Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Latest News

A Summary of This Week's News and Quotes Featuring Urban Visions

  • A summary of developer Martin Selig's history with quote by Greg Smith. 
  • A discussion regarding Seattle' 'booming' multifamily industry with discussion on the proposed Second & Pike Tower.  

  • Information regarding the proposed "West Coast Green Highway Project" with quotes by Greg Smith & Stadium Nissan.   

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stadium Nissan Purchases 723,520 kWh of Renewable Energy Credits

We would like to commend Stadium Nissan for its continued commitment towards carbon neutrality; Stadium recently purchased 723,520 kWh of renewable energy credits (RECs).  This purchase offsets 809,518 lbs. of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, which is similar to:
  • Planting 3,440 mature trees*;
  • Eliminating the emissions created by 34 trips around the world in a car**.
 For more information on how you can offset your emissions, please visit www.renewablechoice.com.  

*   Per the DOE Energy Information Administration & Renewable Choice Energy
** Per information provided by EPA & Renewable Choice Energy

Friday, October 29, 2010

EV Charging Stations

One of the Level II charging stations at Stadium Nissan.
We installed some of the first Phase II electric vehicle charging stations in Seattle at our latest  project, Stadium  Nissan.  A lot of questions have been asked regarding the new stations, from what they look like, to how they work, to how we plan to monetize the stations (you cannot sell electricity from your utility at a premium).  We've posted a selection of links below to try and answer these questions and highlight the upcoming boom of EV charging infrastructure in the area. 

1)  What will it cost for someone to use the stations? 

We plan to integrate more charging stations into our properties later this year and early next year.  Many of these projects are private (in the sense that only residents and tenants can access the parking area), and the stations will be an amenity more than anything else (free charging).   Stadium Nissan, for example, offers free charging for all Nissan Leaf buyers as an incentive to buy with them.  At other sites, we may decide to embrace a model where the customer rents the parking stall while they charge the vehicle.  As noted above, you cannot sell electricity from the utilities at a premium, but creative business models will emerge as more EV infrastructure is deployed. 

 2)  What about charging in a public area?  

Public EV stations are in the works in massive size and scale: a $230MM capital pool partially funded by the US Department of Energy is the main driver behind this exciting news.    

ECOtality, a publicly traded firm providing EV infrastructure solutions, will use this money to place thousands of charging stations in select regions around the country.  One of the  select regions is none other than the Pacific Northwest.  Expect to see these stations, called Blink, start popping up all over Seattle and the greater Seattle region early next year. 

3)  What is the difference between a Level I, Level II, and Level III charging station?  

The primary differences are charge time and cost.  A Level 1 station may cost under $5K but deliver less than 4 miles of range per hour of charge.  A Level III charging station can cost up to $40K, however one hour of charge time may yield more than 25 miles of range per hour of charge.  Of course, these actual distances will vary and are based on a Nissan Leaf's vehicle efficiency (miles/kWh).  Our estimate is that like Moore's law, charging stations will quickly get faster, smaller, and cheaper as the technology evolves.   Currently Level I stations require 110 Volt, Level II require 220 Volt, and Level III require 440 Volt. 

Note that a one hour charge on the most common Level II charging stations would give a Nissan Leaf an estimated 15 miles of range.  
If you'd like to check out the Level II charging stations pictured above, please visit Stadium Nissan (map below), or contact us directly for a tour: (206) 262-2880. 

View Larger Map


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stadium Nissan Grand Opening

Stadium Nissan, our latest tenant and Greg Smith's newest business venture, opens its doors to the public today.  During a special kick-off event, Governor Gregoire will visit the dealership and test drive the all new Nissan Leaf.  As Governor Gregoire notes in the above press release, "Today's opening of Stadium Nissan and the roll out of the first electric car means a green highway will be a reality for Washingtonians." 

The dealership, which is targeting a LEED Gold designation, was built with sustainability in mind; for starters, the dealership is an adaptive reuse of an existing industrial warehouse.  The interior was sandblasted throughout and existing materials were reused wherever possible, preserving much of the embodied energy.  Salvaged materials from other Urban Visions' projects were brought on site, including old growth wood for the stairs and cladding, and old sliding doors taken from the Reedo Building project for office doors (similar to the doors featured here). Large holes were sawcut into the concrete structure to add storefront systems; this allowed natural light inside the space to warm the materials. 

