Amazon Still Growing, to Lease 2nd Tallest Building in PNW

By Mike Rosenberg

Less than a month after opening up a hunt for a second headquarters, Amazon has agreed to expand in Seattle in a big way.

The company confirmed Tuesday it has signed a lease for the entire office portion of a planned downtown skyscraper called Rainier Square that will become the second-tallest building in the Pacific Northwest.

 

Even by Amazon’s standards, the expansion is substantial: Rainier Square will be among the company’s biggest office buildings when it opens in three years, with room for more than 3,500 additional employees. It’s one of the biggest leases in Seattle history.

Amazon will occupy about 722,000 square feet in the development, which is in the early stages of construction. No other company in the city has a space that large in a single building.

Amazon has been scooping up offices on a regular basis for years. It already takes up nearly 20 percent of all prime office space in Seattle, the most of any company in any major U.S. city.

But the latest lease comes amid question marks over the company’s plans for its hometown city.

Amazon said last month it would build a second headquarters somewhere in North America, which fueled speculation that the company might be slowing down or halting its growth here.

The company’s job postings in Seattle have been dropping, from about 9,000 in June to under 6,000 now. Amazon billed the second headquarters as being a “full equal” to its Seattle hub and has been signing leases to open up more large satellite offices in places like Manhattan, Silicon Valley and San Diego.

Previously, the e-commerce giant had planned to grow from its current footprint of 8.1 million square feet in Seattle to 12 million in the next five years — enough to surge from about 40,000 employees now to 60,000 later. But it hasn’t publicly talked about its local expansion plans since the HQ2 announcement.

“I’ve walked away from this with a belief that they are still growing in Seattle now, clearly, and I think they are going to continue to grow,” said Greg Johnson, president of Wright Runstad & Company, which is developing the Rainier Square project.

Even though Amazon is expanding elsewhere, “I don’t think that correlates exactly to a pullback or anything in Seattle,” he said.

Amazon declined to comment Tuesday beyond confirmation of the lease.

Brokerage Kidder Mathews reported Tuesday that Amazon is also “rumored to be looking at 300,000 square feet in another planned project” locally.

“I think this signifies Amazon’s long-term commitment to their hometown,” said Jake Bos, a Kidder Mathews vice president. He thinks Rainier Square could be the second-biggest lease in the city’s history, behind another Amazon lease.

Johnson said Rainier Square attracted “a lot of interest” by Seattle area-based companies, as well as outside firms that already have a satellite presence here. At least one other unnamed company wanted to take the entire office portion, he said.

The lease marks Amazon’s first move into the downtown core, after taking up about three dozen buildings in South Lake Union and the Denny Triangle. Rainier Square — at Fourth Avenue and Union Street — is about a half-mile south of any of Amazon’s existing offices.

Office brokers have noted that while smaller businesses have been priced out of South Lake Union because of the growing tech scene there, central downtown had been somewhat isolated from the Amazon effect. That could change with Amazon now expanding into the downtown core.

When Wright Runstad began planning Rainier Square three years ago, “the folks at Amazon really didn’t want to hear anything about it,” Johnson said. But then the company kept growing, and inching slightly farther south.

“They’re already so large and they’re still growing at a great pace,” Johnson said.

Rainier Square will stand out with its bootlike frame, featuring a wide base tapering to skinnier floors higher up. It will sit next to the existing Rainier Tower, known for its narrow, curved pedestal.

The $570 million project, approved in 2015, is being built on University of Washington property.

Demolition on the site has begun as crews knock down the existing Rainier Square shopping mall. Construction will continue through 2018 and 2019, and the office space is expected to open in summer 2020.

The 58-story tower, which will also include 200 luxury apartments, retail and an adjacent luxury hotel, will be the region’s second-tallest building when it opens, after 76-story Columbia Center.

Downtown Seattle is undergoing a record construction boom, with 74 major projects active as of July. Rainier Square is the biggest of those developments.

It’s the second time in the last several months that a developer has leased out a new Seattle skyscraper before it even opened, showing how strong demand has become for job space in the fast-growing city. In May, tech company F5 agreed to take all 516,000 square feet of office space in a new building at Fifth and Columbia that will be called F5 Tower.

Syndicated from The Seattle Times

Two Firms Propose Plans for Necessary Office Space in SLU

By Sydney Parker

Only 3.7% of office space and 1.3% of lab space is available for lease in South Lake Union, leaving much to be desired for any company hoping to settle in the hot neighborhood, JLL reports. To fill this void, Unico and BioMed Realty each put forth proposals for two big office properties in the South Lake Union market.

