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Seattle's Big Boom

Seattle

The tech world loves Seattle. And that love is reciprocated by the commercial real estate community. It drove demand for office, multifamily, and retail in 2013, and will again this year, according to top experts at Bisnow’s recent third annual Seattle State of the Market event. (Perhaps no surprise given the Millennial motto: "Find job, rent apartment, get stuff.") 

Seattle's Big Boom

No one knows this better than the Eastside's legendary Kemper Freeman (interviewed theatre-in-the-round by our own Mark Bisnow). Beginning with 10 acres that his grandfather bought in downtown Bellevue in 1944--which local wags called "Freeman's folly"--Kemper told 400 avid listeners his family's goal has been developing commercial real estate that the community needs. "The important thing isn't the number of stores, but how good they are," he says. The retail at the Bellevue Collection is now in its fifth year of 10% or more growth.

Seattle's Big Boom

We showed this picture of Kemper at age 17. He laughed and said that by coincidence he had just encountered the tractor again the week before, and for old time's sake, bought it back.

Seattle's Big Boom

Holland Partners CEO Clyde Holland says his company recently poured the 30th floor on 815 Pine, which will ultimately rise 40 stories and include 383 apartment units--and that's just one of over nearly 20 deals underway for the company. He says that one issue on the residential side is that costs are rising much faster than rents.

Seattle's Big Boom

Whadya' know--we looked out the window during networking at the Hyatt Olive 8 and saw 815 Pine in the flesh.

Seattle's Big Boom

R.C. Hedreen Co director of design Shana Decker says her company is doing a 2.2M SF development of the former Greyhound site that'll include a 1,680-room convention hotel, as well as retail and affordable housing. Mandated affordability doesn't have a place in every project, she says, but does have an important place in the city, and public and private interests have to be creative to make it work.

Seattle's Big Boom

Bellwether Housing executive director Sarah Lewontin says that the company has about 30 affordable housing properties in Seattle, serving 3,000 working people and independent seniors. In a period of dynamic job growth, the issue of how people can live in the area affordably is urgent, Sarah explains. Another important question: Where will funding for improved public transit come from? "That's critical to the health of the city, and in particular for our residents, only half of whom can afford a car."

Seattle's Big Boom

Cairncross & Hempelmann legal guru Don Marcy summarized the state of the market as good because the area enjoys job growth, an increasing housing supply, and investors who love the place.

Seattle's Big Boom

Snapped in the audience: Wallace Properties' Bob Wallace and Martin Selig Real Estate's Martin Selig. Bob tells us that the Seattle apartment market gets an A, while downtown office gets a B+. "I'm always hopeful about next year," he says. "It's like the Mariners--come next spring."

Seattle's Big Boom

Also on hand: Kidder Mathews CEO Jeff Lyon. The company earned a number of props in '13, such as Best Place to Work from the Puget Sound Business Journal (the seventh time in a row) and Fastest Growing Private Company recognition from Inc magazine.

Seattle's Big Boom

And great to see BOMA Seattle president Rod Kauffman, right, with NI Commercial's Norm Ives.