WeWork cancels 36-floor ‘WeLive’ mixed-use Seattle residential project

A rendering of the Third Lenora building in Seattle. (Martin Selig Real Estate Image)

The WeWork fallout is now affecting Seattle, where the troubled company has canceled plans for its WeLive co-living residential project at a 36-story building in the Belltown neighborhood.

WeWork originally announced plans for the Third Lenora building in 2017, following initial reports a year earlier, with a scheduled opening next spring. The building, developed by Martin Selig Real Estate, has 384 apartments and 200,000 square feet of co-working space, in addition to common areas and retail spaces and a 5-level parking garage.

WeWork and Martin Selig Real Estate issued a joint statement on Monday. The companies still plan to open a WeWork co-working location in Ballard this December.

“As part of WeWork’s commitment to refocus on its core business, WeWork and Martin Selig Real Estate have mutually agreed to not move forward with the planned WeWork-WeLive Belltown Seattle project at 3rd and Lenora. WeWork and Martin Selig Real Estate look forward to continuing to work together, including on the forthcoming WeWork location at 15th Market in Ballard.”

The Puget Sound Business Journal first reported the news Monday.

In an interview with GeekWire, Martin Selig said the decision to cancel the WeLive project was “good for everybody.” He noted that his firm is still partnering with WeWork on the Ballard project.

Selig said there’s already companies interested in the Third Lenora building, both for the residential and office space. “It’s ready to be built out. We can start tomorrow,” Selig said Tuesday.

WeWork has been going through turmoil recently. The once high-flying startup canceled an IPO; forced its founder to step down; and is now reportedly laying off one-third of its tech staff. It’s also closing WeGrow, its private school subsidiary. And even its phone booths made headlines this week for “potentially elevated levels of formaldehyde.”

The company had a big vision for its WeLive communal living program, which first launched in New York City in 2016. The idea was to apply much of the same underpinnings of its co-working model to the residential business, while bringing both together in one place.

But as The New York Times reported this week, WeLive has yet to expand beyond New York City and Virginia, as two projects in India and Israel were tabled.

WeWork has a large footprint in the Seattle region and is one of the largest office space tenants. Earlier this month it opened a new location in Belltown. The company has 22 locations either open or announced in the area; that figure is up from 12 locations at the end of 2018 and 19 six months ago. WeWork also has a WeWork Labs space in Seattle.

The company is trying to get closer to profitability after its financials showed staggering losses. WeWork has 528 locations in 111 cities worldwide with a total of 527,000 members.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with more information about the Third Lenora building.

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