BLAINE - In a sign that the real estate market is healing, activity is returning to a significant residential waterfront project. On Thursday, Aug. 23, groundbreaking was held to mark the restart of the Marin Condominiums project. The project is situated next to the Inn at Semiahmoo and looks out over Semiahmoo Bay, with the White Rock, B.C., skyline in the distance.
The 18 units in Building A was mostly complete, but the 18-unit Building B was only half finished when the property was foreclosed on by Seattle Bank two years ago. In June, the Patten Real Estate Partners of Naples, Fla., bought the two buildings for $7 million and has an option to build a third building.
After purchasing the property, Patten Real Estate went to work finishing Building A and has already sold six of the 18 units, said Joseph O'Brien, managing partner of the company's western division. Building B is expected to be finished in eight months, with up to 50 people working onsite, most of them from local subcontractors.
In total, it's about a $15 million investment for the company, more if a decision is made to build the third building.
"It's a pretty sizeable construction project for us, but we feel this is an out-of-the-ordinary oceanfront project," O'Brien said. "It has a lot going for it."
Patten Real Estate is in the business of looking for and finishing promising high-end residential projects, something that appears to be happening more often across the country. The financial meltdown in the fall of 2008 happened so quickly that it left plenty of projects across the country unfinished. O'Brien said they will look at up to 300 properties across the U.S. before selecting one to buy and finish.
"We feel comfortable with the first two buildings being completely sold," said O'Brien, who noted that market forces will determine whether a third building will be built. "We get the sense that real estate is starting to firm up across the country, including here."
Steve Moss, the construction job manager on the Marin Condominium project, recently finished projects in Florida, Virginia and South Carolina. It's an interesting job for Moss, who gets a chance to explore the country with his wife while working on the unfinished projects.
"As a builder, I feel like a kid in a candy store when I see a project like this," said Moss, who works for Liberty Solutions LLC. "These buildings are in excellent shape, and there's a lot of this across the country."
The reason the Marin buildings are still in good shape is because each had steel-and-concrete framing. If it was a typical wood-frame building, it wouldn't have held up so well, given the wind and weather in the area, O'Brien said.
"There's a lot of detail work that went into these buildings and the bank did a good job closing up the buildings," he said.
The price range - $399,900 to $850,000 - is about half the selling prices the original developers suggested at the time the project was launched. O'Brien said that, so far, a third of the people interested in the units are from Whatcom County, with the others from Seattle and Canada.
Reach DAVE GALLAGHER at email@example.com or call 715-2269.