Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Dec. 7, 2022

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University of Washington housing deal may add hundreds of new apartments near Seattle campus


As the University of Washington seeks funding to renovate on-campus dorms, several of its off-campus apartment complexes could see a dramatic transformation.

The university is looking to lease four properties near its Seattle campus to a private or nonprofit student housing developer and operator. Two of those sites are slated for redevelopment that would add hundreds more student apartments.

Even as UW enrollment has stayed essentially flat in recent years, the university says students face waitlists for on-campus housing, and some are turned away each year. Near the university, a building boom is underway, including 2,300 new apartments in the works around University Village. Meanwhile, on-campus dorms need upgrades.

To tap into the building boom and generate funds for on-campus work, the university plans to offer long-term ground leases for the four sites. A developer would pay the university for those leases and take on redevelopment, renovations and running the off-campus housing. Long-term leases typically run 30 to 80 years, according to the UW.

On offer are Blakeley Village and Nordheim Court, both just next to University Village, as well as Laurel Village, about a half mile away, and Radford Court near Magnuson Park.

Blakeley Village and Laurel Village both offer 80-unit low-rise garden-style apartments built in the 1980s and pitched for redevelopment. Today, both house student families.

Under the university’s plan, Blakeley Village could be replaced by 250 apartments. A promotional brochure from the commercial real estate company CBRE pitches the site next to University Village as a “generational redevelopment opportunity.”

At Laurel Village, the UW is seeking 320 apartments, half of them two- and three-bedrooms for student families making half of area median income, or roughly $58,000 for a family of three.

The builder would be required to replace the child care center on the site. Lease revenue would fund the subsidized housing and child care center.

The other two properties are newer and are expected to be renovated or expanded, rather than replaced.

Radford Court, near Magnuson Park, has 399 apartments on 22 acres of land with potential for hundreds more apartments in the future. Current zoning allows apartment buildings of up to 40 feet on the property, according to the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections. The university estimates a developer could add up to 1,500 new apartments “for students, faculty and staff” at the site.

Other than some apartments at Laurel Village, most rents would likely be market-rate.

Exact financial details of the deal remain to be seen. The university plans to select a developer in January and finalize the agreement by next fall.

Potential revenue to the university could reach $170 million upfront and $2.25 million a year, according to documents provided by UW staff to the Board of Regents last week. The university expects to receive the upfront revenue in the summer of 2024 and redevelopment could begin that year or in 2025.