Mt Baker Associates close $76M HUD loan for Stazione:25 by Suzanne Zahr

Foreign investors focus on the Rainier Valley development seeking opportunities through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

SEATTLE - January 24, 2018 - Mount Baker Associates LLC invites you to the first day of activities and site tour. Join owners, Michael D. Ross and Robert Spitzer, as they begin operations and lead a site tour for their overseas investors.  Site activities begin Friday at 10:00 a.m., hard hat tour starts at 10:30 a.m.  Stazione:25 is located at 2615 25th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98144.  

Stazione:25 is a two-building, 301-unit development adjacent to the Mount Baker light rail station in Seattle’s Rainier Valley.   

Project developers, Ross and Spitzer recently closed a $76M HUD 221(d)(4) loan for construction and permanent financing of Stazione:25 funded through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development arranged by CBRE’s John Taylor and James Bach.  Equity investment was provided by local investors paired with EB-5 investment from foreign investors committing at least $500,000 in job-creating accredited developments procured by Christopher Chen.   The developers are encouraging investment from overseas to Mount Baker, which has traditionally been a diverse and welcoming neighborhood.

Slated to open in the summer of 2019, the Stazione:25 property is nestled within a well-established neighborhood with a grocery anchored shopping center and the 43-acre forested Cheasty Greenspace park land next door.  Residents will enjoy the walkable neighborhood with light rail at their doorstep to take them to favorite destinations; Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field, downtown Seattle, SeaTac Airport, Capitol Hill and the University of Washington. Riders can reach downtown Seattle in 12 minutes or the airport in about 30 minutes.

The two buildings will feature three floor plans; studios and one or two-bedroom apartments with energy saving features to reduce environmental impact and high efficiency HVAC systems, elevators and low-flow water plumbing fixtures to improve indoor environmental quality. On-site community amenities include; a tenant lounge, media and gaming room, 24-hour fitness center, pea patch planters, a rooftop deck and 221 below grade parking spaces.

General Contractor: Osborne Construction Company
Architects:  H. John Parsaie and Jean Morgan, Morgan Design Group
Property Management:  Indigo Real Estate Services

About: Mount Baker Associates LLC is a real estate development company headquartered in Seattle led by principals Michael D. Ross and Robert Spitzer. The company builds with the intent to hold the project long-term and is committed to the LEED Gold standards of quality in design and construction and to creating strong community relationships.  More information visit www.stazione25.com


EB-5 investment inquiries: contact Steve Smith at  www.stevesmithdev.com or www.EB5CoasttoCoast.com.

DEVELOPERS SECURE FUNDING FOR NEW APARTMENT COMPLEX NEAR MT. BAKER STATION by Suzanne Zahr

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JANUARY 29, 2018 

by Will Sweger

Friday morning three well-dressed men stood in the rain and decided who would wear one of the two hardhats they had. Around them, local television crews readied their equipment. The three are part of the investment group around Stazione: 25, a new 301-unit apartment complex which will sit perched on the slope of Beacon Hill overlooking Rainier Valley.

In front of the rolling cameras, several amused construction workers, and an RV parked on a dead end street on the hill above the clearing, they proudly announced their team had completed financing the project with the approval of a $76 million 221(d)(4) loan from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The owners explained the Italian “Stazione” refers to the area’s diversity in hosting a community of Italian immigrants. Behind them, overgrown, rain-soaked lot sported a slatted chain link fence filled with graffiti and several piles of garbage.

Of the four homes that used to exist on the spot, only one still stands with its windows covered in boards. Trails elsewhere on the property lead between thorn bushes to former encampments of people living in a forested clearing. Tarps tied to trees, abandoned clothing, and an overturned kiddie pool mark their passing.

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The only remaining building on the property stands abandoned. [Photo: Will Sweger]  The pattern here mirrors that taking place elsewhere in the city—investment firms purchase land, then it sits vacant for months or years while they await funding and approval from the city to begin constructing new housing. In the interim, squatters make use of the properties as a place to stay.

Mount Baker Associates LLC started buying land on the acre and a half site in 2008, paying millions for property a short distance from the Mt. Baker light rail station. A contract rezone dispensed by the city allowed the two new buildings to stand seven and eight stories tall.

“The City of Seattle has been really supportive of our project, a little slow in the permitting process. They’re a little behind the eight-ball now, but in terms of their support for our project we were very pleased,” said Michael Ross, the Principal of Reve Development and joint owner of the site.

