Vulcan cleans up an old laundry for mixed-use complex on Harrison

  • The developer says preserving historic structures in South Lake Union gives character to an area with so many new buildings.


Journal Staff Reporter

Developers do everything they can to make their new apartment complexes stand out, with the latest amenities, clever marketing or a unique design.

Vulcan Real Estate often tries to differentiate its new buildings by preserving some of their historical elements.

Vulcan recently opened Stack House, a seven-story complex with 278 units and 14,000 square feet of retail at 1280 Harrison St. The project involved saving the 106-year-old Supply Laundry building and a 140-foot smoke stack.

Historic preservation has become a trend in neighborhoods like South Lake Union, Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill where old buildings have been worked into new projects.

Vulcan has kept parts of historic structures on four past projects, and is doing so on the Allen Institute for Brain Science, which is scheduled to open in 2015.

Vulcan Investment Strategy Director Lori Mason Curran said the company chooses to preserve historic structures because there are so few in South Lake Union. They give character to an area with so many new buildings.

Reusing old structures also fits Vulcan’s strategy of environmentally friendly design.

“What is more sustainable than using the buildings that are already there and repurposing them?” Mason Curran said.

Vulcan gets buildings designated as historic landmarks before starting a project, she said.

At Stack House, the two-story, 36,000-square-foot brick laundry has been incorporated with two modern apartment buildings.

The laundry has 5,000 square feet for a restaurant and 25,000 square feet of office space. Its brick masonry exterior, smoke stack and original wood windows were restored.

The apartments opened in two phases last year, in August and October. So far, 66 percent of units have been leased, Mason Curran said, with rents starting at $1,400 a month for a studio.

Vulcan participated in the city’s Multifamily Property Tax Exemption program so 56 units are priced for people making 65 to 85 percent of area median income. Those units start at $886 for studios, up to $1,500 for a two-bedroom unit.

Units have vinyl hardwood floors, soft-close cabinetry, quartz countertops, Energy Star-rated stainless steel appliances, water-efficient plumbing fixtures, and energy- and water-efficient washer and dryers.

The building has a rooftop garden and two roof decks, as well as a gym, media room, guest room, conference room, business center, bike storage and underground parking for 305 vehicles.

Vulcan said the goal is for Stack House to use half the energy of an average building this size. The team is targeting LEED gold certification.

The building has bio-filtration swales and cisterns to collect rainwater. A high-efficiency reverse-cycle chiller plant is used to heat hot water, and there are green building materials, energy efficient windows, high-efficiency air-source heat pumps and on-site Zipcars.

Runberg Architecture Group designed Stack House and Exxel Pacific was the general contractor. Other team members are: two 9 design, interior architect; Berger Partnership, landscape architect; Coughlin Porter Lundeen, structural engineer; KPFF, civil engineer; O’Brien and Co., sustainability consultant; and Rushing, electrical and lighting design consultant.

To date, Vulcan has finished 5.2 million square feet in 25 new office, biotech, housing and mixed-use projects in South Lake Union. The company has 1 million square feet of commercial space under construction for and the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and another 500,000 square feet in pre-development planning.