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Good things come in small packages, but sometimes those things become so good that they outgrow those packages. This is the case for Seattle’s beloved KEXP 90.3 FM. The radio station is currently planning its move from a small, overcrowded brick building on Dexter and Denny to swanky new digs in Seattle Center. KEXP’s New Home is set to be filled late this year, with the old building up for demolition. The modern new space will allow KEXP to build stronger connections with the community, better accommodate artists, and be closer to partners SIFF, the VERA Project, and EMP Museum.

The listener-powered, non-profit station has been campaigning for funds since the move became final, and still has a long way to go to reach the $15 million needed for the project. Funds have been raised through benefit concerts, on-air drives, and private donations. KEXP was largely depending on funding from the Washington State Senate… until recently.

Late last week, KEXP’s new home was removed from the Senate’s Capital Budget for Building for the Arts (BFA) support. According to King 5 News, the state funding would have been the majority of the $15 million total cost needed for the project. This significant dent in KEXP’s new home funding sent the radio station into a panic, immediately advocating for community support in opposition to this measure. KEXP called for action, asking listeners to write their senators to express the need for these funds.

From the KEXP update regarding BFA funding: “You took action right away sending emails and making phone calls, tweeting and texting and encouraging your neighbors to do the same. It was overwhelmingly heartwarming and deeply appreciated.”

The New Home had been second in line for $1.8 million from the state. After the Senate meeting on Thursday, April 9th, it was decided that KEXP would not receive this amount in its entirety. “Unfortunately, full funding for KEXP’s New Home in the Capital Budget was not restored. However, an amendment to fund $1 million (53% of the original amount) for KEXP’s New Home did pass.”

KEXP will continue to report updates as the budget moves through the State Legislature. To support the New Home, click here to donate.

Featured photo via newhome.kexp.org  

Amazon’s prominent presence in South Lake Union is about to expand to the two Troy Block buildings currently under construction. This week it was confirmed that Amazon intends to lease 817,000 square feet in the two huge buildings, gaining on their previously mentioned goal of having “10 million square feet of office space in the Seattle area by 2019,” according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. That is enough space to house 71,900 employees.

Additionally Facebook will be moving into the 340,000 square foot Dexter Station, creating room for an additional 2,000 employees over the already 500 employees residing in Seattle. This expansion indicates Facebook is ready to commit to Seattle and come a location where it can significantly develop its workforce. So do other Silicon Valley natives like Google, Apple and Twitter. Fortunately, Facebook Seattle office lead, Paul Carduner told the Puget Sound Business Journal that Facebook does not plan to “hire 1,500 people in one fell swoop, but will steadily increase the Seattle headcount over time.” Well, for the sake of the South Lake Union transit system, that comes as a relief.

Between the two companies, they have leased nearly 1.1 million square feet in the Seattle area. The annual rate per square feet is between $32 and $38 a foot, and that doesn’t include property taxes, insurance and maintenance, which can reach an additional $14. That’s nearing $50 a foot, which over the course of a typical 10 year office lease, equals a whopping $550 million in rent.

With these large companies placing their roots in Seattle, it puts it on the map as a trending city and consequently beckons the attention of other notable companies. Google, Alibaba, and Tableau are on the hunt for more space in the Emerald City and willing to pay a pretty penny for it. Colliers reported to the PSBJ, “Rents for Class A space increased from nearly $33.80 a square foot at the start of last year to almost $36.70 a foot at the end of 2014.”  As the vacancy rates continue to drop, pretty soon the only option will be to build more office spaces.

 

 

 

The South Lake Union neighborhood just got a boost of creativity. The School of Visual Concepts (SVC) has moved to 2300 7th Avenue, just beside the intersection of Dexter Avenue and Denny Way. Classes began in the new location on December 1st, 2014.

SVC offers professional development training for the marketing communications industry. Students who attend workshops and classes build skills in design, technology and marketing to help them enter or further their career paths.

SVC was previously located at 500 Aurora Avenue since the day it was founded in 1971. The space on Aurora was falling into serious disrepair and marked for future redevelopment, sparking the need for the school to relocate.

“We started in this area 44 years ago, and as it’s become more of a hub for creative and technology firms, it’s turned into an even better fit for our business,” said SVC Co-Director Larry Asher. “Needless to say, we’ve had a ringside seat to all the many, many changes that have going on in South Lake Union over the years.”

The space on 7th Avenue was originally home to Seattle’s Jaguar dealer. The most recent tenant was the Arai-Jackson architecture firm.

“We like the idea that this space has had a creative design business in it before,” Asher said.

SVC staff members are enjoying the cleaner, better maintained space of the new location. It’s currently outside of the Mercer Street reconstruction zone, quieter, has better street visibility, and provides technological advantages (such as gigabit internet access) that the previous building couldn’t offer.

