Wells Fargo (Access5) LSEA
January 7, 2015

Retail: It's All About the Experience

Job growth, income growth and a young population is a recipe for new and adventurous retail growth. That's why we're excited to present Seattle Retail: Hot Spots, Big Players, and New Deals this Friday, Jan. 9, at 7:30am at the Four Seasons Seattle.

Lake Union Partners principal Joe Ferguson, who will be a speaker at our event, tells us that he's bullish on retail prospects for 2015, but even so it's tricky getting the right retailer in the right place. Joe says that rents are rising, but in a world of urban mixed-use projects, a landlord who wants to attract "dynamic operators" still faces stiff competition.

Lake Union Partners aims to "run one level deeper" than other developers by recruiting up-and-coming retailers with interesting concepts, Joe adds. Such retail is an integral part of the mixed-use projects that LUP has developed in Seattle and Portland, such as the 50-unit 19 Mercer development in Capitol Hill, which includes Tallulah's restaurant, Cone & Steiner, the Herbalist and Hello Robin and Molly (pictured).

Elvis will also be at our event. Actually, that's Callison design principal Bret Wiggins, who plays Elvis in his free time. At our event, Bret will be speaking about retail trends. “People shop differently today,” he says. “Omni channeling--all forms of retailing, whether bricks and mortar, the Internet, mobile devices, television--is ever-present.” Shoppers are going online, but still prefer to see and feel the products before buying. Online retail sales are still increasing (14% last year), but growth appears to be slowing down. Many Internet-only stores are going offline, finding out that there is a lot of money to be made in a bricks-and-mortar experience, he says.  

Bret notes that the key word now is experience. “As a retail designer, it's imperative that we design for the end user and create experiential retail for the shopper,” he explains. “If we create a memorable experience with great food and beverage offerings, and cater to great retail, customers stay longer and come back often.” That, he emphasizes, is essential for the future of retail (and what gets him excited to come to work in the morning). Pictured: Shekou Sea World Plaza in China, a recent project in which Bret was lead designer, which he says is “all about the experience.” Sign up for Seattle Retail: Hot Spots, Big Players, and New Deals this Friday, Jan. 9, at 7:30am at the Four Seasons Seattle. (Register here.)

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Office Set to Sizzle Again

Retail isn't the only Seattle property type that's going to have a gangbuster 2015: office will too. Patrick Callahan, now CEO of both Urban Renaissance Group (URG) and Touchstone, tells us that this year, developers will push to get office buildings online faster to meet ongoing demand. Office rents hit record highs in Downtown Bellevue and Seattle last year, and Patrick believes rents will continue to increase "as absorption exceeds new delivery, including all current office projects underway." Just ahead of the holidays, Seattle-based URG acquired Touchstone, which is currently developing office properties including the 300k SF Hill7, the 210k SF NorthEdge, the 300k SF Tilt 49 and the 817k SF Troy Block, as well as a Hilton Garden Inn and the Everett Marriott Courtyard (Touchstone's owners are remaining as URG general partners, seeing these through completion).


Seattle No. 1 for Job Seekers

Looking for a new job in the new year? Seattle's the place. WalletHub reports that Seattle is the No. 1 city in the nation for finding a new job. Robust employment growth, as our State the Market speakers pointed out, is sustaining real estate growth. WalletHub used job market metrics such as employment growth, median starting salaries and unemployment rate for college-educated workers. The company also considered factors such as median annual income for the area, housing, crime stats and social amenities. After Seattle, the next best places are Des Moines, Gilbert, AZ; Sioux Falls, SD; and Fremont, CA. (We know we have better coffee, an essential part of the workplace, than any of those.)

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