One noticeable feature in the dealership is the HVAC system.  Large electric fans were placed throughout the space to cool (and move air); a few reznors were then strategically placed throughout for heating needs.  Though minimal, smart design makes the current thermal package sufficient for occupant comfort.  High efficiency lighting (reused) and occupancy sensors were also placed throughout.  

Another interesting feature in the showroom side of the dealership is the office; essentially its a large metal box clad in a stainless steel product.  The final product is stunning and highlights the Olson-Kundig design.  

Please check back for a full photo collage later this week.  

A special thanks to the project team which finished a challenging project in an amazingly fast time line:
Urban Visions
McCullough Hill
Foushee Construction 
Stellar Structures LLC
Nelson Construction
Fawcett Painting
Master Millwork, Inc
GC Flooring
Northwest Door, Inc.
Generation Glass
Insulation Contractors, Inc. 
GS Mechanical
Universal Mechanical Service
Precision Electric

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stadium Nissan Construction Update

Additional Stadium Nissan Construction photos below.  The new dealership is expected to open by the end of October.  Please visit www.stadiumnissanofseattle.com for more information. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stadium Nissan Construction Progress Photos

Our latest tenant, Stadium Nissan of Seattle, is scheduled to open late October - visit their site for more details or to learn more about Nissan's new electric vehicle, the LEAF.  A collection of Stadium Nissan construction photos taken on September 30th, 2010 is posted below.  Feel free to contact us with questions at 206.262.2880.   

Thursday, September 23, 2010

DJC: Smith Turns Over New Leaf

An article in today's Daily Journal of Commerce outlines Greg Smith's recent ventures away from Commercial Real Estate. Of significance is Stadium Nissan of Seattle, a Nissan automotive dealership he is constructing at his Stadium East property.  The dealership, which is on track for LEED Gold certification, will celebrate Nissan's revolutionary new electric vehicle, the Leaf.  See below for an upcoming Nissan Commercial featuring the Leaf.  

For the full article text, click here. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Another Look at Urban Farming

Back in 2009 we looked at Urban Rooftop Farming and its potential in Seattle: 

The Wall Street Journal features the concept's success this week in dense New York City.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Target Purchases 2nd & Pike Retail Unit

Adding to a series of positive moves for the Pike Place Corridor, Target announced on Friday that it purchased a 104,000 square foot retail unit in the Newmark Tower.  The new store, which is due south of the Hard Rock Cafe and West of Urban Visions' proposed apartment tower, is expected to open sometime in 2012. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Urban Visions Welcomes New Tenant

We would like to welcome our newest tenant, American Cutting Company, to the Colonial Grand Pacific Building. Occupying the corner suite on First Avenue and Seneca Street, American Cutting Company is a hip new hair salon featuring talented stylists, colorists, and even a “blow-dry” bar. With an anticipated summer opening, they will be a wonderful addition to the building’s collection of boutique retailers.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Developer Greg Smith to Open Nissan Dealership in Seattle

Urban Visions owner Greg Smith announced plans to open a boutique Nissan dealership this fall on property he owns adjacent to the new BMW dealership in Seattle’s Stadium District. Smith’s “Stadium Nissan” will be small but full-service, and will celebrate Nissan’s new all-electric vehicle, the LEAF. The dealership will sell the entire Nissan line of cars and trucks, and also have a full scale parts and service department. 

While current zoning prohibits dealerships larger than 25,000 SF in the neighborhood, city planners  are working on a zoning change that would allow a much larger dealership across the street in 2011.

For more information, see today's article in the PSBJ.

Monday, May 24, 2010

DSA Neighborhood Forum @ The Hard Rock Cafe

www.downtownseattle.com linkMail to robynm@downtownseattle.orgSave the Date! Downtown Seattle Association Annual Meeting 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Urban Visions Announces Sale of The Reedo Building

Urban Visions is pleased to announce the sale of The Reedo Building to Reedo LP, a limited partnership based out of Vancouver BC.  The $14,500,000 sales price works out to approximately $271 PSF on 53,600 SF.  The structure is 100% leased. 

Urban Visions finished redeveloping the Reedo Building in 2006; Elysian Fields leased the retail component and Starbucks' Corporate leased the office space.  The building, which was a finalist in the 2006 Office Building of the Year awards, is one  of the pioneers in Seattle's green building movement. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Leadership Forum with Greg Smith

Greg is the featured speaker at this month's ULI Leadership Forum.  Information and sign-up instructions are in the ULI announcement below.  

