How Amazon’s Jobs Boom Has Affected Rent in Seattle

By Svenja Gudell

Seattle has one of the strongest housing markets in the country, with home value and rent growth consistently topping nationwide rankings in recent years. A strong local labor market has been an important driver of this growth, with the area being home to some of the country’s most dynamic companies, including Amazon and Microsoft (and, ahem, Zillow). Companies based elsewhere, such as Facebook and Google, have been increasingly drawn to establish satellite offices in the region.


South Lake Union

The neighborhood of South Lake Union – home to Amazon’s headquarters – has been the epicenter of this jobs boom. Over the past decade, the area has transformed from a low-rise, post-industrial district to a cluster of high rises and amenities catering to service sector workers (e.g., coffee shops, kale salads, and yoga studios).

South Lake Union and adjacent areas are home to the highest concentrations of people who work in South Lake Union, and they have seen the largest growth in numbers of residents who work in South Lake Union – an area where the employment landscape is dominated by Amazon.

As of 2015, three out of every 200 employed adults who live in South Lake Union also work in South Lake Union, the highest density of such employees across the Seattle metro. In parts of Belltown, Capitol Hill, Lower Queen Anne, Interbay, Fremont and Ballard, one to two out of every 200 employed adults works in South Lake Union.

Seattle metro census tracts with larger increases in the number of South Lake Union workers between 2011 and 2015 saw larger rent increases (on a per square foot basis) over the same period.

For the average census tract in the Seattle metro, the South Lake Union jobs boom has been associated with faster annual rent increases between 2011 and 2015 of around $0.01 per square foot (or about $5 per month on a typical 650 square foot 1-bedroom apartment). Rents per square foot increased by about $0.05 per year on average over the same period metro-wide. So for the average Seattle metro census tract, the South Lake Union jobs boom only explains a small portion of rising rents in recent years.

The relationship is stronger looking only at census tracts within the city of Seattle. For the average census tract inside the city of Seattle, the South Lake Union jobs boom has been associated with faster annual rent increases between 2011 and 2015 of around $0.07 per square foot (or about $44 per month on a typical 650 square foot 1-bedroom apartment). Rents per square foot increased by about $0.11 per year on average over the same period city wide.

Read more — and check out the charts — at Zillow Research.

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Lake Union Events: Things to Do in November

Check out these fun November events involving food, drink and community engagement…

November 2: First Free Thursday at MOHAI – Day of the Dead
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. This First Free Thursday on November 2nd will center around the theme of a Day of the Dead celebration.

November 2: Movembeer with Dru Bru
6pm – 9pm | Serious Pie Westlake
Support men’s health and enjoy the latest Rauchbier from Dru Bru at a MovemBEER event at Serious Pie Westlake! On Thursday, November 2nd, join in a meet-and-greet with the Dru Bru team, enjoy tasting flights and sample Serious Pie’s new smoke-inspired pizza by Chef Tony. In the Movember spirit, craft your own mustache for a chance to win $50 gift cards – prizes will be given for the best real or fake facial hair. All month long, a portion of proceeds from Rauchbier purchases will be donated to the Movember Foundation.

November 9: St. Martin’s Winemaker Dinner
6:30pm | Serafina
Serafina is hosting their annual St. Martin’s Winemaker Dinner to celebrate the patron saint of winemakers. The restaurant’s chefs are working with David Abbona, the winemaker at Marchesi di Barolo, to prepare a delicious five-course menu that will compliment the exquisite wines his family produces in Italy (click here for a sample menu). The winemaker dinner will be on November 9th, starting at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $155/person, not including tax or gratuity. Reservations are required: Call 206-323-0807 or email

November 10 – 12: Cowabunga USA
5pm – 7pm | South Lake Union
America’s largest festival of beef comes to South Lake Union this November for Cowabunga! Farmers and ranchers from all over the Pacific Northwest will participate in this festival for beef lovers, where you can enjoy all-you-can-eat food, watch culinary competitions and experience three days of performances and tastings from all-star chefs. Ticket prices vary based on the beefy experience you’d like to try, so visit the Cowabunga event website to buy your entrance to preferred events.

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

November 12: Spaghetti Dinner
5pm – 7pm | Cuoco
Cuoco is benefitting Teen Feed at an upcoming Spaghetti Dinner on Sunday, November 12th. Guests will enjoy housemade spaghetti and meatballs, Caesar salads, fresh garlic bread, two glasses of house wine (white or red) and a seasonal sorbet for dessert – for just $30/person! All proceeds will go to Teen Feed, and there will also be raffles for additional prizes.

