(WSB photo of Mural, completed and opened in 2009)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The new combined entity that includes what was Harbor Properties, developer/owner of the Link and Mural mixed-use buildings in West Seattle (both WSB sponsors), confirms they’re in talks to sell both buildings.
We spoke this afternoon with executives from the new partnership, four weeks after our first report with some information about what was brewing.
Since that time, at least two citywide publications have reported that Mural had been sold – but in reality, it was a transfer to one of the entities with which Harbor is now merged, as part of the deal.
Our conference-call interview this afternoon – following the circulation of an official news release – included Harbor Properties president/CEO Doug Daley, as well as Matt Burton of Urban Partners and Jim Atkins, managing director of the newly named Harbor Urban LLC.
They say the deal, a purchase of Harbor more than a merger, is virtually complete.
“We started evaluating a couple years ago ways to provide a return to our shareholders,” Daley explained. “The new, combined company (will) be able to do more of the same thing Harbor’s been doing” – primarily mixed-use “infill” development on lots within urban areas, as was the case on Link (4550 38th SW) and Mural (4727 42nd SW).
Urban Partners’ Matt Burton explained his Los Angeles-based firm has “had an operation up in Seattle for six or seven years … We had recently formed a new venture with AREA Property Partners, and the opportunity to make an investment with Harbor rang a bell.” He lauded Harbor for its “foresight.”
Jim Adkins says Harbor’s Denny Onslow, a familiar figure in West Seattle, will “stay and continue to run development activities on a day to day basis.” Their team has been merged into the Harbor development team, he said. Burton added, “We love what Harbor’s done.”
We asked for more specifics on what’s happening with Link and Mural. For the former, they said, it had a co-owner – “50 percent partner” – that had suggested selling it even before the takeover deal happened. “That individual had come to Harbor and said, Link has turned out great, it’s time to sell that investment, and Harbor had agreed.
While the properties are not currently “under contract” – “We are in discussions with a potential buyer.” But Atkins added, “In regards to West Seattle, it’s important to note that the potential sale of Link and Mural should not be interpreted as that we’re not bullish on the West Seattle area.” He said this area “would continue to be high on the list” of spots they’ll watch for potential projects, because of “all the things that drew Harbor to the West Seattle market.”
In case you wonder, by the way, both buildings are almost fully leased, we’re told.
And what of Nova, the 70-unit all-residential project that Harbor is building right now in The Triangle, on 36th SW just north of The Grove/West Seattle Inn? “The new Harbor Urban entity will manage it through construction and leasing, then will continue to manage it as a stabilized asset – there are no immediate plans to sell or dispose of it.”
There will be some job cuts as a result of the merger, they confirmed – not on the development team, they said, but in the “back of the house” departments, such as accounting, IT, human resources. (Harbor Urban’s offices are downtown, so its workers are not West Seattle-based.)
Their final message: “We’re planning to continue doing what we’re doing here in Seattle, just doing more of it,” which they expect will be possible because of the deal and the new “capital” ($) it’s brought in.