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Originally published Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 5:45 PM

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4 years on, condos still for sale at Four Seasons

Downtown’s ultra-luxury Four Seasons Private Residences this month sold its first condo in more than two years.

Seattle Times business staff

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A condo in downtown’s Four Seasons Private Residences sold earlier this month.

Why is that news? Because it was the first sale at the ultraluxury project since October 2010, according to county records.

Ten of the Four Seasons’ 36 condos remain for sale, more than four years after the building was completed.

But a sale at the Four Seasons, one of Seattle’s most prominent victims of the real-estate crash, may be another small sign the downtown condo market is bouncing back.

The project’s 36 condos, built atop a 147-room Four Seasons hotel at First Avenue and Union Street, opened in late 2008 amid considerable buzz. On a square-foot basis, they were perhaps the most expensive multifamily homes Seattle had ever seen.

Pre-sale buyers, including some of the city’s most prominent citizens, quickly closed on 22 of them, paying anywhere from $1.29 million to $11.4 million.

Then the economy tanked and prospective buyers all but disappeared, despite steep price cuts in early 2010.

The developer, Seattle Hotel Group (SHG), defaulted on its construction loan in December 2009. The project’s general contractor sued, claiming it still was owed $24 million.

The $180 million complex was at risk of foreclosure or bankruptcy until investors led by telecom magnate Bruce McCaw came to the rescue in early 2011.

Unit 1605, the condo that sold this month, is among the Four Seasons’ more modest homes: 1,329 square feet, one bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms, a den and a tiny deck.

Xiang Hu and Xiaokun Hu paid $1.4 million for it, according to county records. That’s 44 percent less than the $2.517 million SHG was asking in 2009.

But the list price dropped to $1.525 million three years ago, and the condo most recently was being offered for $1.468 million. That suggests the Hus paid almost full price.

Brokers agree the downtown condo market is getting tighter. Other high-end downtown projects completed around the same time as the Four Seasons — Fifteen Twenty-one Second Avenue, Escala, Olive 8 — at last are almost sold out. Some have raised prices on some units.

Brokers report some properties are getting multiple offers. And Insignia, the only big project now under construction, isn’t scheduled to be finished until late next year.

“The inventory’s about 10 percent what it was in 2008,” says James Stroupe, a broker with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “Buyers are really being squeezed.”

- Eric Pryne, epryne@seattletimes.com

Super-greenBullitt Centernear completion

A quick update on the Bullitt Center, the project now under construction on Capitol Hill that probably will be the greenest office building on the planet.

Developer Chris Rogers of Point 32 told an industry gathering this past week that the first tenants will move in this March.

And, while commercial real-estate databases show two-thirds of the building’s 45,000 square feet remain for lease, Rogers said just 1½ floors of the six-story project still are available.

He wouldn’t reveal who has signed on in addition to the three green-building outfits whose intentions have long been known: The Cascadia Green Building Council, the University of Washington’s Integrated Design Lab, and the environment-oriented Bullitt Foundation, whose brainchild this building is.

But Rogers did say one floor has been set aside as a “shared-work environment,” where small companies can lease work stations rather than suites.

The Bullitt Center, at 15th Avenue and East Madison Street, is the first commercial building that aims to win certification as a “Living Building.”

It’s been designed to generate as much electricity as it consumes in a year, provide all its own water and process all its own sewage.

— Eric Pryne, epryne@seattletimes.com

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