Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Van Gogh Studio Lofts

Much has changed since we presented our proposal for artist live/work spaces at the Rainier Beach light rail station. One significant change is that construction costs are coming in anywhere from 15-30% higher than estimates at the beginning of the summer. That big an increase has a huge impact on a small project's bottom line.

Since we are looking at market rate apartment rentals, it was important to show investors a more profitable bottom line. So we have taken a step back, and re-visited our original designs for Van Gogh Studio Lofts, despite approval from the City of Seattle to move the project forward to Design Review and Master Use Permit.

I am still quite passionate about spaces for artists and other creative entrepreneurs, so we are keeping that vision intact as we move forward. But I have been talking with micro-housing developers about the options for this project, and they do look quite promising.

Rather than building over-sized live/work rental units that averaged almost 800sf/unit, we could consider creating smaller residential units of 429sf or less. This allows us to pack more units into a smaller space. We would then develop only the southern half of the 10,600sf parcel as Phase One, reducing our costs of construction and mitigating risk. We should be able to build approximately 25 units of this size on-site.

The northern half of the lot could be sold to generate liquidity for the project, or developed later as Phase Two.

The ground floor of the Van Gogh Studio Lofts project would include almost 2000sf for commercial activity, with 13' ceilings and great street front visibility. The commercial activity on the ground floor may include galleries, artist studios, community meeting room, an/or maker spaces that would be additional amenities to residents in the building.

I am meeting with different investors, developers, builders and architects now to gauge interest in this new direction. The proforma numbers certainly look more promising and attractive to investors.

Stay tuned for more updates as we move forward on this project. For more information, please message me privately at

Happy Investing!

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