A simulated view of the South Lake Union skyline in 2020 shows the radical transformation if all the towers planned in the neighborhood are built. Also: The Bellevue home in Dargey EB-5 investor scandal fetches $2.4M.

Share story

The past decade brought a burst of mid-rise office buildings and apartment blocks to Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, accompanied by a few taller towers hugging the edge of downtown.

In the next five years a whole new level of intense development is coming to the South Lake Union skyline — an array of 30- and 40-story structures that one marketer calls “a burgeoning multibillion-dollar vertical village.”

What will the north end of Seattle’s downtown look like once this phalanx of commercial and residential skyscrapers arrives?

A digital “flyover” simulating the downtown cityscape of 2020 gives some sense of the expected transformation. (Go to seattletimes.com/business to see the flyover video.)

It was commissioned by British Columbia-based developer Burrard Group and Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, based in Seattle, who are preparing to market a 40-story condominium tower in the neighborhood.

The Nexus tower, at 1200 Howell St., could break ground in the fall, with units slated to sell for $300,000 to $3 million.

The simulation, created by Weber Thompson and Parsons Brinckerhoff, shows 20 projects whose developers have applied to the city for master use permits. The renderings of individual buildings are based on those applications.

Dean Jones, principal at Realogics Sotheby’s, says Seattle residents are understandably astounded at the pace of growth in the formerly sleepy South Lake Union neighborhood, but it has happened elsewhere.

“We have to look to other cities, (areas) such as South of Market in San Francisco, or Yaletown in Vancouver B.C. — there is precedent for this much development to emerge in this amount of time.”

He recalls that 10 years ago, when his firm was involved with the condo tower above Whole Foods at the intersection of Westlake and Denny, South Lake Union was mostly “a place you drove through.”

Now a line of towers is planned along Denny Way.

Will all of those projects make it off the drawing board?

“Barring an economic crisis, I definitely think so,” says Christian Chan, executive vice president of family-owned Burrard Group.

The global trend toward urbanization, the tech sector’s surging growth in Seattle and the resulting interest of institutional investors in funding projects here all point to that direction, he says.

Jones says density and regional traffic tangles will create more reasons for people who work downtown to live there as well: “Much like Manhattan, I think in downtown Seattle we are going to feel like we are living on an island.”

— Rami Grunbaum: rgrunbaum@seattletimes.com

Bellevue home in EB-5 investor scandal sold

No walls, no floors, no sewer? No problem, in this real-estate market.

The Bellevue home that real-estate developer Lobsang Dargey allegedly bought with money diverted from his Chinese investors will be sold for $2.41 million to high bidder and local businessman Carl Behnke, according to documents filed in federal court Thursday.

The sum is 30 percent above the listing price, but with commissions and other expenses it’s likely less than 90 percent of the $2.5 million the Securities and Exchange Commission claims Dargey misappropriated to buy and improve the Bellevue property.

The house, not far from Hidden Valley Park, is a 3,500-square-foot, four-bedroom home with a pool, according to the listing on Zillow.

When surrendered by Dargey, who had not yet moved in, the house was in disarray from a major remodel, a court filing says: “ … The interior had been gutted, many of the rooms were without finished walls and/or floors, live electrical wires were exposed, and the sewer was disconnected, among other safety hazards.”

Nonetheless, listing agent Wendy Lister reported, some 75 brokers and 200 others toured the property during several open houses, and nine written offers were received. The sale requires court approval.

Michael Grassmueck, the court-appointed receiver for Dargey’s Path America and related companies, also has a bigger fixer-upper to deal with — the downtown Seattle hole where construction had begun on the 40-story Potala Tower before the SEC moved to freeze the assets last August.

That one won’t be resolved so simply — attorneys representing the Path America investors, Dargey and the receiver are sparring in court over how to proceed in a way that maximizes the value of the property while preserving the investors’ other goal: earning a U.S. green card by creating jobs under the federal EB-5 program.

— Rami Grunbaum: rgrunbaum@seattletimes.com