There’s another big development project coming to Wallingford, this one on 45th Street.
You know those old houses between the Walgreen’s and Smash?
Going to be gone. Going, going, gone. In their place?
The project is the work of Mack Urban, a real estate and investment company based here in the Northwest.It’s the successor to Harbor Properties, which built downtown’s Harbor Steps (and also developed Stevens Pass and Mission Ridge ), but this latest incarnation of the company came after a partnering with the New York Mack family.
“This kind of mixed use building, in a walkable neighborhood, is right in our strike zone,” TJ Lehman, project manager for 45th told me.
The concept calls for 150 units plus three retail spaces with a retail patio along 45th Street, and 150 underground parking.
According to TJ, it will be designed to “creatively reflect Wallingford with real brick and other materials common to 45th”. The building will include shared studio space, a rooftop deck and a 5,0000 square foot outdoor common area.
Mack Urban is a long-term hold company, so the idea is that the building will remain in their portfolio for a long-time. From TJ’s telling, that’s a good thing for the neighborhood. Mack Urban retains ownership of the building, which gives it an interest in building something that has long-term value.
For TJ, that means he can think about the long-term business plan vs the balance sheet. For example, I noticed the corner of Interlake Ave and 45th Street had a patio with outdoor seating in the drawing.
“There’s a spot where it might be tempting to value engineer,” TJ explained. “But if you’re able to have a long, nuanced conversation with your partners, which you can if you have a family decision, they can make a decision like this. We can look for a client that doesn’t necessarily create as much rent, but we’re willing to do something that’s better for us long-term, but might not make independent sense.”
TJ tells me they’re seeking local tenants, as opposed to national chains to fill the space, and outside, on the corner, they hope to design something that builds “community placemaking, a ‘there, there.’”
“We have a really neat area to play with here,” TJ explained. :”Wide sidewalk, we set our business back 25’ from the curb and it would fit nicely with a sidewalk cafe. Maybe we could even fit a performance space in there.”
Further west on 45th Street, they hope to talk a Little Free Library in back of the bus stop.
“We want to be thoughtful about every corner and window. We want a handsome building. The Little Free Library came out of a setback that exposed the back of the Walgreen’s building.”
The footprint of the building will extend from the edge of the Walgreen’s building to Interlake, all the way to Allen Place, and then as far east on Allen as it goes on 45th Street. There will be a few daylight basement units on Allen, and private patios east and south.
This will leave a large blank wall facing Stone Way above the parking lot, so the company is hoping to get the city to allow them to design a mural for the space, something “authentic to Wallingford” “We would like to work with the neighborhood but first we have to get city permission,” said TJ.
According to TJ, the owners would like to create a culture around the building where “your default becomes something that makes you better. That translates into a million little things: sure, compost and recycling, but that’s all required. It’s making sure you have a quiet place to sleep, laying out apartments so they naturally lend themselves to less visual clutter, the retailers along the strip that help you have that great night grabbing a beer with your buddy, an exercise room that works, a lending library by the bus stop that helps people read more, setting out guidebooks in the common spaces that lead someone to take a hike, sponsoring the Wallingford Kiddie Parade, things like that.”
Groundbreaking is coming soon, around Spring with a target completion date of July 2015.
While the construction material will primarily be moved via Aurora, there’s going to be traffic disruption along 45th Street in the meantime (sorry, Ballard commuters!), but TJ said they will try to minimize it. The city helps align the neighborhood’s interests with the developers: “it costs an arm and leg to keep the street partially closed,” explained TJ, ” so we’re going to move as fast as we can. It’s better for all of us.”