An ambitious plan to redevelop part of Qwest Field's north parking lot, considered key to Seattle's Pioneer Square, should finally break ground this year, the developer says

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An ambitious plan, years in the making, to redevelop part of Qwest Field’s sprawling north parking lot should finally break ground this year, the developer says.

Daniels Real Estate President Kevin Daniels said his firm expects to start environmental cleanup work on the four-acre property in late summer, then begin digging for the foundation of the project’s first phase by late fall.

First up: a four-story building at Occidental Avenue South and South King Street with 19,000 square feet of retail, 48 apartments and a garage with 360 to 380 stalls.

The building would serve as a podium, or base, for two towers — one an additional six stories, the other an additional 21 floors — with 444 more apartments.

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While construction of the podium is a near-certainty “subject to the world changing,” Daniels said, construction of the towers isn’t quite as solid. “We just want to see a couple more things from the [debt] market,” he said, noting that the project still must obtain construction financing.

But demand for apartments is surging while few new buildings are coming to market, he said, and that bodes well for apartment development for at least the next two or three years.

Altogether, Daniels has proposed 1.5 million square feet of development on the northern half of the north lot, including another 225-unit condo or apartment tower and a 420,000-square-foot office tower.

A decision on those phases won’t come until 2013 at the earliest, Daniels said.

The north lot redevelopment — especially its housing component — is considered a key to revitalizing the Pioneer Square neighborhood. King County, which owns the property, agreed to sell it to Daniels in 2007, and the Seattle City Council approved needed zoning changes two years later.

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or epryne@seattletimes.com