day long! This month, the free admission includes: True Northwest: the Seattle Journey, and the Bezos Center for Innovation.

January 17: Red Mountain AVA Dinner
6pm | Dahlia Lounge
The next installment (3rd) in Dahlia Lounge’s AVA Dinner Series features Red Mountain. It’s the warmest microclimate in Washington state and the smallest AVA, although it includes some of the most highly regarded vineyard sites in the state. On January 17th, alongside wonderful wines from Red Mountain, Chef Brock Johnson has prepared a family style dinner to highlight and augment the wines. Winemakers from Col Solare, Hedges Family Estate, Hightower Cellars and Upchurch Vineyard will be in attendance to share stories from the vineyards and their delicious wines. The price is $95/person (includes tax and service charge).

January 21: Photography Spotlight with Michelle Dunn Marsh
2pm | Pivot
As part of Pivot’s series, A Closer Look: Portraits from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, join a special photography tour at Pivot on January 21st. It will be led by Photographic Center Northwest Executive Director Michelle Dunn Marsh, who is the founder of community publishing platform, Minor Matters Books. A Closer Look continues through February 26th.

January 24: Startup Stories with the Seattle 10
7pm – 8:30 pm | Museum of History and Industry
Seattle is known for its startup community, and we’ll have a chance to get a closer look at this culture and the role our tech history plays into our city at a special panel on January 25th. John Cook, Co-Founder of GeekWire, will moderate a panel of startup professionals who will delve into Seattle’s startup culture and the role Seattle’s high tech history plays. Panelists include Leen Kawas, President and CEO of M3 Biotechnology, Matt Oppenheimer, Co-Founder and CEO of Remitly, and Kieran Snyder, Co-Founder and CEO of Textio. Tickets are $10 for MOHAI members, $25 for the general public.