Out of all the advantages of the new building, Asher is most excited to have all the classrooms under one roof.

“At the old space, you had to go outside and down a breezeway to access your classroom. Here, all the students can mingle and network in our common space before going off to their class. Another big plus is having floor to ceiling windows with great sidewalk visibility for our incredible letterpress shop with its vintage presses and typesetting equipment,” he said.

Click here for more information about the School Visual Concepts and to see upcoming class schedules.

Featured photo via svcseattle.com

South Lake UnionDrive anywhere in South Lake Union these days and you are likely to run into at least one roadblock. Road work on Mercer Street and on 9th Avenue combined with countless construction projects in progress in the area has led to street and sidewalk closures, reduced parking availability, and near-constant traffic gridlock.

Throughout 2014, the Seattle Department of Transportation has been making efforts to alleviate some of these problems through its Construction Hub Coordination Program and Access Seattle Initiative. As a result of feedback from neighbors and business owners at a recent South Lake Union Community Council meeting, drivers and pedestrians should see some changes happening in the near future. Here’s a summary of the issues that are being addressed:

  • Amazon is using off-duty Seattle Police officers to restrict access to Harrison Street to aid in emptying their parking garages, which has increased traffic on neighboring Republican Street. SDOT says they will no longer allow this.
  • Heavy traffic on Mercer Street is deterring people from visiting surrounding businesses. SDOT says that an additional eastbound lane on Mercer will be opening in less than a week, and new signal timing should further reduce backups.
  • Construction workers who commute to the area are taking up a large chunk of street parking in the area. SDOT and the Department of Planning and Development will increase requirements for construction companies to provide off-street parking for workers.
  • Heavy traffic, including from construction vehicles and equipment, does not make the area pedestrian friendly. SDOT will install all-way walk signals at the intersections of 9th & Republican, 9th & Harrison, 9th & Thomas, John & Minor, Yale & Minor, and Yale & Thomas.

Also, click here to see a map of SLU construction projects.

In the last decade, South Lake Union has seen incredible and unparalleled growth and resurgence as a result of the tech industry. Another giant is on the horizon to give Amazon some company in the neighborhood. The new neighbor will be seen in the form of the Bio-Tech industry. BioMed Realty Trust and Alexandria Real Estate Equities have agreements in place to purchase and develop significant parcels in SLU as well as a proposal before the design review board for an 11-story office building.

Both companies are developing projects for life science development activity to join the already existing University of Washington’s research campus and Seattle BioMed. The Allen Institute for Brain Science’s new headquarters are also in the neighborhood, giving bio-med a solid representation among Tech giants.

Agreements have already been struck to purchase the block between Roy and Valley streets and Dexter and 8th Avenues North. The 11-story office building is proposed to be built on Dexter between Republican & Harrison streets.  The project will allow for 349 much needed parking stalls, 254K square feel of office space and 15K square feet of commercial spaces. According to Alexandria Real Estates’ company focus, the vast majority of this space will likely be devoted to the life science industry.

What does this biomed growth mean for us in SLU aside from the fact that we can now enjoy our coffee, tech, and bio-med all in the same neighborhood?  Clearly this will add dimension and a wider range of business base which means new opportunities for those of us already in the neighborhood. A natural consequence will see a rise in rental and lease rates, so lock in now before we rates climb.

Featured photo credit Flickr user Randy Wick, labeled for reuse under Creative Commons.

It’s always fun to welcome newbies to the neighborhood, and the newest one is Bang & Olufsen, a high-end shop where you can find speakers, TVs, and other audio equipment and electronics. It’s their first Seattle location, and an excellent choice for the neighborhood because of our techy culture.

That’s what brought them here, said President Zean Nielsen in a press release: “We were drawn to South Lake Union as it is an extremely tech savvy market that demands the best user experience, which is what we offer … We look forward to opening our doors to this dynamic community and making a very significant return to Seattle residents and tourists.”

The store’s South Lake Union manager is also excited about the new location. “The new showroom will be an ideal venue to showcase the latest B&O product offerings that feature cutting edge technology, superior user experiences and innovative design,” said Manager Ben Ryan Schwartz.

Bang & Olufsen actually had a store in the Seattle area for a while, but it closed 10 years ago and this opening marks its return. The company was founded in 1925 to bring “state-of-the-art audio and video products for music lovers, tech gurus and style seekers alike,” the press release stated.

With its South Lake Union location next door to West Elm at 2200 Westlake Avenue N, right across the street from Whole Foods, and just downstairs from one of Amazon.com’s offices, it’s prime real estate for a high-end tech-focused shop!

And their product offering is not your average Sony or Samsung. “It’s beautiful. Imaginative. Unexpected. At B&O, design is just as important a part of the package as audial or visual performance. Like speakers on wooden tripods with colorful tips, futuristic as a SETI satellite dish,” Discover SLU reported.

