Union Station Seattle, WA
Nitze - Stagen's Involvement
Built in 1911, Seattle's Union Station, originally called the Oregon and Washington Station, served as a major gateway to Puget Sound until its closure in 1971, when the Union Pacific discontinued its passenger rail operations, and the building languished for decades afterwards. Nitze-Stagen recognized opportunities in the dormant but historic building and decided that the building's restoration would provide the necessary catalyst for the proposed redevelopment project. The rehabilitation of the Station had been planned by public agencies several times in the past but it was never executed due to the project's uncertain financial feasibility and environmental contamination. In an effort to amplify the project's economical and physical contribution to the neighborhood, Nitze-Stagen cooperatively worked with various public agencies and the community. Their respective vision and needs were incorporated in the revitalization plan. As an initiator of the project and by tapping into its undiscovered potential, Nitze-Stagen's success at Union Station has attracted further investment to the neighborhood.
In early 1996 Nitze-Stagen approached the predecessor of Sound Transit about the possibility of the agency's interest in acquiring the station building to serve as the "Grand Central" station of the proposed, but not yet voter approved, regional rapid transit system. It was too early for any commitments by the yet-to-be-formed agency, but in February of 1997, Nitze-Stagen returned to the newly formed agency and proposed a gift of the building to the agency for $1. While the political leadership of the Sound Transit saw the great potential benefits of the station, they were not comfortable with the agency taking on the development of an office building and restoration of a historic building as their first action when their voter mandate was to design and build the new regional transit system. As a result, the agency declined the offer, but authorized their real estate consultant, Craig Kinzer, to continue discussions to see if there was another approach that might be acceptable. In June of 1997, the agency's board approved an innovative public-private partnership whereby the owners of the station (Nitze-Stagen and Vulcan) would agree to renovate and restore the station to meet the agency's requirements for a guaranteed maximum price, and deliver a building that met the agency's occupancy needs for the next century. The agency would agree to reimburse the Owner for up to $19,716,081 in rehabilitation costs if the Owner agreed to gift the building shell to Sound Transit for an additional $1.00 upon completion. This allowed the agency to transfer all development and financial risk of the project to the current owners- Nitze-Stagen and Vulcan NW (including all responsibilities related to the building being listed on the National Register for Historic Places) and protect the public from cost overruns; yet be confident that the building would be completed by one of the most experienced renovators of older structures in the region. The resulting project was the winner of the 2000 National Historic Preservation Award.
Project's Economical and Physical Impact
The resulting project is a marvelous example of a Turn of the 20th Century architectural icon being brought into the 21st century as a high-tech office building, while preserving its original character and use. The transformation of the building was truly remarkable and is a shining example of how public-private partnerships can better the community. The project was completed ahead of schedule and well under budget. The project's renovation construction costs totaled $16,746,809, with the balance of construction funds being used by Sound Transit for additional building and equipment upgrades. The resulting structure was recently appraised at $26.7 million, further illustrating the financial success of the project for the agency. The building renovation project provided a catalyst for office development to commence with approximately 1 million square feet of office space completed by the end of 2002. This space is occupied by Amazon.com, Vulcan NW, Accenture Consulting, and Sound Transit (among others), resulting in a high-technology urban office campus in the middle of Seattle's oldest neighborhood.
While preserving and restoring the Union Stationís architectural and historical legacy, Nitze Stagen was able to contribute to the physical and economical improvement of the neighborhood. The increase in the office development brought back public activities to the area and street improvements were made to provide more pedestrian-friendly streets. Physical improvement of the Station, which is strategically located at a junction of three neighborhoods, helped to weave International District, Pioneer Square and SODO Business District together. The Union Station development will help further integrate the current International District transit station with the planned regional transportation improvements.
View more Construction photos in the Union Station Photo Gallery