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Second Prium condo project goes rental

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Dec. 28, 2007 at 2:54 pm with No Comments »
December 28, 2007 2:54 pm

Chelsea Heights, planned as a 78-unit condo project near Tacoma’s Wright Park, will join Prium Companies’ Hanna Heights as an apartment project when it debuts this spring.

The project at Sixth Avenue and J Streets is yet another victim of slowing condominium sales in downtown Tacoma and nationwide.

Chelsea Heights

Nearly 3,500 condominiums are available or planned in the downtown Tacoma market, according to a recent study by Tacoma real estate consultant J.J. McCament.

“With the downturn in the condo market, we have determined that it is our best interest to lease the 78 units as executive condominiums,” said Prium chief operating officer Pete Ansara.

Tacoma-based Prium earlier this month pulled its mid-rise Hanna Heights project at Sixth and Fawcett Avenues off the condominium market and relaunched it as an apartment project.

Ansara said both Hanna and Chelsea Heights are being marketed as “executive condominium” rentals.

“Executive condomiums,” he said, have more expensive features, granite countertops and hardwood floors, for instance, than typical apartment units.

Interest in leasing of both buildings has been encouraging, said Ansara.

“Without making formal announcements to lease the units, we have received a lot of interest,” he said of the Chelsea Heights project.

At Hanna Heights, about one-third of the 35 units are leased. Prium expects all to be rented by the end of the first quarter of 2008.

At Chelsea, Prium says it is negotiating with a local business to lease the whole 20,000-square-foot ground floor. That floor is office and retail space.

Ansara said the strategy changes were undertaken to cope with the changing market.

“While the housing market has slowed, and the credit market is tighter, we have been very successful at adapting to the changes,” he said. “Our diverse portfolio has allowed us to move very nicely with the tide.”

The high-profile condos which Prium has planned and built represent a fraction of the company’s holdings, he said.

“Our portfolio also consists of office, retail and apartments, all of which are doing very well in the 26 markets we serve,” he said.

Prium is not the only developer that has shifted from condos to apartments. The North Carolina-based Landmark Group, for instance, said it plans build apartments, not condos, in a 300-unit development on Puyallup Avenue near Tacoma’s transit center.

Landmark had originally planned affordable condos on the tract, the site of the former Spring Air mattress factory.

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