Seattle Commercial Real Estate News of the Day

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Seattle Times Daily Journal of Commerce Headline
Monthly home prices rise in major U.S. cities, but just barely in SEA Rush builds 177 apartments on a site near Tacoma Mall
Consumers’ confidence remains weak in September Rush Commercial has started building a 177-unit urban-style apartment complex near Tacoma Mall geared toward professionals and young families.

Tacoma Mall Apartments is at 4303 S. Pine St., less than a quarter mile from the mall. The two seven-story buildings are expected to be complete in early 2013.

The Casey Group Architects designed the complex and Rush is the contractor. Anderson-Peyton Structural Engineers is the structural engineer and North Pacific Design is the civil engineer.

Rush said the complex will have one- and two-bedroom units averaging about 950 square feet, with private balconies and high-end finishes. Amenities will include a recreational center with a pool, spa, Jacuzzi, library and game room, and 236 parking stalls, partly underground.

The total cost is $26.5 million, including the land.

Rush said the complex should attract people interested in city-style amenities because it will be more upscale than others in the area, and close to a transit hub and shopping.

“I don’t want to say we’re creating our own market, but we’re kind of doing something that hasn’t been done yet,” said Matt Smith, president of The Rush Companies, which includes Rush Commercial.

The developer hopes to attract people priced out of Seattle and Bellevue, as well as people who work in downtown Tacoma or for the military, and those who would otherwise rent a house in the area.

Gig Harbor-based Rush bought the site three years ago. It decided to move forward because construction financing rates are good, construction costs are low and it doesn’t have to pay property taxes on the complex for eight years under a city of Tacoma program aimed at increasing housing near the mall.

Smith said he expects rents to rise in Pierce County in the next two to three years, partly because more people are renting.

Tom Cain of Apartment Insights research firm said the average rent in south Tacoma has risen 3 percent in the last year, from $801 to $825.

In an unusual situation, both vacancy rates and rents are rising, he said. The vacancy rate is 6.34 percent, up 1.41 percentage points from a year ago.

“It’s just the malaise and the general economy,” he said. “Things are slow. There’s not a lot of jobs or employment growth.”

In the last two years Rush purchased about 400 apartment units in Kitsap County, attracted by strong military growth, low vacancies and great prices.

“For quite a while the cost to purchase existing units was quite a bit below what it would cost to build, (but) that gap is starting to close,” Smith said.

The Rush Companies was founded in 1987, and has development, contracting, property management and investment divisions. It owns about 1.1 million square feet of office and retail, and about 1,600 apartment units in the Pacific Northwest. Rush builds and buys the properties and also develops projects for other companies.

The units are expected to attract people who like urban amenities because it will be close to a transit hub and shopping.

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About CRE Northwest

Specialist in office & investment real estate in Seattle & the Eastside
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