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2017 Summer Internships: Matt Farrell, Greystar Construction and Development

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Matthew Farrell

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After an exciting internship last summer doing development work for Walmart, I approached the summer of 2017 with high hopes. I knew that I wanted to work in multifamily development, as that has always been my post-graduation game plan. I also knew that I wanted to work in an exciting and vibrant market that was expanding and had strong long-term growth potential. Most important of all, it had to be a city where I could be excited to settle down with my family after our time in Ithaca. For me the answer was obvious, and I focused all of my attention on Seattle.

Office and Multifamily development in Downtown Seattle. Seen from the new Greystar office at 800 5th Avenue.

When I visited Seattle back in February, I thought I was mentally prepared for what I would find. I had heard many of stories about the development boom that was underway. I had also spoken with dozens of real estate professionals and read hundreds of articles with titles such as “Seattle has highest crane count in the U.S.” (which was just recently confirmed for the second year in a row). But stories and numbers on paper can only paint half of a picture. The reality was more than I ever expected. When driving around downtown, and particularly in the South Lake Union neighborhood, the size and scale of new construction left me almost speechless. It felt like construction was happening on nearly every street corner—like an entirely new city was rising up out of the ground all around me.

After a lengthy job search, I was thrilled to land an internship with the Construction and Development team of Greystar Seattle. Since the beginning of June, I have been working out of their new office, and I have been loving it! As a large, international company, Greystar has made a name for themselves as one of the leaders in apartment management, while also investing in and developing multifamily properties. The company only recently began expanding their development and construction arm in Seattle, and it has been an exciting thing to be a part of. As an intern, I feel like I’m contributing in a small way to the changing face of this dynamic city.

Elan Uptown Flats

The first project I have been working on this summer is called Elan Uptown Flats. Located in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood, and just steps away from the Space Needle, this project will provide much-needed housing in this vibrant part of the city. The project is currently under construction, and will deliver over 180 units and a host of desirable amenities. Chief among these is a rooftop deck that will offer unparalleled views of the Space Needle and downtown to the east, and sweeping views of the Puget Sound to the west. The project is scheduled to deliver later this year.

425 Fairview under construction. The high-rise has grown by 5 floors since I arrived in June.

The second project that I am contributing to during my internship is 425 Fairview, a larger and more logistically complex development than Uptown Flats. Essentially two projects in one, 425 Fairview consists of a 24-story high-rise apartment tower on the north end of the property connected at grade level to a mid-rise tower on the south end. To complicate matters, there are two general contractors on site, each working on one of the buildings. The added complexity of having two GCs on the same site has not been lost on me, and observing the coordination and interaction of these two parties has been one of the most educational aspects of my time at Greystar.

In my role as intern, I have been supporting the small but powerful Construction and Development team for the Pacific Northwest. With two large projects under construction and several more in the pipeline, there is no shortage of work, and I have been able to jump right in and contribute almost from day one. It has been a fantastic learning experience for me, particularly because I requested to be more heavily exposed to the construction aspects of the work, something that I had previously recognized as a gap in my resume as an aspiring developer. Thanks to Cornell professors like Paul Carr and Crocker Liu, I had a good base knowledge of the construction process. But nothing compares to regularly walking a job and seeing a building come together piece by piece. I know this knowledge will be invaluable to me in my future development career.

425 Fairview

It has been a fantastic 6 weeks with the Greystar team and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer brings! Knowing how fast this city is changing I doubt that anything could surprise me.

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