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Development, Industry News

Vulcan Real Estate Named 2013 NAIOP Developer of the Year

NAIOP, the national commercial real estate development association, has selected Seattle-based Vulcan Real Estate as its 2013 Developer of the Year. Vulcan is best known for its work transforming Seattle’s South Lake Union (SLU) district. Vulcan has completed 23 buildings with 4.8 million square feet of space in SLU and has another 1,000,000 square feet of office and residential space in the pipeline. Vulcan’s current construction activity includes 400,000 s.f. for Amazon.com’s new urban campus as well as 466 apartment units. The company will also begin construction nearby on two more office buildings totally over 600,000 s.f. for Amazon early next year.

Rendering of Amazon Phase VIII, a 12-story office building that Vulcan will develop for Amazon in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood (image: Geekwire)

Vulcan Real Estate is the real estate investment arm of Vulcan Inc., which was created by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The company provides a full-range of development and portfolio management services including site selection, urban planning, build-to-suit construction, leasing and asset repositioning. Vulcan’s $1.5 billion portfolio of assets includes office, biotechnology, residential and mixed-use projects. It has delivered over 6.6 million sf of space since 1998, over 80% of which has occurred within South Lake Union, such as the mixed-use 2200 Westlake project photographed below Continue Reading

Affordable Housing, Real Estate Trends, Residential Real Estate

Micro-Apartments: A More Affordable (But Controversial) Housing Option

Micro-aparments are an increasingly popular trend in large cities with high housing costs, such as San Francisco, D.C., and Seattle. At just 300 square feet or less (some in Seattle are as small as 140 sf), micro-apartments are very small, but offer more affordable rent. A typical micro-apartment minimizes space through features such as fold-down beds and tables. Some have small kitchens, while others have kitchens and common areas which are shared among several apartments. By accepting less living space, residents are able to live more cheaply in high-demand areas.

A concept plan for three micro-apartments by R2L Architects (photo credit: Urban Turf)

The trend is not without controversy, however. In Seattle, where as many as 10 micro-apartment projects are currently proposed, neighboring single-family home residents have complained about the effect of added population density on street-parking, transit, and public space. Some have also complained that existing zoning regulations which regulate density through the number of kitchens in a building rather than the number of separate living units create an unfair loophole. Developers are able to build as many as six to eight separate micro-units sharing the same kitchen; from the perspective of the Seattle zoning code, these are considered just one residential unit despite being separate dwellings. Critics argue that this gets around the intent, if not the letter, of existing zoning regulations.

San Francisco is considering changing its building code to reduce the minimum required apartment size from 290 sf to 220 so as to allow smaller micro-units. Planning officials expect Continue Reading