Register Now!
YLG Leadership Forum with Greg Smith
Thursday, April 29

The YLG Leadership Team hosts an ongoing series of events designed to foster professional relationships and connections between members of the YLG community and senior level leaders in the real estate and land use fields. These are small scale and informal events at which Young Leaders can ask questions freely, gain valuable insights from industry veterans, and develop professional relationships. Since 2008, Leadership Forum events have been held with many of the region's top developers, land use attorneys, architects, non-profit leaders, public policy experts and politicians.

This event is FREE, open to YLG MEMBERS ONLY, and attendance is limited to the first 12 people who register.

Join us for our next YLG Leadership Forum with Greg Smith of Urban Visions.
Thursday, April 29
4:30 - 6:30 PM
Offices of McCullough Hill PS
701 Fifth Avenue, Suite 7220
Seattle, Washington
Registration Deadline: Tuesday, April 27

Register online at seattle.uli.org or by phone at 1-800-321-5011.
For more information, please contact us at seattle@uli.org or 206-224-4500.

Friday, April 2, 2010

We're Hiring!

We have an opening for a full time accountant to handle all property, portfolio, and development accounting.  See below for a full job description.  If you are interested, or you know of a qualified candidate, please send resumes to info@urbanvisions.com

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Top Energy Star Cities in the USA

Energy Star - TOP US Cities

The EPA released its latest data highlighting the top 25 US cities with the most Energy Star Labeled Buildings.  The survey, which is based on 2009 data, shows Seattle dropped YOY from #10 down to #14.  Currently, Seattle has 69 Energy Star labeled buildings, equating to around 20.1 million square feet of floor space.  According to Energy Star estimates, this equates to roughly $15.4 million in cost savings.  

Topping the list this year is Los Angeles with a whopping 293 Energy Star labeled structures covering 76 million square feet of floor space.  Energy Star translates this data into cost savings of $93.9 million.  Note that Los Angeles also placed #1 in 2008.   

An interesting point is that the survey does not look at the ratio of Energy Star buildings to the total metro market building count - analyzing the data this way would change the rankings and possibly push Seattle higher up the list. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

New Book Released on History of SoDo

Dan Raley, local author and longtime reporter for the Seattle PI, recently published a book titled Tideflats to Tomorrow: The History of Seattle’s SoDo.

By highlighting South Downtown’s widely unknown past, author Dan Raley creates a riveting account of SoDo’s one hundred and fifteen year transformation from a “big salty puddle” to the bustling industrial center it is today. As for SoDo’s future, Raley looks to local developers like Greg Smith for insight.

“Developer Greg Smith envisions a section of SoDo becoming one of Seattle’s more progressive links to a future way of doing business. He has unveiled plans to create a “green” auto row along 6th Avenue South; […] He has met with alternative energy automakers in Silicon Valley. He has welcomed gas-saving electric bikes, motorcycles, and Segway scooters to join in this environment.” Quoting Smith, he continues: “We’re a progressive city, a ‘green city,’ and we should be leading the charge. We’re really the only place in the city that could do it. You can create tax revenue and it is win, win win. We have engineers who built the Dreamliner, the most fuel-efficient jet, and Pac-car, which builds fuel-efficient trucks. We have the brainpower here and we have the opportunity to create new industry in Seattle”(Raley, 121).

If you would like to purchase a copy of his book, click here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Second and Pike architect named one of 10 most innovative architecture firms in the world

Seattle’s Olson Kundig Architects was recently honored as one of the 10 most innovative architecture firms in the world, receiving praise for their “down-to-earth and sustainable approach to design.” (Fast Company, March 2010.)

Tom Kundig and Jerry Garcia of Olson Kundig Architects have been working with Urban Visions’ owner Greg Smith to design a 35-story LEED certified apartment tower on the corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street. The project, which will house 340 units and a destination sky bar, is part of Smith’s vision to revitalize the Pike street corridor.