Gadgets, gizmos, toys and tech are all to be found at the new South Lake Union store, and all of them with a unique, futuristic, design-focused look.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Bang & Olufsen!

Featured photo credit PR News Foto/Bang & Olufsen.

It was a point of contention for months, and it’s been in the making for nearly a decade, but the Seattle City Council ended up unanimously passing the bill to allow the South Lake Union rezone, according to a report from the Puget Sound Business Journal on Monday.

As recently as the beginning of April, it seemed like the rezone might not pass, as we reported on April 2nd. The bill that was passed earlier this week allows “raising the limits on building heights from 65 feet for office buildings and 85 feet for apartments, to 160 feet and 240 feet, respectively,” as we mentioned in a post back in March about Vulcan’s desire to build a 12-story office tower in the South Lake Union neighborhood.

And now the rezone has been allowed, which has instant affect on several construction projects in the area – as referenced in a report from Seattle Curbed.

Vulcan’s 12-story office building is now a go, and will include 312,643 square feet of office space on top of ground-floor retail space and a parking garage. In addition, Vulcan Real Estate has a hoped-for plan for three 240-foot towers on Mercer – their plan was shelved back in February, but has not yet died.

In the middle of the Amazon campus, Stanford Hotels has proposed a brand new hotel building with 283 rooms – perfect for Amazon clients, partners, and out-of-town employees to stay while they’re visiting headquarters.

A 300,000 square foot, 12-story building has been planned for the 400 Fairview Avenue address in South Lake Union. Equity Office Properties hopes to build two 160-foot towers at Dexter Ave. N and Highland Drive, but they were limited to 125-foot towers before the rezone was passed. Touchstone’s Troy Laundry has plans for a 12-foot and 13-foot tower project at Fairview Avenue and Harrison St., and Wolff is about to unveil plans for a 17-story apartment building at 8th Ave. N and Republican Street.

Finally, the Dexter station that is already under construction will be 10 stories and contain 340,000 square feet of space. Its height won’t change because of the rezone, however it might experience a blocked view if other construction projects are allowed to go higher.

“By 2031, South Lake Union will have to absorb some 12,000 households and 22,000 jobs to continue to meet its share of future growth,” said Councilman Richard Conlin in a press release. “This rezone will take the pressure off other neighborhoods and will shape South Lake Union for the next hundred years.”

What do you think about the passing of the rezone bill? Will it be a beneficial or detrimental thing for the South Lake Union neighborhood?

Featured photo from Seattle.Curbed.com

Spring has sprung in Seattle, and South Lake Union is gearing up for a great season of events and activities. Check out the following Lake Union events, and mark your calendars for some fun tastings, workshops, and activities in our neighborhood!

  1. Photo credit: soulwineseattle.com
    Photo credit: soulwineseattle.com

    April Wednesdays & Thursdays – Complimentary Wine Tasting at Soul Wine: Taste three Washington wines (varies weekly) at Soul Wine every Wednesday and Thursday in April from noon to 7 p.m.

  2. April 4 – Free First Thursday at MOHAI: The Museum of History And Industry stays open late (until 8 p.m.) with free admission all day for the first Thursday of every month. It’s a great way to check out the activities, programs, and exhibits at the museum without being required to pay an entrance fee.
  3. April 4 – SLU Public Safety Conversation: Help your local SPD precinct officers by sharing your public safety concerns at this evening conversation. The South Lake Union Chamber and Community Councils will be hosting a public safety conversation at 5:30 p.m. on April 4th at the Discovery Center at 101 Westlake Ave N. To learn more about the event, click here.
  4. April 5 – Arte & Vino at Caffe Torino: Caffe Torino restaurant in South Lake Union is featuring Seattle based artist Yoona Lee. She’ll be at the restaurant on Aprilth from 5-8 p.m. with free entry and wine and beer at a discount for this monthly happening in Lake Union events.
  5. April 6 – DIY History Workshop at MOHAI: Use oral history as a medium for documenting your family history, writing a memoir, and more. This is a two-part workshop offered by MOHAI to show how oral history is used, learn basic interview techniques, understand the uses for oral history, and so on. The workshop is $40/person for the public, $30 for members, seniors, students, and educators. Learn more about the workshop, register, and contact MOHAI here.
  6. April Sundays – Sunday Ice Cream Cruise with Seattle Ferry Service: Take a tour of Lake Union while enjoying ice cream desserts, hot chocolate, tomato soup and/or soft drinks ($2-4 each, cash or check only)! Every Sunday through April 28th, you can take a 45-50 minute tour of Lake Union, from its floating homes to Gas Works Park, to Dale Chihuly’s studio, and historical narrative all the way. Tickets are $11 for adults, $10 for seniors, $7 for kids 5-13, and $2 for kids under 5. Pets welcome. Tours happen each hour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  7. Photo credti: MOHAI.org
    Photo credit: MOHAI.org

    April 9 – Mini MOHAI: Activities for younger kids at MOHAI on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Children aged 3-5 and their parents can enjoy interactive experiences, play spaces, activity stations, and more with rotating themes each month to keep it interesting. MiniMOHAI runs from 9 a.m. to noon. Adult (non-member) admission is $14; kids under 14 get in free.