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A former encampment on the building site remained empty. [Photo: Will Sweger] Robert Spitzer, the other co-owner present Friday explained, “We all knew that this bench above the valley, tucked away next to the greenbelt and close to what was then the planned light rail station, would be a great place for a lot of people to live. Best of all, we’re building what is sometimes called ‘workforce housing,’ accessible to most Seattle residents, in a beautiful place close to transportation and shopping.”

The new complex will use the city’s Multifamily Tax Exemption Program, giving the owners a tax discount if they guarantee 20 percent of the new units will be deemed “affordable” by attaching their rental price to percentages of the area median income. The building will offer studio, one and two bedroom units with prices starting at $1,450 a month for studios. The 20 percent units will begin renting at $1,028 for studios, $1,344 for one bedroom units and $1,836 for apartments with two bedrooms—prices still out of the reach for many residents in the community.

The project will also take advantage of the government’s EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program which grants foreign investors lawful permanent residence visas for investing in businesses projected to create employment in rural areas or places with high unemployment. President Donald Trump renewed the almost three decade old EB-5 program as one of his first acts in office, and according to the Congressional Research Service, 84 percent of visas the program granted went to Chinese investors in 2015.

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Members of the investment group take turns demolishing a fence on the property in front of news crews. [Photo: Will Sweger] Christopher Chen procured $500,000 mostly from Chinese investors for the new development. As his family looked on, he took turns with co-owners Ross and Spitzer piloting a small excavator to tear down the dilapidated fence on the property.

Amenities in the plans right now call for a small theater, a fitness center, garden areas, rooftop decks, and a bocce ball court. The building will also feature 221 parking spaces in an underground garage. Osborne Construction Co. plans to complete the site in the summer of 2019, with the Indigo Management Company lined up to provide building administration.

Will Sweger is a contributor at the South Seattle Emerald and a resident of Beacon Hill. His work has appeared in Seattle Weekly, Curbed Seattle and Borgen Magazine. Find him on Twitter @willsweger

301 apartments start on Rainier Valley site by Julia Hess

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Stazione25 featured in the Daily Journal of Commerce.

June 2017: "301 apartments start on Rainier Valley site," by Brian Miller

Mt. Baker Station Associates LLC started work Tuesday on a 301-unit apartment complex in the Rainier Valley called Stazione: 25.

It will have two mid-rise buildings at 2615 25th Ave. S., just west of Rainier Avenue South, with a mix of unit sizes, from studios to two-bedroom apartments. Osborne Construction Co. is the general contractor and Morgan Design Group is the architect.

Stazione: 25 will use the city's multifamily tax exemption program (MFTE), meaning that 20 percent of the units will be affordable for a dozen years, pegged to varying percentages of area median income. Rents for market-rate units will start at $1,450 per month, and rents for affordable units will start at $1,028.

The project ownership group is led by investors Michael Ross and Robert Spitzer. The owners also announced a $77 million HUD loan to help finance the project, along with EB-5 investors.

Ross and Spitzer are working with developer Steve Smith on Stazione: 25.

In a statement, Spitzer said, “It's been a long road to get here since we started acquiring the parcels on this block in 2008 — during some very difficult years for holding, let alone developing, raw land.” He recalled 2009-2012 as “a pretty bleak period for mere mortals (versus institutions) to be in the real estate development business.”

They acquired the 1.5-acre site for a reported $4.6 million.

A subsequent contract rezone allowed the two buildings to be seven and eight stories tall.

Stazione: 25 will be a five-minute walk north of the Mount Baker light rail station, and have 221 parking spaces below grade. Amenities will include a roof deck, community rooms, garden space and a fitness center. No retail or commercial space is included.

The developers said the LEED gold apartments will have solar panels, high-efficiency elevators, low-flow plumbing fixtures, a high-efficiency HVAC system and other energy conservation measures.

The project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2019.

[Read the original article here.]

Stazione25 - A Transformational Hub for Urban Living by Julia Hess

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Stazione25 - A Transformational Hub for Urban Living - Originally posted on Suzannezahr.com, June 28, 2017

Located across the street from the Mt. Baker Light Rail station at McClellan and 25th,  Stazione25 will be the newest hub for urban living in the Mt. Baker and Beacon Hill neighborhoods.

