Seattle local business news and data - Real Estate - Parkstone Properties gets ready to build modular micro housing

2022-06-21 05:35:50 By : Ms. Vivien Jiang

Renderings courtesy of Jackson|Main Architecture [enlarge] The building was designed by Jackson|Main Architecture for a site at 1008 N. 109th St.

In the 1990s, Daniel Stoner co-owned two nightclubs in Seattle — The Showbox and 2218 — and the experience taught him a valuable lesson: “I was not cut out to be a nightclub and restaurant owner.”

He said he went looking for “something more stable and mundane, and I stumbled into commercial real estate.”

Now Stoner is on the cutting-edge of two hot trends: micro-housing and modular construction.

His firm, Parkstone Properties, is preparing to start construction early next year on what may be Seattle's first modular micro-apartment project. The four-story building was designed by Jackson|Main Architecture for a site at 1008 N. 109th St. Guerdon Modular Buildings is fabricating the modular units.

“Micros are relatively new and modular construction is relatively new, and the two have yet to meet to our knowledge in Seattle,” Stoner said.

Geoff Wentlandt, a senior planner with the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, said the city doesn't have information about how micro apartments here are constructed, but he tracks such projects in Seattle and hasn't heard of anyone doing modular micro units.

Last year, Daly Partners opened a modular, but not micro, apartment building called ‘N'Habit Belltown in Seattle.

[enlarge] The studios will range from 225 to 300 square feet. Rents will average $750.

Parkstone's project will have 93 studios of 225 to 300 square feet, and seven live-work units. There will be 3,800 square feet of retail and 13 parking stalls, said Stoner, who is president of the company.

The site is on a bus line about a half mile from North Seattle College and a mile from Northgate Mall and the future light rail station.

The first floor will be built on-site, including the live-work units. The modular apartments will be craned into place over a two-week period, before work begins on the roof, siding and interiors.

“It's like building with Legos,” Stoner said, “very big Legos.”

Leasing is expected to start July 1, 2016, and rents will average $750.

Stoner said having a rectangular site near Interstate 5 with easy access for trucks is good for modular construction.

The knock against modular, he said, has been that while you save time, the overall cost is the same or slightly higher than traditional construction. But with construction costs rising in the Seattle area he said that's less true now.

Also, modular builders are motivated to get into this market, he said, “so they're trying to do everything in their power to make it feasible and successful.”

Stoner said he is impressed with Guerdon's experience, including a 444-unit modular apartment project called Domain that it finished in 2013 for Equity Residential in California's Silicon Valley.

Randy Duggan, regional business development manager for Boise-based Guerdon, said that since 2001 his company has fabricated modular units for multifamily, hotels and assisted-living projects in the western U.S. and Canada, but Seattle developers seem skeptical.

This will be Guerdon's first modular multifamily project in Seattle.

“We're trying to prove to the Seattle development community that the technology works,” Duggan said.

The North Seattle project is one of three Parkstone is planning here that will have what the city calls “small efficiency dwelling units,” with a small kitchen and at least 220 square feet.

This is in contrast to “congregate-style” micro housing that has sleeping rooms with shared kitchens, which was the model for micro-housing in the city, and which Parkstone had been building.

Wentlandt said that since Seattle passed legislation in 2014 limiting where congregate-style micros can be built, developers have talked with the city about building around a dozen small efficiency apartment projects.

It's easier to get financing for small efficiency projects, Stoner said, because lenders view them as a traditional apartment building “with a bunch of studios.”

Parkstone's modular project will be Built Green 4-Star certified, with solar on the roof. It will have a rooftop deck with a barbecue, storage and a bike storage/repair room. About half the retail space will be administrative offices and a lounge/coffee shop operated by Parkstone Properties. Stoner said he would like neighborhood-oriented retail in the rest.

His firm targets up-and-coming, but not-quite-there neighborhoods for micros because of cheaper land costs. He said he hopes his modular project will be “the thin edge of the wedge to turn this neighborhood into something better.”

The project team also includes DCI Engineers, structural; Decker Consulting Engineers, civil; InSite Group, mechanical, electrical and plumbing designer; KLLA Landscape Architects; and Evergreen Certified, Built Green consultant. Parkstone's construction division will be the contractor.

Parkstone is also planning two other small efficiency studio projects, but they won't be modular.

One is a three-story building at 714 N. 95th St. in East Greenwood with 41 units of about 225 square feet and bike storage/repair space. Opening is set for December of 2016.

The other is a six-story building at 3519 Fremont Place N. It will have 48 units of 225 to 300 square feet, 3,000 square feet of retail, rooftop deck, a second-floor lounge, and bike storage/repair space. It is slated for completion in January 2017.

About 18 months ago, Parkstone finished a 27-unit congregate-style micro project at 918 N. 103rd St. in North Seattle that Stoner said took just three months to rent.

Stoner founded Parkstone Properties in 1996. It now manages about 250 apartments and 50,000 square feet of commercial space.

The company has or is planning five micro projects in Seattle as part of its Cubix Apartments brand. Rent includes utilities and Internet, and most of the projects have no parking.

Stoner said the micros have lots of built-in storage, hardwood-like flooring and triple-pane windows. A twin bed, chair and table are available — if the renter wants it.

The renters, he said, think of their neighborhood as their living room: “It's a positive because they're only paying for the space they need.”

Rents for Parkstone units average about $2.75 to $3 per square foot, said Stoner, who added some developers are shooting for $4 or $5 a foot.

Tenants don't look at price per square foot, he said, but at livability, amenities and proximity to transit, work and restaurants. “Value is in the eye of the beholder, and that's the trick,” he said.

Many Parkstone renters have jobs downtown. The tenants include college students, service workers, people who want to downsize and people new to the area.

“They can't afford $1,800 a month for an apartment in South Lake Union, and they don't have to be driving in from Lynnwood every day,” Stoner said.

  Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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