Amazon’s Footprint Could Fill the Empire State Building Five Times Over

By Zosha Millman

As the world awaits Amazon’s HQ2 decision, many pundits and pontificaters have turned their eyes to Seattle in order to better understand the footprint Amazon might have on a city. But it isn’t as simple as just looking.

Seattle has changed a lot in the years since the web’s biggest bookseller opened up shop here. In many ways it’s shaped the city Seattle has become, but not in quantifiable ways: What would Seattle housing look like without Amazon bolstering the local economy? What would South Lake Union be?

And even though Amazon has wormed its way into plenty of building nooks and crannies throughout the city, the company has been tight-lipped about exactly how much real estate they’ve taken on. Over 40,000 employees work throughout the city, but it’s hard to know exactly where they’re all punching the clock.

Commercial real estate firms in towns have pretty good guesses. And now, BuildZoom has stepped in to try to assess how much space Amazon takes up in the city – and it’s pretty astounding.

Using the BuildZoom’s National Building Permit Repository, the firm reports more than $1.9 billion in Seattle metro area building permits have been filed for Amazon-occupied office space since the company moved to South Lake Union.

That spans nearly 13.6 million square feet across the Seattle metro area, and includes 45 structures in Queen Anne, South Lake Union, Downtown Seattle and Bellevue.Since Amazon’s big move to the South Lake Union area in 2007, over $1.9 billion in building permits have been filed for Amazon-occupied office space in the Seattle metro area, which spans nearly 13.6 million feet, according to BuildZoom. Photo: BuildZoom

Photo: BuildZoom

According to the report, about $1.8 billion of that was in building permits to date, with the remaining $120 million spent on tenant improvements for leased office spaces.

BuildZoom includes a breakdown of individual blocks and chunks of the campus: The initial South Lake Union cluster of 10 buildings (first developed by Vulcan Real Estate and sold for $1.16 billion in 2012) cost about $450 million in permits. Block 19 in the Denny Triangle neighborhood cost over $650 million in permits alone.

And that’s all before new parcel development hit the scene.

All in all, it’s enough to fill the Empire State Building five times over and the Columbia Center more than eight times.

So what does that mean for HQ2? 

In short, the campus is likely to have a greater impact in a smaller metro.

“A campus of this magnitude will not be easy for any city to accommodate except for the very largest,” BuildZoom’s Chief Economist, Dr. Issi Romem, said.

“Amazon will likely build new office buildings, as it did in Seattle, but will likely also snap up significant square footage in existing office space, especially in its earlier stages of growth. Amazon will likely reduce vacancy rates, crowd out other tenants, and drive up office rents, especially in the short run. In the longer run, Amazon will expand the office supply and, more generally, help deepen the talent pool.”

Ten years from now, it may be a whole new world, just like Seattle.

Lake Union Events: Things to Do in December

Celebrate the holiday season and get out to enjoy your neighborhood this December, with the following Lake Union events coming up…

December 1: The MORELove Project 11th Annual Coat Drive
10am – 2pm | Westlake Ave N & Thomas Street
Participate in the city’s largest one-day winter coat drive with The MORELove Project! On Friday, December 1st, bring your gently used or new coats to the parking lot at the intersection of Westlake Ave N and Thomas Street between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. All donations will go to Mary’s Place and Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.

December 1: Fringe, Feathers & Frost
7:30pm – 11pm | Virginia V Ship
Enjoy a 20s themed holiday party aboard the Virginia V with Seattle Women in Jazz on December 1st to kick off the season with fun with Fringe, Feathers & Frost! There will be dance lessons from 7:30 until 8 p.m., followed by dancing and performances from the Sister Kate Dance Company, live gypsy jazz from Mes Copines Gitanes, and DJ Amanda Wilde from KUOW. The theme is roaring 20s, so come dressed in your holiday best with a historic twist! General admission to the party is $30.

December 2: Yuletide Concert
7:30pm | Immanuel Lutheran Church
Enjoy a mix of holiday music and maritime songs at Immanuel Lutheran Church’s Yuletide Concert on December 2nd. Admission includes delicious refreshments and the chance to shop a gift bazaar during intermission, and costs $15, with reduced $12 pricing for seniors and ages 20-29 and members of Maritime Folknet, Northwest Seaport, or Immanuel Lutheran Church. Kids ages 7 – 19 will be admitted for $5 each.

December 7: First Free Thursday at MOHAI
10am – 8pm | Museum of History and Industry
On the first Thursday of the month, the Museum of History and Industry offers free general admission for the museum’s permanent exhibits – all day long! The free admission includes: True Northwest: the Seattle Journey, and the Bezos Center for Innovation.