  8. April 12 – Northwest Seaport Chantey Sing: Sing-a-long with the Sea Chanteys and celebrate Seattle’s connection to boats, sailors, and the sea. Local Tom Rawson, a folk singer from the Seattle area, will lead this sing-a-long from 8-10 p.m. at the Center for Wooden Boats in South Lake Union. It’s a free event and great for kids, too!
  9. April 12 – Swan Lake Opening Night at the Pacific Northwest Ballet: The Tchaikovsky classic, Swan Lake, will open at the PNB on Friday, April 12th. Performances run through Sunday, April 21st. Visit pnb.org for more information and ticket purchases.
  10. April 17 – South Lake Union Chamber April Lunch: Join the SLU Chamber for their April lunch meeting! It’s hosted by MOHAI and takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 17th. The lunch will be catered by City Catering, and costs $35 for non-members, $25 for members. Click here to read more.
  11. April 20 – KOMO 4 Family Day at MOHAI: The Museum of History and Industry in South Lake Union and KOMO 4 News partner together for their quarterly Family Day this April 20th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Celebrate Earth Day at MOHAI, where participants can learn about foods’ journeys from farm to table, build globes, and enjoy entertainment from magicians, musicians, and performers. Tickets are free to kids 14 and under, adults get two-for-one ($14) admission on Family Day! For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
  12. April 23 – Mini MOHAI: Activities for younger kids at MOHAI on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Children aged 3-5 and their parents can enjoy interactive experiences, play spaces, activity stations, and more with rotating themes each month to keep it interesting. MiniMOHAI runs from 9 a.m. to noon. Adult (non-member) admission is $14; kids under 14 get in free.

Featured photo from komonews.com.

As the debate on the re-zoning of the South Lake Union continues, the Seattle City Council has shelved a proposal put forth by Vulcan Real Estate for 24-story towers in the Block 59 area.

lake union rezoneBlock 59 refers to the block between Mercer and Valley Streets on the north and south, and Fairview Ave. N and Westlake Ave. N on the east and west. Paul Allen’s firm Vulcan Real Estate was intending to build three 24-story towers in this location, in return for paying a prescribed sum of money toward affordable housing and social services.

However, the Vulcan proposal was taken off the table because it is not a priority for the council, and it adds to the controversy surrounding Mayor Mike McGinn’s re-zoning proposal. This is the latest development in the Lake Union re-zoning litigation.

According to the Seattle Times article reporting the proposal’s denial, “No formal council vote is required to sideline Block 59 because it isn’t part of the mayor’s zoning legislation. Instead, the mayor made it a separate, less formal proposal that could be adopted through a development agreement — similar to what McGinn proposed with a new basketball arena in Sodo.”

In his letter Tuesday to the Council, McGinn explained his lack of support for the Block 59 plan, in light of the re-zoning controversy: “I recognize that Block 59 has added additional complexity to the proposal when the primary goal should be to set the best overall public policy for the rezoning.”

There is a possibility that Vulcan Real Estate could build their three 24-story towers on Block 59, however not with the initial proposal to do so in exchange for financial contributions for public benefits such as affordable housing (existing city policy).

Instead, McGinn has recommended that Vulcan transfer 37,600 square feet of land between Broad and Republican to the city. This is key to some supporters since it would allow nonprofit developers to add to land they already own in order to create almost a full block of social services – land they cannot currently afford to purchase.

Featured photo from Puget Sound Business Journal

The popular local chain, Cactus, is now serving up its Southwestern and Mexican cuisine in Lake Union. Located in one of the Amazon headquarter buildings, Cactus is competing with Tom Douglas and his three nearby restaurants for the techie consumer. According to a TechFlash article, Cactus is (naturally) busy on the weekdays during lunch, as Amazon employees fill their bellies with Chimayo Enchiladas or Smoked Chicken Quesadillas.

As Amazon continues to grow and more businesses move into the neighborhood (hi Facebook), Cactus will continue to be busy during lunches and early dinners, as workers start heading home. With restaurant expansions like this, Lake Union is developing into quite the Seattle neighborhood hot spot. Now might be the time to start that great restaurant or business idea in the neighborhood, catered to the techies of course. Check out the perfect Lake Union restaurant space in Seattle here.

Featured photo from Seattle Eater.