Two businesses operating under almost identical names are trying to buy property in South Lake Union. One, Paul Allen's Vulcan Real Estate, is well known. The other, Kip Wassink's Vulcan Endeavors, is not. But the similarity of the companies' names is confusing residents who have received offers from Vulcan Endeavors to buy their property.

A letter printed on Vulcan Endeavors stationery arrived last month in South Lake Union resident Red Reddick's mailbox. By using public records, the letter said, the company had ascertained she owned land in the neighborhood. "If you would like to sell your property... we may be just what you are looking for," the letter said.

Reddick was concerned that Vulcan Real Estate, which owns more than 60 acres in South Lake Union, was trying to buy more of the neighborhood. Several years ago, Reddick and her neighbors tried unsuccessfully to protect the Lillian Apartments, a low-income apartment building that Vulcan bought and then demolished.

When Reddick spoke to the agent named in the letter, she asked if his company represented Vulcan Real Estate. He replied, "No," but said that the company is "working with Vulcan," she says.

Vulcan Real Estate denies any association. "We have never heard of the company Vulcan Endeavors," says Vulcan Real Estate spokesman Aaron Blank, who works for the PR firm the Feary Group. Blank requested a copy of the letter and forwarded it to Vulcan, which has not taken any action against its doppelgänger.

"I didn't know of Paul Allen's company when I started my company," insists Wassink, whose company has been buying land on the outskirts of the city for three years. He says he chose the name "Vulcan" from mythology, and calls it a "coincidence" that his real-estate firm's name is virtually identical to that of Seattle's highest-profile developer. To date, Wassink has not been successful in buying any South Lake Union land. He sends about 500 letters a month to owners of property close to downtown. recommended