December 8: SLU Winter Market
10am | Van Vorst Courtyard
Get more holiday gift shopping done at the South Lake Union Winter Market! On December 8th, visit the Van Vorst Courtyard to browse a few dozen vendors and goods for special gifts.

December 9: Seattle Makers Market
11am – 5pm | 400 Fairview Avenue
Visit the ground floor of the Market Hall at 400 Fairview on Saturday, December 9th for the monthly Seattle Makers Market series! This free event features handmade goods from crafters, artists, makers and artisans in the Seattle area.

December 14: Heavy Metal Beer Dinner
6pm – 9pm | Brave Horse Tavern
Enjoy a fun Heavy Metal-themed beer dinner featuring Holy Mountain brewery, with food and music to get the room rocking. There will be six courses to compliment some rare and unusual beers from Holy Mountain. Tickets are $85/person.

December 14: A Home for the Holidays
7pm | The Meeting Center
Support Mary’s Place with a nice holiday benefit on December 14th, featuring Vocally Self Critical and the Amazon Symphony Orchestra as musical guests. Tickets are $25/person.

December 28: Family Learn to Climb
5:30pm | REI
Have the whole family learn to climb in this fun event offered by REI. You’ll receive education on climbing harnesses and how to put them on and use them, with individual instruction on climbing and belaying on REI’s indoor wall. All climbing gear will be provided. Space is limited. The cost is $55, or $45 for REI members.

Dexter Brewhouse to Re-Open Friday After Another Do-Over

By Megan Hill

Dexter Brewhouse is closed until Friday, November 24 for a “relaunch,” the latest in a string of rebranding efforts.
 Dexter Brewhouse/FB

Beset with challenges from early on, the South Lake Union brewpub Dexter Brewhouse, formerly known as Mollusk, continues to reinvent itself: As of last night, the restaurant has closed temporarily for unspecified rejiggering. Anyone following along at home may recall that the brewery aspect of the business has retained the Mollusk moniker since its inception, but the restaurant portion — having already lost its adventurous chef and co-owner, Travis Kukull, in a previous shakeup — rebranded in July as Dexter Brewhouse, attempting to please crowds with more standard pub fare.

Dexter Brewhouse will reopen at 5 p.m. on Friday, November 24, and at the very least there will be a new chef at the helm, according to a Facebook post. A note on the doors of the restaurant also hints at the relaunch and the new chef with the lines “You love our beer, now love our new chef.” The restaurant hasn’t released any other details.

The embattled venture was originally born as Gastropod, a tiny yet adventurous kitchen in Sodo, alongside the off-beat nanobrewery Epic Ales. Brewer Cody Morris and chef Travis Kukull relocated to bigger digs in South Lake Union and rebranded as Mollusk in October 2015.

It’s been a tough road since for Mollusk, which has struggled to get customers in the door despite a largely positive critical reception for both the inventive initial food menu and the exciting beer program. Early in 2016, the restaurant dropped its lunch service and cut staff, saying the neighborhood wasn’t dense enough to support the midday meal program. A few months later, the business went to a standard tipping model, doing away with an automatic service charge. Then in summer 2016, Kukull departed the kitchen, and Morris oversaw an overhaul of the menu that took it from avant garde to comfort food. Dexter Brewhouse was born this past July. Meanwhile, Kukull has quietly resurfaced and is cooking at White Swan Public House.

The one obvious through-line in the sordid saga is the creative beer produced by Morris under the Mollusk label, which remains top-notch, but the restaurant is clearly struggling. Will this latest iteration finally be the one that sticks?

Syndicated from Seattle Eater.

Cascade Coffee Works Wants to Connect All of SLU

By Chelsea Lin

Cascade Coffee Works is now making sweet latte art in South Lake Union.

The new softly open location of Seattle Coffee Works—the “by the people, for the people” neighborhood coffee shop—is not a sellout. Yes, it’s at Amazon’s doorstep, and you’ll likely line up for a morning cup with many a blue-badged employee from the high-rise offices upstairs.

But owner Sebastian Simsch is quick to point out that Cascade Coffee Works (as this location is known)—housed in the new building that incorporates the 1927 corner brick facade of Troy Laundry, just blocks from a P-Patch and community center—is part of the historic Cascade neighborhood, which has been doing its own thing long before South Lake Union all but swallowed it up.

