Vanke China signs a letter of intent to help fund a 43-story apartment tower just a few blocks east of the Space Needle.

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The largest residential developer in China has made its first foray into Seattle, agreeing to invest in a planned apartment tower near the Space Needle.

Vanke China plans to help finance the 43-story residential building planned at 600 Wall St., which is now a parking lot on a triangular-shaped plot of land next to Denny Way and the start of the Highway 99 tunnel. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, on a trade mission in China, announced the deal Friday.

Bob Kagan, the senior vice president of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Laconia Development, said it wasn’t clear yet how big of an equity partner the Chinese company would be in the $200 million project. He said the two companies have signed a letter of intent but have yet to finalize an agreement.

Vanke has invested in other high-priced U.S. markets such as San Francisco and New York, and Kagan said the company saw Seattle as a logical next step.

“Seattle kind of meets the demographics that they want — with the millennials and the technology,” Kagan said. “Amazon being three blocks away was a big deal, too.”

The project would include about 400 apartments, likely a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, with retail on the ground floor.

While Laconia has owned the land for the past decade, Kagan said the partnership should help get the project off the ground, and they hope to begin construction in the first few months of 2017.

“When you’re a developer of our size, and really most developers, you need institutional capital, so it’s very important,” Kagan said of the partnership. “And it’s also quite a big feather in our cap, to be with them.”

A Vanke spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.