Michael D. Ross and Robert B. Spitzer, the principal owners of the development, are excited that Stazione25, with 300+ units, will provide many families and workers with high-quality housing and quick access to Downtown Seattle by Summer 2019. Stazione25 will also offer affordable housing as part of the Seattle Multi Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) Program, setting aside at least 20% of the units for income eligible households with rents capped at affordable levels. On average, a family renting a two-bedroom unit will save on average $600 a month on rent.

At the groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, June 27th, there were 54 people in attendance, including the developers, architects, the marketing and branding team, the construction company, and a delegation of Chinese investors.

Ross explained that Stazione25 is part of an ongoing story of immigrant roots in the Rainier Valley. “For us, we are keeping the cycle going by having a project that's going to encourage further immigration into our beautiful city,” he stated. “It will help sustain diversity, economic growth, and all the things that come from immigration. It’s a wonderful thing and we are very proud of that.”

Suzanne Zahr, the owners’ representative and development manager, is responsible for creating the brand identity and managing the development for Stazione25. She speaks the many different industry languages, including real estate, design, construction, finance, marketing, and user experience. As the representative for Ross and Spitzer, Suzanne facilitates the communication between all of the various teams to ensure timely progress.

To develop the brand identity behind Stazione25, Suzanne is joined by Principal and Creative Director  Laurent Bourscheidt of L + B Design, who has captured the image and identity of Stazione25. As a place inspired by the pioneer spirit of the Pacific Northwest,  Stazione25's brand identity incorporates an industrial railway theme through a typeface that looks like railroad tracks, along with using metallic foils and varnishes juxtaposed with an eye-popping accent of orange. The combination of vintage and contemporary portraits seen in the marketing collateral are a nod to the rich history of Rainier Valley. Combined with modernist color blocking application, these images represent the changing neighborhood that Stazione25 will be joining.

Last week, we interviewed Ross to learn more about the story behind their brand identity and the goals that the team hopes to achieve with the creation of Stazione25.

Julia Hess: What most excites you about seeing Stazione25 come to life? 

Michael D. Ross: We have been working on this project for about 8 years. The Mt. Baker Station was planned when we started working on Stazione25, but even before it was built, we recognized the site’s value given its proximity to a future light rail station.  Getting each of the parcels [of land] under contract and then going through the entitlement process (MUPS and Contract Rezone) took a good deal of time. Originally, our plan was to simply get the entitlements and sell the property to a developer, but as the work progressed, we became enamored with the site and the project our team helped us design, including the branding. Robert Spitzer and I decided we would find a way to develop the project ourselves and went about picking a team that could help reach that goal.

JH: How has the Link Light Rail influenced Stazione25? 

MDR: We felt our branding needed to capitalize on the light rail station next door, since the first thing that attracted us to the property was its close proximity to the light rail. We studied how good development spots near transportation hubs are valued at a premium, and we recognized the economic opportunity of being adjacent to the light rail station. Rob and I intend to be long term holders, and we also recognized that the residents of Stazione25 will be able walk out the front door and travel on light rail to their place of employment throughout Seattle. Within years, they'll have even more access to other areas of north and south Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, and much more. 

JH:  How did the process of developing your brand identity shape your vision for the project?  

MDR: Vice versa, actually! The process of developing the project informed the brand, especially with its proximity to the Mt. Baker Station. The diversity in the Mt. Baker Station area was already reflected in the ownership of the properties we acquired. It was background and the stories of the property owners that deeply inspired our brand identity, and it was remarkable to hear everything they had to share. We wanted our brand to latch onto a piece of that story.  

JH:  How does the brand identity behind Stazione25 celebrate the diversity and community of the neighborhood?  

MDR: Several of our sellers were descendants of the original Italian American families that settled in the Rainier Valley. That Italian heritage is still pretty clearly reflected in some of the notable retailers and businesses in the Rainier Valley. We paired that heritage with the proximity to the rail line in developing the Stazione25 brand. Incidentally, my father’s family (Jewish immigrants from Belarus) also settled in the Rainier Valley after leaving Minot, North Dakota, so I feel a connection to this area. All of this diversity can be seen in our branding, combining an industrial style with a contemporary feel.

JH: What are your thoughts on the changing dynamics of the Mt. Baker / Rainier Beach neighborhood? 

MDR: We hope that we are enhancing the neighborhood, not changing it. Our project, while market rate, is intended to serve the work force. We hope it will help to activate the neighborhood by attracting tenants who thrive in a multicultural area and who will attract businesses to serve their needs.

Written by Julia Hess