For more information, click here

Monday, March 8, 2010

ULI State of the Real Estate Market @ The Hard Rock

Urban Visions is sponsoring a '2010 State of the Real Estate Market' forum on March 25th from 4:30 to 6:30 PM in conjunction with ULI.  Panelists for this event at the new Hard Rock Cafe include Urban Visions founder Greg Smith, Nitze-Stagen CEO Frank Stagen, and Orion Real Estate Advisors founder Rick Sanders.  Registration prices vary based on age and affiliation, but include food plus two beverage tickets per person.  Given the panel's extensive background in commercial real estate coupled with three very dynamic personalities, we expect this will be a very entertaining event.   The ULI event summary is below.     Click Here To Register

ULI Seattle YLG - State of the Real Estate Market: Panel Discussion and Happy Hour at Hard Rock Cafe

Event Start Date: 03/25/2010 4:30 pm
Event End Date: 03/25/2010 6:30 pm


Hard Rock Cafe Seattle   
116 Pike St


Seattle, WA
ULI Seattle’s Young Leaders Group is pleased to host a timely panel on the state of the local real estate market at Seattle’s recently opened Hard Rock Café, located just a fish throw from Pike Place Market.  Join us for an enlightening discussion with Greg Smith (Founder/CEO of Urban Visions), Frank Stagen (CEO of Nitze-Stagen) and Richard Sanders (Founder of Orion Real Estate Advisors) sharing lessons learned from navigating through several real estate cycles.  How do you spot opportunities for distressed acquisitions in a down economy while dodging poor investments  When will capital begin flowing back into the local real estate sector  How are investors and owners restructuring loans and deals to adapt to this new economic environment

Attendees will also learn more about Seattle’s first Hard Rock Café location, with tours provided following the panel discussion. Targeting LEED Gold certification, the two-story, 14,000-square-foot Hard Rock Café features a live concert venue, rooftop terrace, Seattle-specific music memorabilia and Microsoft Surface interactive touch screens.  Enjoy appetizers and beverages in the state-of-the-art Hard Rock Café while asking local real estate veterans your own questions for what promises to be a one-of-a-kind event!

Thursday, March 25, 2010
4:30 - 6:30 PM
Hard Rock Café Seattle
116 Pike Street
Seattle, Washington

Greg Smith, Founder/CEO, Urban Visions

As a fifth-generation Seattleite, Greg is dedicated to preserving Seattle’s rich history and culture. By integrating sustainable development practices into his projects, Greg directly addresses density, traffic reduction, sprawl, and other activities which negatively impact the environment. Thanks to the success of his South Downtown Vision Project, Smith aided in the rezone of the City Center and South Downtown districts. With projects including Millennium Tower, IDX Tower, 5th and Madison, 901 Fifth, and the Reedo Building, Greg has established himself as a respected leader in sustainable real estate. 

Frank Stagen, CEO, Nitze-Stagen
In the past three decades, Frank has played a key role in the financial structuring of large real estate transactions. Since opening Nitze-Stagen’s Seattle office in 1987, he has helped lead the firm in its acquisitions of a number of properties that became showcases within the community.

Richard Sanders, Founder, Orion Real Estate Advisors

In 2000, Richard founded Orion Real Estate Advisors, the real estate affiliate of Graham & Dunn PC law firm, to provide real estate advisory to banking, corporate and real property owner clients. He has extensive experience resolving the real estate problem assets of financial institutions, and has over 32 years experience in the financial services industry.  Richard has restructured, repositioned and disposed of bank real estate troubled loans and REO assets totaling more than $4 billion.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Urban Visions in Seattle Business Magazine

Seattle Business Magazine ran an article in their March issue titled "The Commercial Real Estate Crash".  Click here for the full article.  

"Broderick Smith, vice president at Urban Visions, a real estate development and brokerage firm in Seattle, says landlords and building owners who used high amounts of leverage in the 2005 to 2007 boom years may encounter an "equity gap" when it comes time to refinance, due in large part to tighter lending criteria from banks. Though a building may still be able to cover its debt service at maturity, other factors have shifted in the capital markets. These changes make it challenging to replace a note with terms similar to one written in the stronger climate, Smith says. Landlords will have to bring new equity to deal.

What will happen to the banks when faced with building owners and landlords who can't pay? "If a bank ends up taking an asset back, it may be less willing to unload assets at 'fire sale' prices after watching how much money investors made in the '90s buying bank-owned real estate," says Smith.  "Either way, we do not anticipate banks will own more commercial real estate in the coming years. The fact of the matter is that they are not in the business of owning real estate. They will want to get the real estate off their books."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gates To Address Climate Change

Bill Gates announced he is going to refocus efforts at The Gates Foundation toward curbing climate change; he now sees climate change as the paramount challenge we face as a planet.  Last week at the annual TED conference in LA, Gates declared that the only way to alleviate climate change is to not simply reduce our carbon emissions, but to eliminate them altogether.  According to Gates, the world’s climate emissions are the result of four factors: population, services, energy, and carbon (expressed CO2 = P x S x E x C).  But in order to achieve a carbon-neutral planet, we need to use nothing but climate-neutral energy.  Given current energy solutions, however, this is not yet feasible—which is why Gates has decided to apply his  mega philanthropic resources toward advances in clean energy.  According to Gates, we should be living in a completely carbon-neutral society by 2050. 

