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Last week, it was all about the future of downtown office (and takeout). This week, we asked AMLI SVP of development Scott Koppelman and R.D. Merrill VP Billy Pettit how they felt about downtown's residential prospects ... and a little about takeout, too.
Scott Koppelman
For Scott (photographed here in a wicked snowstorm), the more rentals the merrier because Seattle can handle it. "Certainly more apartment units close to downtown can be supported, in my opinion," he says. AMLI Residential's goal is to expand its portfolio of high-quality apartment assets either close to or in downtown, Scott adds. They've already got the "close to" part down: AMLI owns AMLI 535 on Pontius Avenue in the Cascade district and controls a development site across the street. Construction on a 174-unit apartment building with 4,000 SF of ground-floor retail on the site is set to begin later this year, upon receipt of a master-use permit.
AMLI 535
Geographically, "we're focusing primarily on neighborhoods that are on the north side or the east side of the central business district," Scott says. "We believe that those in the age group that tend to rent apartments prefer to live in vibrant neighborhoods, and those vibrant neighborhoods have an attractive mix of service-oriented business and nightlife—bars, restaurants, and other amenities." (Other amenities that age group likes: laser tag, probably.) Scott grew up in the Chicago 'burbs, but sounds oh-so-Northwest when he describes his hobbies: yardwork, camping, hiking, skiing, and getting his takeout fix from MAD Pizza in South Lake Union.
Merrill's First Apartments
A conceptual drawing of Merrill's first apartments, the 101 in Kirkland. Capitol Hill and West Seattle have exploded during the past 20 years, and now Billy believes it's SoDo's turn for big residential growth. "When you push the limits to a certain point, there are few options left," he says. SoDo and Pioneer Square haven't seen much residential action; the one thing Pioneer Square needs is an increased density of residential rental units. Like AMLI, Merrill's multifamily portfolio is focused on unique neighborhoods surrounding downtown Seattle, and includes a development on Capitol Hill, a site in Ballard, two sites in Wallingford, a development near Fisher Plaza, and the Stadium Place project, where Merrill has been helping by attracting capital, design, and programming. When Billy's going for takeout, he prefers the U-District, specifically hole-in-the-Ave restaurant Thai Tom. "Best Phad Thai in the entire city."
As VP of both R.D. Merrill and seniors housing giant Merrill Gardens, Billy knows about all sides of the residential life cycle. The addition of six-month-old daughter Whitney to his family has brought two new revelations: "It's important to think the decisions I make today will help her when she grows up," he says. Also: "I need to find a way to schedule more meetings on the golf course." (We'd be happy to do an interview over a quick 18.)