Now, with ongoing construction, it’s simply a neighborhood in transition. And that transition provides a blank slate for Simsch and his team, who have built three successful coffee shops around the city, each with a distinct character that caters to the surrounding ’hood’s needs. Ballard Coffee Works has a kids’ play space and lots of food options. Capitol Coffee Works has an experimental flare—particularly in the treatment of coffee as fruit—and is open later. What will the Cascade shop look like? Simsch said he wasn’t not sure yet when we spoke earlier this year.

A bigger kitchen provides some creative liberty when it comes to food (right now, they’re planning to sell Standard Bakery pastries, Sunshine breakfast tacos and house-made sandwiches for lunch); more fridge space allows for lots of cold brew coffee and happy-hour beers; immediate access to the “coffee geek” young professionals means brewing classes and weekly tastings. Shots will be poured from a custom Seattle-made Synesso MVP espresso maker.

But that’s just the beginning. Simsch says he’s open to creating whatever the neighborhood wants. As he’s worked to bridge the gap between the coffee pickers who “live on $1 a day” and the $4 latte drinkers here in Seattle, he’s hoping this new location, which has its grand opening November 8, will act as an equalizer—where the neighborhood’s homeless population, tech employees and residential families can meet eye to eye over a cup of directly sourced, environmentally responsible coffee.

Will his plan work? “We’ll see,” Simsch says.

Cascade Coffee Works
1130 Thomas St.; 206.340.8867

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Pilot Water Taxi Project Connects Lakes Union & Washington

By Nat Levy

Real estate company Seco Development plans to to fund a water taxi pilot project to ferry passengers across Lake Washington, between Seattle’s tech-heavy South Lake Union neighborhood and the developer’s massive office project in the city of Renton, Wash., GeekWire has learned.

Seco is taking the lead in planning as well as funding the pilot project, which aims to put passenger ferries on Lake Washington by 2020. For the better part of the year, Seco has been talking with King County, the cities of Seattle, Bellevue, Renton, Kenmore and others, as well as local business interests about the service. Though the initial focus is on a route between Renton and Amazon’s backyard of South Lake Union, Seco envisions routes to other parts of Seattle as well as cities like Bellevue.

“In our rapidly growing region it is essential that we have a variety of transportation options,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine in a statement. “That is why I am encouraged when businesses like Seco get involved by creating innovative solutions like a water taxi.”

Seco is building a triumvirate of office towers designed for tech companies totaling approximately 730,000 square feet in Renton, right next door to Boeing’s factory, as part of its Southport project, which also includes a completed apartment project and hotel. A water taxi that drops off at the front door of Southport is sure to be a draw to tech giants that might otherwise balk at the location several miles, and plenty of traffic jams, from the traditional tech hotspots in Seattle and Bellevue.

Rocale Timmons, Seco’s director of planning and development and a former senior planner with the city of Renton, told GeekWire that the service will surely boost Southport, but the company looks at the project as a regional attraction that provides a new transportation alternative as well.

“Certainly establishing passenger service on Lake Washington would benefit the employer that makes Southport home and obviously benefits the city of Renton, however, there are 1 million plus people who either live or work in a three mile radius of the lake,” Timmons said.

Seco Development’s Southport campus on the banks of Lake Washington with the Seattle Skyline in the background. (Seco Development Rendering)

The 2020 start date could be just a few months after the final phase of the office project is done.

The water taxi project is still in early phases, so details like timing, capacity, funding, frequency, pricing and stops have yet to be decided, Timmons said. The company is considering 149-passenger catamarans similar to Kitsap Transit’s new fast ferry.

Seco is planning to arm the boats with amenities sure to please commuters, such as high speed internet, bike storage, standing desks and the ability to order coffee and snacks via smartphone. Seco doesn’t want to focus purely on commuters, and the service will likely have an entertainment and tourism element as well.

Seco’s project is reminiscent of the “Mosquito Fleet,” an armada of steam ships that ferried people and resources around the region for decades back in the late 1800s to the mid 1900s. Government authorities have explored bringing back a “foot ferry” system several times in recent years, but it had never come to pass.

Seco has grander ambitions in Renton than just its Southport project. It is in talks with the city and several nearby property owners to assemble land for several million more square feet of office space. The Southport site, along with adjacent land in Renton, was actually a part of the regional proposal to keep Amazon’s second North American headquarters.

“There’s approximately 700 acres in Renton that we believe is underdeveloped, and we’ve been working with the city to identify those sites that could accommodate these larges swatches of office spaces, especially given all the other infrastructure improvements coming into the area,” Timmons said.

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