Our Experience at Work
Legal Counsel on Innovative and Creative Uses of Condominium Projects
The traditional use of condominiums has been for the sale to home buyers of residences in multi-story buildings. Today, the rapidly increasing urbanization of the Puget Sound region requires creative solutions in real estate development and ownership. In response, HCMP has developed substantial experience and expertise in solving difficult development issues with innovative uses of condominiums. Examples include:
- Union Station. When a client was contemplating the redevelopment of Seattle’s historic Union Station, HCMP proposed using an air space condominium to create separate ownerships for the historic train station, the adjoining parking garage and a number of building pads on top of the garage. Today, the success of the project can be seen by fans streaming into CenturyLink stadium to enjoy a Seahawks game. Union Station has been revitalized. Impressive, modern office buildings cluster around a central plaza atop the garage. And the entire development is served by Sound Transit’s International District Station.
- Church Redevelopment. When a local church found its previously quiet location surrounded by the onslaught of development in South Lake Union, HCMP again proposed using a condominium to allow the church to sell off a substantial portion of the site for a high-rise development while retaining ownership of an air space condominium unit. The proceeds of the sale are expected to allow the church to build a new sanctuary to meet the 21st century needs of its congregation and to support the church’s other community services.
- The Lodge at Suncadia. When the developer of the Suncadia resort near Cle Elum, Washington began planning for its destination Lodge at Suncadia, HCMP was asked to develop a condominium structure that would allow individuals to purchase units within the Lodge while the hospitality operations on the lower levels of the Lodge could be owned and run as a business. Today, the Lodge is a popular destination for families on vacation as well as for corporate meetings. Each of the more than 200 residential units can be occupied by the unit owners or rented to visitors as part of the hotel operations.
- Home Building. Although most home builders start with platting a piece of property, that is not always the best decision. The platting process can be a time-consuming and cumbersome in many jurisdictions. In those cases, HCMP has worked with builder clients to use a condominium framework to create “condominium lots” within which homes can be built and sold. This approach cannot be used to avoid local entitlement and permitting requirements, but in the right circumstances it can move projects forward on an expedited basis.
Condominiums can be a valuable tool to meet the needs of land owners, developers, home builders, commercial building owners and many others in our increasingly dense region. However, the legal and practical complexities associated with condominium projects cannot be under estimated. With decades of experience in this arena, HCMP can partner with clients to identify their objectives, as well as the challenges they face, and then create a plan to help them achieve their goals.