5th March 2020
On the block: As new Nexus owners move in, Burrard is in no hurry to develop more condominiums
Vancouver, BC-based Burrard Group made a bold bet four years ago when they lost nearly $ 15 million on a corner parking lot in Howell and Minor in the Denny Triangle. Almost no one else – fingers burned and bandaged by the Great Recession – attempted a condominium project on this scale. The 41-story 389-unit Nexus on Minor Ave. 1808 is now welcoming the first wave of residents, and only about 30 units have not yet been sold.
These are mostly expensive units, from a low $ 900,000 to around $ 2.7 million, Burrard says. Sizes range from approximately 722 square feet for a bedroom to 1,750 square feet for a two-story “SkyLoft” corner unit.
The smaller and relatively affordable condos – studios and one-bedroom apartments – sold first and fastest. Some shoppers camped out on the sidewalk in the summer of 2016 to reserve units starting in the $ 300,000 for around 500 square feet. Penthouses on the top floors, 39 and 40, now fetch the highest premium prices. This also applies to the double-high corner units, which are notched into the “erosion floors” that separate Weber Thompson’s staggered five-box design.
Most of the remaining 30 or so units for sale at Nexus are expensive, ranging from a low $ 900,000 to around $ 2.7 million.
I followed the architects and several other guests on Tuesday as part of a tour of the Seattle Architecture Foundation through the luxury tower. Members of this trade appreciated the design work by Weber Thompson and the construction work by Skanska USA. This company laid the foundation stone for the project in early 2017. Nobody from Skanska was present on the SAF tour, partly due to the reported $ 25 million lien and the payment dispute between the builder and owner.
Planning for Nexus began in 2015 when Bosa Development’s Insignia was the only major condominium project. Everything inside is as luxurious as you’d expect, with quality finishes, appliances, amenities, a patio to walk the dog and an app for residents to naturally control the heat, air conditioning, door locks, etc. (Think Nest, but more bespoke.)
A poor woman who had just moved into her apartment was briefly trapped in the futuristic touchscreen-operated elevator by my group of design istas. She took it in a good mood, but probably thought to herself, “Tourists! Farmers! ”
The 18,100 square meter equipment area is mainly concentrated on the seventh floor, including a fitness room and coworking areas, as well as the “Sky Lounge” on the 41st floor, where SAF participants can enjoy wine and cheese. Both have terraces with the most beautiful views upstairs. There you can see the thicket of cranes and active construction sites that stretch west along Denny.
The views are fantastic – from Elliott Bay to Lake Union – but it was only now that I realized. All other planned 440-foot towers will soon block the view of many residents and create a kind of Manhattan canyon / keyhole effect.
Outside on the rooftop, the east side of the building is across from the noisy I-5 and the ugly 1980s Metropolitan Park roof terraces. But behind the ultra-quiet windows of Nexus, the view to the east to Capitol Hill is best protected. If you like morning light with your coffee, shop this side of the building.
I was impressed with the covered chrome bike racks outside on the sidewalk – spotless and scratch-free. Down there, a planned, publicly accessible café will extend into the lobby of Minor. There are noticeably no real estate agents’ signs on the planned bar / restaurant area on the corner. Burrard says an announcement will come later this spring.
Burrard’s Brad Laviolette said there should be more news soon regarding the Midblock location at 2407 First Ave. in Belltown, which the company bought from the Low Income Housing Institute last year for about $ 8.75 million.
A 10-story tower with up to 180 units is planned there. They will not be condominiums or hotel rooms for long-term business travelers. Instead, he cites Burrard’s story in hospitality and resorts in Canada, saying the unnamed project will establish a new corporate brand to be replicated in other markets. “Seattle is the first market. But we hope we can scale it up. “It offers short and long term fully furnished rentals with amenities, retail outlets, and a small number of parking spaces.
Hewitt and the Swiss company Herzog & de Meuron will include the project in the design review later this year. Burrard hopes to break new ground by 2022 with completion in 2024. Earlier announcements called the plan “an innovative new urban living concept”.
He’s not on Burrard’s land acquisitions team, but says Christian Chan owns a house in Seattle and is down here regularly. One acquisition that Laviolette clarified was the purchase of the old Salal Credit Union building on Dexter Ave. 1515 in 2017. The DJC reported at the time when the buyer could not be immediately traced. Burrard bought it through an LLC for $ 9 million; The recent renovations cost an additional $ 300,000 per city record.
Northwest Studio was the architect for the renovation of this 40 year old four story office building with Goudy Construction as general contractor. It has 23,920 square meters on three levels above structured parking spaces. Connor McClain and David Abbott from Colliers rent it out to Burrard.
This building was originally sold as a possible multi-family development game. Offices aren’t quite an outlier in Burrard’s portfolio. It also has two office buildings in Vancouver and San Francisco. Company founder Caleb Chan started golf courses and hotels in 1979, including some now in Whistler. The Bay Area, Vancouver, and Seattle remain the company’s preferred markets. “We mainly focus on the Pacific region,” says Laviolette.
That focus may not extend to any other high-rise apartment in the near future. Nexus was by far Burrard’s largest and probably most expensive project – valued at $ 240 million, Christian Chan told the Puget Sound Business Journal before it laid the foundation. The other condominium projects in Hawaii, San Francisco, and Vancouver were far smaller.
The roof terrace initially offers a breathtaking view from Elliott Bay to Lake Union.
And now there’s more competition in the small but risky downtown condominium market. The Downtown Seattle Association recently estimated that 966 condos are currently under construction in the downtown area.
My math is a little different: create the emerald of the world with 262 units; Da Li Properties’ coda with 203; Laconia-Vankes spire with 352; and Daniels Real Estate’s 800 Columbia St. with 271 units. That’s about 1,088 units in total, although these numbers keep changing. (For example: a buyer at Nexus combines two units.)
Hundreds of other condos are in the pipeline, from Bosa Development, West Bank, Concord Pacific, Caydon USA, Plus Investment, and possibly Arbutus and Onni, which could opt for apartments instead. Almost all of these names have international roots in China, Canada and Australia. Aside from Daniels, local companies don’t seem to have an appetite.
Weber Thompson’s Todd Mayne looked out the Sky Lounge windows and said his company was designing several of these new rental towers sprouting in the Denny Triangle. And all of them are built for condominiums.
So I wondered if if state law reformed our condo liability laws again, we could see another wave of condo conversions – like before the recession? When all of those shiny new high-rise buildings hit their 10th or 20th birthday, the paint is worn out and the equipment dirty, when all the old parking lots have been removed, maybe one day there could be more homeowners in the Denny Triangle.
Do you have a tip? Contact DJC Real Estate Editor Brian Miller at [email protected] or call him at (206) 219-6517.
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