Seattle-based Unico Properties is planning a six- to eight-story building at 330 Yale Ave. N, according to public records, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports. The site is on the campus of Pemco’s former headquarters, which Unico bought for $51.75M at the end of 2014. Pemco relocated to its new headquarters on the west side of Lake Union in 2015.

The Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce first reported on Unico’s plans for the new building. The report named Perkins+Will as designer.

San Diego-based BioMed Realty hopes to construct a two-tower, 14-story building on the full block at 700 Dexter Ave. N. The project will have nearly 350K SF of office, 26,250 SF of ground-floor retail and restaurant space, and 520 underground parking stalls once completed.

Syndicated from Bisnow.com

Luxury Apartment Building Awarded LEED Silver

By Anca Gaguic

Modera South Lake Union, a 294-unit community located at 435 Dexter Ave. North near Seattle’s downtown, was awarded LEED Silver by the USGBC. The seven-story luxury apartment community is the first Mill Creek Residential property in Seattle to achieve the distinction.

The property was awarded the certification due to a series of green features such as:

  • the use of locally sourced materials
  • reduced construction waste
  • recycled content in materials
  • high-efficiency lighting and plumbing fixtures
  • enhanced waste management system
  • a healthy indoor environment, deemed healthy due to the use of low volatile Organic compounds (VOC) paints, coatings, sealants and adhesives, as well as a continuous, silent ventilation system and safe, formaldehyde-free wall insulation.

To achieve the LEED Silver status the community’s location was factored in too, as it has convenient access to public transit options, several community resources, eateries, job centers and nearby attractions that help limit commute times, thus cutting down on the community’s carbon footprint. In addition, from the early stages of construction, the community has been verified by an independent third-party affiliated with the USGBC.

ABOUT THE COMMUNITY

The unit mix at Modera South Lake Union includes one- to three-bedroom floor plans ranging in size from 444 to 1,144 square feet. Common area amenities include controlled-access garage parking, self-serve package lockers, a pet spa, 24-hour fitness center, clubhouse, game room, rooftop deck, theater and coffee bar. Unit interiors feature air conditioning; wood plank-style flooring; nine-foot ceilings; stainless Energy Star appliances including gas ranges; quartz countertops; USB ports; large closets and full-size washers and dryers.

The community offers easy access to Highway 99 and Interstate 5, and is adjacent to public transit options including the South Lake Union Streetcar, several bus lines and connections to the light rail. Major employers in the area include Amazon, Microsoft, University of Washington Medicine, Gates Foundation and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Images courtesy of Mill Creek Residential. Syndicated from CPexecutive.com.

Lot Near Denny Park to be Developed as Condominiums

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle downtown condos.

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, the Developer of the lot in South Lake Union where Shilla Restaurant sits at 2300 8th Ave, will be developed as condominiums, at least that is the plan for now. The small triangular lot across from Denny Park is being developed by Bellevue-based North American Seattle Development LLC, which is affiliated with a company out of China.

The building will be 39 stories with 286 residential units. The plan today is to build condos but the developer is keeping their options open to see how the market is looking closer to the time when they will begin construction on the project, which is currently unknown and dependent on when the city approves their master use permit. The estimation is that the earliest they could start construction would be summer of 2018.

Rendering source: Caron architecture firm

Syndicated from SeattlePI.com

Row House Cafe to Close, Making Way for More SLU Development

By Daniel Person

In September, we profiled Row House Cafe as part of a series on “hold outs” in South Lake Union, the once-blue-collar hood that is now ground zero for the Amazon takeover.

“Sitting in the heart of South Lake Union at 1170 Republican Street, the scruffy restaurant sits in deep contrast to the glittering newness around it, its oldness a form of defiance. And therein lies its beauty, say its fans,” we wrote then.

Well, not for long.

The Seattle Times is reporting that the three old homes that were fused together to create the bar and restaurant have a date with a wrecking ball “some time in 2018.” There was a push to get the 1911 homes designated historic landmarks, but to no avail.

Photo credit: Jose Trujillo

“By one vote, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Board did not muster enough votes to designate the site a landmark. A majority of the 11-member board was needed to approve the designation, and the vote was 5 to 4,” the Times reports today.

In place of the small homes will be a 91-unit apartment complex with a gym and an “indoor pet relief area,” the Times writes. This lends credence to the contention that a lot of Seattle development is dog shit.

When we wrote our story, Row House’s general manager Erin Maher was philosophical about the changing neighborhood around here, saying that the growth was a blessing and a curse.

“We opened because we knew this area was undergoing dynamic growth; we just had no idea that it would happen literally on every block in this neighborhood,” she said. “I don’t think anyone anticipated there would be so much construction all at once.”

However, she added, “You’re not going to stop growth. Physics just won’t allow it.”

No, it seems, it won’t.

Syndicated from the Seattle Weekly