Newly acquired Harbor Properties selling 2 West Seattle buildings

(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.

16 Replies to "Newly acquired Harbor Properties selling 2 West Seattle buildings"

  • Peter on Fauntleroy March 14, 2012 (6:43 pm)

    This is a little sad. Harbor has been great to Seattle. I hope Harbor Union will be similarly influential in development in Seattle and West Seattle. I am hopeful that retaining Mr. Onslow is a good sign.

  • St March 14, 2012 (6:49 pm)

    Losing good jobs is sad too.

  • cj March 14, 2012 (7:02 pm)

    I’m not totally opposed to this kind of development but at some point the neighborhoods do suffer from squishing in more people into limited space, not just in the building but in the neighborhood they have to live in. There needs to be some limits on just how many high rise mufti family units can be within a certain area. Hopefully before the act of quick building and quick turnover becomes an overly acceptable form of profit.

  • mike March 14, 2012 (7:46 pm)

    Well, that explains why Nova looks like it ceased construction … because it did cease construction. Hope they finish it, the boarded sides are starting to get hammered by wet weather and its an eye sore. How many more buildings will be started and not finished? Why does the city keep handing out permits for this type of construction? Sad

    • WSB March 14, 2012 (8:59 pm)

      Why do you think Nova ceased construction? I was by there a few days ago and crews were working. Almost took a photo as I knew this story would eventually be happening, but didn’t. – TR

  • Kgdlg March 14, 2012 (7:50 pm)

    Cj too bad the whole urban village model is fitting as many people as possible into these spaces! If seattle doesn’t take the density it moves outward which means more people on thw highways and more pollution. Either way, there are bad externalities.

    What this demonstrates is that these buildings are primarily vehicles for investment and profit. Sure, they build to local codes and hopefully contribute to our neighbrohoods, but first and foremost they are things people invest in. Right now this market is red hot because he returns here are so much better than in other sectors. How many 20 year olds want to buy a house right now? All those kids are renting and helping companies like harbor and urban build more buildings. Not necessarily a bad thing, but density is not just about the environment, it is about $$$.

  • Creekside March 14, 2012 (9:58 pm)

    Dear Harbor Urban LLC,

    Please purchase and develop this West Seattle property with market rate housing.

    Thank You!

  • Kgdlg March 14, 2012 (10:17 pm)

    Tracy do you know what is happening (or not) with the half done building at 35th and Avalon?

    • WSB March 14, 2012 (10:31 pm)

      Not so far. Another case of noncommenting developers…

  • s.r.y March 15, 2012 (8:03 am)

    Know them well and agree Peter. Hopefully Urban can learn from Onslow/McKitrick. Live near Burien, and would like to see Urban put some retail in that bottom space???

  • Marley March 15, 2012 (8:22 am)

    Wonder if this will mean any changes for the tenants? I live in Link and LOVE it- it’s become a great little community- we know our neighbors and hang out, watch out for each other, and even garden together. We might be a bunch of 20-somethings, but we contribute to West Seattle too!

  • Kgdlg March 15, 2012 (8:45 am)

    @marley, i actually think it is great that the housing crash is pushing more people to rent smaller spaces and live more frugally, often without a car. I feel that the lasting impacts on your generation will be very interesting to watch – the millenials are going to save us, in my opinion. often wish we hadnt bought when we did, but nothing we cab do about it now!!!

  • Mike March 15, 2012 (9:00 am)

    ah, my fault… I mistook Nova for the one at 35th and Avalon. Sorry about that.

  • kgdlg March 15, 2012 (9:45 am)

    @WSB, 35th and Avalon makes me so mad. If they don’t start soon, they are going to miss the window and the market will be over-saturated soon, and the building will likely sit for much longer. WHY buy a building and not finish it? I suppose it is all Maestro’s fault, but still. It is such an eyesore and such a great location, in my opinion, for apartments. i am going to submit a code complaint on it just in case, as i think some of the sidewalks around it are hazardous to people at the bus stop.

    • WSB March 15, 2012 (9:53 am)

      That’s the most recent thing someone e-mailed us about, the sidewalks. I will have to give the owners another try. Crews were working on it quite diligently for a while, and the guy who used to have Redline, where The Bridge is now, had even announced he was going to open a new Redline in its ground-floor commercial space. Meantime, as we’ve reported several times, a new larger residential development is revving up a couple doors northeast on the same side of Avalon …

  • kgdlg March 15, 2012 (10:25 am)

    @WSB, yeah I notice the permit activity for the Redline, but I believe that the building getting Cert of Occupancy is a condition for him opening. So, if they aren’t working on the building, not much sense in him moving forward either. The sidewalks are a hazard and I will be writing a letter to the Owner (just found the LLC contact online) about them, as well as filing a complaint with the City. So frustrating! Thanks as always for following it.

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