November 25: Greet the Season – Celebrating Community
10am – 5pm | Lake Union Park
Local organizations are hosting a day filled with art, music, dance, and family-friendly crafting to build the community in “Greet the Season: Celebrating Community”. Click here for the complete schedule.

Amazon’s Boom Has Completely Transformed the Views Downtown, SLU

By Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Two dozen people zigzag through Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, footsteps crunching on pavement and gravel. A local blog called The Urbanist organized the tour about the history of this neighborhood — the location of Amazon’s first headquarters.

In a few years, the view around HQ1 has morphed from low-slung warehouses to tall, modern apartment buildings and cranes that poke out of construction sites around every bend.

“It looks like a millennial paradise,” said Seattle resident Anthony Bridgewater, who took the tour.

Cities across North America are sending their best pitches to Amazon to host the company’s second headquarters. Seattle is among the cities making a bid, but the city’s residents are split between those who are wringing their hands over the company’s possible expansion in a different location, and those who say “no thanks.”

Seattle’s recent changes are dizzying. Just two metrics: in 10 years, the population has increased over 20 percent and the median home price has increased around 50 percent to $730,000.

The region is home to a lot of Fortune 500 companies, all driving growth, though Amazon is Seattle’s largest employer.

Pam Carter has lived in Seattle for decades. She and her husband recently moved across town after selling to developers who put up a five-story apartment building.

“Our house no longer exists,” she said. The tour passes one high rise. Carter remembers when it went up. “You suddenly couldn’t see the Olympic Mountains. And I hated that,” Carter said. Sometimes she gets lost without landmarks­­­ in sight, she said.

Terry Franguiadakis moved to Seattle in the ’90s.

“We felt like it was an empty city,” he said. “There was a lot of parking lots. It was kind of desolate.” Now it gets more vibrant every year, he said, with good restaurants, people living in the city and milling around the streets. “I think it’s great,” Franguiadakis said.

But, the city wasn’t prepared for the boom, especially not in the housing market, said Ethan Phelps-Goodman with the organization Seattle Tech 4 Housing.

Amazon’s next host should get ready quickly, so low- and middle-income people don’t get priced out, he said.

“You’re going to need to build abundant housing to go along with all those jobs that are going to stream in, not just for the Amazon employees, but for the restaurant workers, and the baristas, and the security guards, and the many, many jobs that will be created by all the new wealth,” Phelps-Goodman said.

According to Amazon, the company’s presence is a boon to Seattle’s economy, and the company gives back to the local community through philanthropy and volunteering.

The company will announce the location of its second headquarters next year.

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Amazon’s New Troy Building Opened Last Week in SLU

By Sarah Anne Lloyd

As Amazon expands their campus downtown—and looks to expand into other cities—they’re still gaining office space in South Lake Union. The latest project to house Amazon offices in the neighborhood, the Troy Building, officially opened last week.


Located between Boren and Fairview avenues and Harrison and Thomas streets, the complex includes two towers, one 12-story and the other 13-story, connected by a lower-rise building. The design by architecture firm Perkins+Will incorporates two historic buildings. The first is the project’s namesake, the 1927 Troy Laundry Building, a two-story Beaux Arts structure declared a Seattle landmark in 1996. The second, the Boren Investment Building, is a 1938 warehouse declared a landmark in 2011, just as plans solidified for the Troy Block.

The original buildings are clear from a distance, with the original rooflines and ornamentation preserved. Up close, the brickwork and original window style add a historic touch.

From the top: The façade of the Troy Laundry building between the north and south towers. The reception area of the south building. A flexible seating area in the north building. A meeting area in the north tower.

In addition to the 817,000 square feet that’s going to Amazon offices, the project includes five restaurants by Farestart, a nonprofit that provides job training to people struggling with homelessness, addiction, poverty, or a criminal record.

From the top: The interior of Rise Café by Farestart. Farestart’s Community Table.  The exterior of Maslow’s by Farestart.

The project was started by Seattle-based developer Touchstone, who was purchased by another local developer, Urban Renaissance Group, in 2014.

This massive uptick in office space comes soon after Amazon’s announcement that they’d be taking over all the office space in Seattle’s soon-to-be second-tallest skyscraper, the Rainier Tower. To the north, construction is still underway expanding Amazon’s massive campus surrounding the new Day One building—and the spheres.

Syndicated from Seattle Curbed.

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