Eric Pryne, THE SEATTLE TIMES
Two of the Sodo neighborhood’s biggest developers are teaming up to build the second phase of Stadium Place, the ambitious high-rise project in CenturyLink Field’s north parking lot, and plan to break ground in summer 2013.
Henry Liebman’s American Life will finance and build the second phase in a joint venture with Daniels Real Estate, Stadium Place’s master developer, the companies say.
It would include a 23-story hotel rising from a full-block base that would have 16,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, a 376-stall garage and a health club. A 170,000-square-foot office tower would be added later.
The high-rise hotel would be greater downtown’s first since the recession, city officials say.
American Life, Sodo’s biggest property owner, plans to finance the hotel/office complex the same way it funds all its projects: by raising money from wealthy foreign investors who can get permanent U.S. residency in return for their dollars under a little-known federal program.
Work on Stadium Place’s mostly residential first phase began last fall. Kevin Daniels, Daniels Real Estate’s president, said that until American Life got involved, he didn’t expect the second phase to roll out this quickly.
American Life plans to start marketing the second phase to prospective investors next month, said Greg Steinhauer, the company’s chief operating officer.
The complex, which would cost “north of $300 million,” is the company’s biggest project ever, he added.
But, like the other American Life projects, it would carry no debt. Sodo Builders, American Life’s in-house construction company, will be the general contractor.
Stadium Place is being developed on what for years was the north end of CenturyLink Field’s north lot, just south of South King Street.
City and county officials targeted the 4-acre site for redevelopment in the 1990s, saying it was key to revitalizing Pioneer Square.
Daniels bought the property from King County last September. It is building Stadium Place’s first phase, with 10- and 25-story apartment towers, on the site’s west end with residential developer R.D. Merrill.
The second phase would be built to the east, across Second Avenue South.
“When it’s all done, it will reactivate Pioneer Square,” Steinhauer said.
Daniels agreed. “We want Pioneer Square to have a 24/7 lifestyle,” he said, “and one of the things that will do that is bringing a lot of people in from outside.”
Daniels and American Life are big property owners — and competitors — in the neighborhoods south of downtown. A Daniels sister company redeveloped Starbucks Center and Union Station. American Life, which owns 50 acres in Sodo, recently completed two office buildings southwest of Safeco Field and is building a third.
Daniels said he and Liebman, American Life’s president, started talking about developing Stadium Place’s second phase together over beers in a Sodo watering hole more than a year ago — and the more they talked, the more sense it made.
For one, Daniels doesn’t have any experience with hotel development.
American Life does. It renovated the historic Alaska Building at Second Avenue and Cherry Street, turning it into a Courtyard by Marriott that opened in 2010.
And it is financing and building a 23-story Marriott complex in downtown Los Angeles near the Staples Center, Los Angeles’ NBA/NHL arena, that broke ground last month.
The Stadium Place hotel, slated to open in 2015, will have about 278 suites. American Life is talking with several national hotel operators, Steinhauer said.
The federal EB-5 program through which American Life is financing the complex offers green cards to foreign investors who put at least $500,000 into projects in targeted neighborhoods that create at least 10 jobs.
The program is set to expire September 30, but Steinhauer said all indications are it will be renewed.
Daniels said his company and American Life haven’t finalized the ownership structure of their joint venture, but American Life will be in control.
Preliminary design plans are to be presented to the city’s Pioneer Square Preservation Board on Wednesday.
Daniels, King County and the owners of the Seahawks and CenturyLink Field worked out a deal last year to replace the 491 parking spaces displaced by Stadium Place with dedicated stalls in a Metro garage at Sixth Avenue South and South Royal Brougham Way.