Published February 2006

Real Estate Briefs

Lake Stevens shopping center
has new owner

The shopping center at the heart of downtown Lake Stevens has a new owner, a Seattle-based property firm that paid more than $3.8 million for the site.

Main Street Center, across from Lake Stevens City Hall, hosts Jay’s Market, a True Value hardware store, Wells Fargo Bank and a number of other businesses. It previously was owned by Paul Hartsock and Henry James.

“It’s been an excellent property for us. It’s just for personal reasons we decided to sell,” Hartsock said.

The new owner is Limantzakis Properties, which owns other real estate around Seattle. This is the company’s first purchase in Snohomish County, though the Limantzakis family is familiar with the owners of the neighboring Neapolis restaurant.

Johnny Limantzakis said the central location of the 3-acre shopping center and the demographics of Lake Stevens made Main Street Center an attractive investment.

He said no immediate changes are planned. Instead, he is focused on attracting tenants for two empty storefronts.

Limantzakis said he has heard of the conceptual plan for redeveloping downtown Lake Stevens, but he hasn’t yet met with city or chamber officials. He said he would be open to hearing how the property fits into the concept for an improved downtown.

Edmonds condo-retail building
to be rebuilt following fire

Developer Bob Gregg said he will reconstruct The Gregory, a 90,000-square-foot, 28-unit condominium and retail building, exactly as it was before it was destroyed by fire Dec. 17.

The building, at 505 Fifth Ave. in Edmonds, was 80 percent complete and scheduled to open in March when it burned. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

The building was insured, Gregg said, though he has yet to receive word on how much he will be reimbursed. His insurance company, Liberty Mutual, estimated the loss at $4.5 million.

Gregg said he expected to have all the debris from the fire removed in January and to be able to start work by Feb. 1.

The concrete foundation is intact, he said, meaning the preparatory phase that took nearly a year to finish will not have to be done again. The building could be finished by September, he added.

“We’re working with the city and trying to find the fastest way to do it with the least amount of disruption,” he said.

Gregg said he will send out a letter to people who have bought units in the building, informing them of the plans to rebuild. Twenty-five of the 28 units have been sold, and only one buyer backed out after the fire, he said.

Commercial real estate agents
optimistic about 2006

Commercial property firms have released their Snohomish County vacancy reports for year-end 2005, and while the numbers vary among them, optimism for the year ahead is similar across the board.

In January, Cushman & Wakefield reported that Snohomish County ended 2005 with 16.5 percent of its office space sitting empty. That compares with 14.4 percent at the end of 2004. For industrial and warehouse space, the vacancy rate was 13.1 percent, an improvement from 16.6 percent at the end of the previous year.

Meanwhile, Colliers International reported office vacancy at 14.1 percent at the end of 2005, down from 14.73 percent, while the industrial vacancy was 17.5 percent, down from nearly 22 percent.

Gregg Riva, senior vice president at Colliers International in Lynnwood, said potential tenants are making more inquiries in Snohomish County, noting that in 2005, Colliers handled more transactions than the year before and that the trend “seems to be good.”

“I haven’t seen things this positive in the last three years,” added Gary Bullington, a director at Cushman & Wakefield in Seattle.

He said several things are happening to turn around several consecutive years of double-digit vacancy rates. Primary among those is Bellevue’s boom, which already has rippled across other suburban areas.

At the same time, suppliers for the Boeing Co. are hunting for space near the aerospace giant’s Everett plant. Last year, Teague, Smiths Aerospace and Messier-Bugatti all leased industrial or office space in the county.

Home sales slow but prices remain high
Snohomish County home sales slowed significantly in December, capping off a year stronger than most in recent history.

Continuing a trend that started in early summer, December showed a sizable drop in the number of homes on the Snohomish County market. Fewer than a thousand were added, a nearly 10 percent drop in comparison to December 2004, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Pending home sales also fell significantly in December, dropping 11.63 percent in comparison to a year ago. Actual sales dropped about 2 percent.

About the only category in home sales that didn’t change was prices.

The combined median price for condominiums and single-family homes in December was $299,000, up nearly 20 percent from a year ago. In midsummer, the median price had climbed to about $311,000.

J. Lennox Scott, CEO of John L. Scott Realty, said the holiday slowdown likely will lift in the spring, when sellers typically put their homes on the market.

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