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It's Raining Apartments

It's Raining Apartments
Holland Partner Group will break ground on two new residential buildings this fall, meaning it now has five under construction in Seattle and is quite possibly the busiest developer in town. We caught up with Holland partner Tom Parsons earlier this week to talk building, weather, and good entry points.
Tom Parsons of Holland Partner Group on the rooftop lounge of Coppins Well on First Hill.
Here's Tom giving us a rooftop tour of just-opened Coppins Well, First Hill's first new high-rise in 30 years. It's named for Charles Coppin, who in 1875 dug a well on the site that pumped 900,000 gallons of "finest quality water," Tom says. The 2% vacancy rate on Pill Hill implies there's a good market for a project like this, and Tom thinks the atmosphere is such that would-be buyers are now choosing to rent high-quality apartments instead. His point: Where's the fun in sinking half a million into a condo and paying $2,000 per month in taxes and homeowners fees when you can rent fancy free at a place like this?
Coppins Well, the first high rise built on First Hill in Seattle in 30 years.
It's not just First Hill that's full; Seattle's looking at its lowest vacancy rates in several years. That's good news for Holland: in addition to 815 Pine and 1200 Madison in Ballard, it has three South Lake Union projects. Holland isn't the only company taking part in this apartment gold rush; a lot of units are planned for the next couple years, but not all of them will be built, Tom predicts: "Seattle has historically been an overannounced town." (Which reminds us: Bisnow has two apartment buildings in its pipeline. Details TBD. Spread the word.) Tom offered us this key to development success: "Get in early and build into a demand curve unique to the time. We got the benefit of lower construction costs and the benefit of being first."
It's Raining Apartments
Holland CEO Clyde Holland at the groundbreaking for 815 Pine last month. How did Holland position itself to build while the building is good? Back in 2005, thanks to skill and luck, it wound up development activities and hunkered down for a storm. By 2007, it had refinanced or sold its 15,000-unit portfolio to the displeasure of some financiers, who thought the Holland was "leaving money on the table," Tom tells us. That didn't last long: "Six months or a year later, they were sending thank you cards."
A man and a motorcycle on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.
This isn't actually Tom, but it could be. When he's not in the office, he can be found adventure motorcyling, which he took up during his "third midlife crisis." The bike took him to three of Washington's four national parks this summer: "I've seen more of the state in the past 120 days than I have in 28 years of living here."