Last Sunday in this space we told you of a proposed 35-story hotel-condo tower on First Avenue in downtown Seattle that announced itself not by filing applications for city permits or issuing a news release, but by advertising two unbuilt, unpermitted penthouse units for sale with the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

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Last Sunday in this space we told you of a proposed 35-story hotel-condo tower on First Avenue in downtown Seattle that announced itself not by filing applications for city permits or issuing a news release, but by advertising two unbuilt, unpermitted penthouse units for sale with the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

City planners and people who follow downtown development knew nothing of the project. We dubbed it the “Mystery Tower.”

Now it’s a little less mysterious.

Turns out the listing agent, Breffni McGeough, also is a principal in a four-person partnership that he says has a tentative deal to buy the property, at 1012 First Ave., from its longtime owners. He won’t identify the other three, but says they’re all old hands at downtown development.

He says they’re just getting started. They’ve been meeting with potential developers and hotel operators, he says, and have begun talking to city planners — although there’s still nothing on file in the Department of Planning and Development’s online database.

While the two penthouses are available in shell condition for $1.75 million apiece, McGeough says you can reserve one of the other 23 condos, starting at 3,000 square feet, for $25,000 — fully refundable. But construction won’t start until spring 2010, he adds — and that’s if there are no hitches.

One potential complication: the building already on the site, on First between Madison and Spring streets. It’s a six-story structure built around 1900 as a furniture store. The current tenant: Taboo Adult Video.

While the building isn’t a designated historic landmark, a city inventory of old downtown buildings, completed last year, called it “remarkably intact,” and said it was a “particularly well-preserved example of an early specialty store” that “appears to meet criteria for landmark status.”

If it is designated, that won’t necessarily kill the proposed tower. Landmark buildings have been integrated into new projects elsewhere in the city.

— Eric Pryne

A new record:

$11.4 million

condo, unfinished

Meanwhile, a few blocks up First Avenue at the nearly finished, ultraluxury Four Seasons Hotel & Residences, someone bought the most expensive condo in Seattle’s history last week.

Good luck finding out who.

Something called the “Western View Trust” closed on Unit 1703, paying nearly $11.4 million. (Topping the previous record of $8.4 million in January for a unit in the 27-story One Pacific Tower at First and Virginia.)

The lawyer listed as the trustee on sale documents filed with King County, Jesse Franklin of K&L Gates, politely declined comment, saying he was “not at liberty to discuss the private matters of my clients.” And Four Seasons spokesman Roger Nyhus wouldn’t say who the buyer is.

“That’s part of the Four Seasons mystique,” he said.

But Nyhus did say all three condos sold so far have been purchased as unfinished, “shell and core” units.

That means Mr. or Ms. Western View Trust will be spending even more money fixing up their new digs before they can move in.

— Eric Pryne

A power struggle

for three counties

Energy independence could be expensive for three counties in Washington seeking to secede from the grasp of Puget Sound Energy’s grid, according to an analysis commissioned by the Bellevue-based utility, Washington’s largest.

Hardy Energy Consulting said that proposed new public-utility districts in Skagit, Island and Jefferson counties would see electric rates increase by up to 50 percent, while they wait for cheaper power from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).

The wait could take years, and the newly independent districts would have to buy their electricity in the open market, according to the study.

At the same time, increased competition for BPA power would increase rates for already-existing districts, the study said.

The study, announced this past Wednesday in a Puget Sound Energy news release, is the utility’s latest shot at local ballot proposals to create several publicly run local electric providers in areas currently served by PSE.

The attempts to create the new PUDs, to be voted on in November, come amid a proposed $7.8 billion takeover of the utility by an international consortium of investors led by Australian investment bank Macquarie.

A decision on that deal is expected next month by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, which considers such factors as rate stability, service reliability and customer service.

Ed Jenkins, a spokesman for the proposed Island County PUD on Whidbey Island, said the PSE-backed study’s conclusions are wrong. Independent public-utility districts would be able to acquire power more cheaply in the open market than large publicly-owned utilities like PSE because they would have lower costs and better credit ratings, he said. “They do this strictly to scare people,” he said of the study.

— Ángel González

Comments? Send them to Rami Grunbaum: rgrunbaum@-

seattletimes.com or 206-464-8541