On a related note, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is set to open its new campus at 500 Fifth Avenue North (across from the Seattle Center) in the spring of 2011:  

 - Ashley Smith

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2nd & Pike Tower - February 9th EDG Meeting

The first Early Design Guidance meeting for 2nd & Pike Tower, (Project #3009156), was held last night at City Hall.  The project, a proposed 440 foot apartment tower housing 340 units plus skybar and restaurant, is being designed by Tom Kundig and Jerry Garcia of Olsen Kundig Architects under the guidance of owner Urban Visions and Greg Smith.

The Project Vision Statement is as follows:  

"The 2nd & Pike Tower will provide the missing link in the pedestrian intensive Pike/Pine corridor.  The project will restore this once significant corner to its place as an iconic landmark and extension of the region's ambition.  It will respond to its unique location and history with a multi-faceted building which is both transparent and dynamic.  

The southeast corner of 2nd Avenue and Pike Street was the home to the MacDougall Southwick Department Store from the turn of the 20th Century until 1964.  Once the center of the Seattle Retail Core and across the street from the Bon Marche, the area began to experience a downturn once the core began to move East.  The area eventually became neglected and urban renewal resulted in the destruction of many of the adjacent historic buildings.  The 2nd and Pike intersection has since been relegated to serving the retail core by providing surface and garage parking.  The goal of this project is to inject the site with a vitality and humanity it has not seen for decades. 

Urban Visions has established itself as a leading force in large sustainable designed projects.  The 2nd & Pike Tower will be the culmination of this commitment.  The building will achieve LEED Gold certification, gathering sun and wind from the site.  

A large street level restaurant and upper level Skybar with roof decks will further insure the building's engagement with its neighborhood and contribute to the richness of the Pike/Pine Corridor."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"A Student Of The Real Estate Game" Interviews Urban Visions

National commercial real estate blog, "A Student of the Real Estate Game", recently interviewed Urban Visions to discuss the company, sustainability, technology, and how these relate to the built environment.  Click the image above to be redirected to the interview, or click here

Monday, February 8, 2010

Urban Visions Launches New Website & Logo

Urban Visions' new website launched this morning - www.urbanvisions.com. The new design facilitates a creative yet practical browsing experience for our visitors while allowing our team to regularly update the site with new content. Please visit the site regularly as we continually refresh with new material and news.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hard Rock Seattle Is At The 1 Yard Line

Below are photographs from a February 2nd tour of Hard Rock's forthcoming Seattle location.

Make sure to watch their website and FaceBook page for official opening date announcements: www.hardrockseattle.com and Hard Rock Face Book Page

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Guitar is Up

On Monday, Hard Rock installed one of its iconic guitars on the exterior of the Liberty Building .  This guitar is unique in that it replicates the Fender Mustang guitar that the late Seattleite Kurt Cobain plays in Nirvana's famous "Smells Like Teen Spirit" music video.  Photos of the install are below.

Though Hard Rock has not yet announced an official opening date, Hard Rocks' Facebook page claims that the opening will occur 'sooner than anticipated'.  With talk of an early February start date, it's only a matter of days before they unveil their new LEED Silver location.

Get ready to rock, Seattle. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Urban Visions' Launching New Website

Watch for a new Urban Visions' website next week; most noticeable will be the new company logo, shown above. With a more user-friendly layout, the website is much easier to navigate and includes many innovative and exciting new features. Also unique to the website are the featured photographs, which were taken almost entirely by the Urban Visions’ team. Check back for updates as we near the site's launch.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hard Rock Cafe Job Fair

The Hard Rock Cafe 'job fair' on King5 News this weekend.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hard Rock featured in Today's DJC

Today's Daily Journal of Commerce features a brief article on Hard Rock's forthcoming Seattle cafe.

  • Hard Rock is looking to hire approximately 140 people - the job fair began today and will go through Saturday. Visit them at the 415 Westlake Building on Westlake Avenue N to apply.
  • There will be a live concert venue on the 2nd Floor, an open-air rooftop deck, dining area, and 'Rock Shop'.
  • Gensler is the architect. Shawmut is the contractor.
To view the full article, visit the Daily Journal of Commerce.