Development Magazine Winter 2015/2016

Development - Ownership

NAIOP Honors Vulcan Real Estate With Sustainable Development Award

Vulcan Real Estate’s Stack House Apartments and Laundry Building, named for the historic 125-foot-tall smokestack and building on the site, met ambitious energy and water use targets while providing extensive “green” amenities.

Vulcan Real Estate received the 2015 award for its development of a mixed-use project that encompasses a full block in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.

VULCAN REAL ESTATE has been named the recipient of NAIOP’s annual Sustainable Development Award for its development of the Stack House Apartments and Supply Laundry Building in Seattle. The award was presented during a ceremony at the Commercial Real Estate Conference 2015 in Toronto.  

The project includes two newly constructed apartment buildings with ground-floor retail space as well as the renovation of the historic Supply Laundry Building for office and restaurant use. It encompasses a full block in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, immediately north of the central business district. Vulcan demonstrated a commitment to maintaining and enhancing the character of the neighborhood through ultrasustainable building practices, historic preservation and a mix of market-rate and affordable housing.  

For the 109-year-old, 34,000-square-foot Supply Laundry Building, preserving the integrity of the historic brick structure was as important as ensuring energy efficiency. To fulfill both goals, Vulcan entered into a partnership with the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development and Preservation Green Lab, an affiliate of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to pilot a performance-based energy code compliance path. That path gave Vulcan greater flexibility in meeting energy code requirements without compromising historic preservation priorities. Vulcan agreed to exceed minimum code performance (through actual post-occupancy performance measurements), setting a goal to reduce the building’s energy use by more than 50 percent compared to an established national baseline performance. Today, the building is 100 percent leased to Amazon.com Inc. and an Italian restaurant. 

The two seven-story Stack House apartment buildings contain 278 apartments, including 220 market-rate units and 58 affordable units for households earning between 65 and 85 percent of the area median income. The buildings, which comprise a total of 246,600 square feet, have been certified LEED for Homes Mid-Rise Platinum and were named the 2013 LEED for Homes Outstanding Multifamily Project of the Year. Vulcan has applied for LEED-CS Gold certification for the Supply Laundry Building.  

Vulcan engaged in a variety of innovative approaches to maximize the performance of the project. Low-impact materials, energy- and water-reduction strategies and partnerships with a variety of stakeholders yielded innovation that goes beyond typical sustainable development, including:

  • Natural groundwater treatment and reuse through the incorporation of swales and rainwater cisterns that have resulted in reduced water use and improved watershed quality.
  • Energy efficiency achieved through the use of air source heat pumps in residential units that both heat and cool more efficiently than standard equipment, as well as a reverse cycle chiller that heats water for the apartments with warm air from the parking garage.
  • A variable refrigerant flow HVAC system in the Supply Laundry Building that requires far less energy than a traditional HVAC system.
roof garden

A rooftop community farm maintained by Seattle Urban Farm Company offers free produce to building residents.

Sustainability efforts extend to bordering streets, where 12- and 18-foot-wide planted swales intercept and clean stormwater runoff from a 435-acre stormwater drainage basin on nearby Capitol Hill. The swales — the largest in Seattle — are filled with native sedges and rushes. The plants and soil remove approximately 92 percent of the contaminants from street runoff before discharging the water to nearby Lake Union. Developed by Seattle Public Utilities in partnership with Vulcan, the swales are expected to clean about 190 million gallons of stormwater annually.

Accepting the award, Scott Matthews, Vulcan’s senior director of acquisitions, stated: “We’ve been committed to sustainable development from the beginning, because it’s proven to have a positive bottom-line impact on investors, tenants, the community and the environment. Vulcan has constructed more LEED-certified  projects in Seattle than any other private developer.”

Leasing velocity and rental rates are evidence of strong market acceptance. The first of the Stack House apartment buildings was 91 percent preleased before the first tenant took occupancy in August 2013; the entire apartment complex was 95 percent leased within seven months of the second building’s October 2013 completion. Average one-year market-rate apartment rents of $2.83/square foot/month exceeded pro forma estimates. The project also attracted a small urban grocery store, located on the ground floor of one of the apartment buildings, which has become a significant amenity for both Stack House residents and the surrounding community.

The Stack House Apartments and Supply Laundry Building project had a total cost of $100 million, with $75 million funded through a construction/permanent loan. Approximately 16 months after completion, the project sold for $150.5 million to institutional investors advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Vulcan Real Estate directs all real estate investment activities for Vulcan Inc., a Paul G. Allen company. Through strategic acquisitions and innovative development, Vulcan has created a diversified portfolio of high-performing quality assets including office, biotech, residential and mixed-use projects. Vulcan Real Estate currently manages nearly $2 billion in real estate assets.

2015 Marks 11th Annual Award for NAIOP

NAIOP established the Sustainable Development Award in 2005 to recognize the growing number of firms engaged in environmentally responsible development. NAIOP and its member companies are committed to developing model properties adhering to the highest standards in the industry and believe that socially conscious development is essential to the economic vitality of the industry.

Entries for the award are reviewed by industry leaders. Applicants are judged on a number of criteria, including innovation and the economic success of the property.

For more information:

NAIOP Sustainable Development Award

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