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Tech Takeover at SAM

Tech Takeover at SAM
More than 150 joined us at the Seattle Art Museum Friday morning to hear our four all-star panelists talk tech in one of the nation's hottest markets. They also came to check out the museum's awesome Cai Guo-Hung piece "Inopportune: Stage One," which might be more descriptively titled "Full Size Cars Hanging From the Ceiling With Colored Lights Shooting Out of Them."
Seattle Bisnow Tech Event at the Seattle Art Museum
What makes Seattle such a successful tech hub? PCCP partner Bryan Thornton, who came up from San Francisco for the event, suggests it's the rain. "Programmers and engineers just draw the shades down and turn out the lights, and it's easier to do that when it's raining out."

Dan Ivanoff and Mike Shields at Seattle Bisnow Tech Event at Seattle Art Museum
Sure, rain is great, but we shouldn't discount the University of Washington either, Schnitzer West founder Dan Ivanoff said. "UW is a monster driver of all that showing up," he added. ("I hate to hear that," retorted Sabey's Clete Casper, a Washington State Cougar.) Besides a large salary and the option of bringing their dogs to work, what do tech workers truly desire? Decent food, apparently. Recently, in an elevator at Schnitzer-built Shops at The Bravern in Bellevue, Dan got to talking with a Microsoft worker. "Do you like this building?" Dan asked. "Yeah, it's OK," the employee shrugged. "What do you like about it?" Dan pressed. "The cafeteria," was the reply.
Mike Shields and Bryan Thornton at Seattle Bisnow Tech Event at the Seattle Art Museum
One burning question is whether tech companies will still want to be located in city centers in the future. Dan says no: "Eventually the cost is going to make it so that there is more migration back into the suburbs." Still, Bryan pointed out that other hot markets, like San Fran and Austin, are still all about the Central Business District. But occupancy costs are going to make a difference in the coming years: "When you get profit erosion, there are shifts in thinking," Dan noted. Bryan said he just hopes thinking doesn't shift to the point where open ceilings are uncool in 10 years.
Mike Shields at Seattle Bisnow Tech Event at Seattle Art Museum
Wherever the cool place for tech companies to live in the future, it's likely to be near a transit hub (and also near where the CEO lives), said Kilroy Realty Senior VP Mike Shields. Since tolling on the 520 bridge now costs car commuters around $1,700 per year, "that's when people start taking mass transit," he said. "Even if they can afford not to, that makes a difference to a lot of people." For companies that want the urban experience while remaining close to the suburbs, Bellevue provides the happy medium: "Ten years ago Bellevue's Central Business District was the last place to fill. Now it's the first."
Clete Casper at Seattle Bisnow Tech Event at Seattle Art Museum
Sabey director of real estate Clete Casper, who confessed that his idea of high tech is listening to vinyl, has great expectations for South Lake Union. Sustainability is also going to be a big factor, as companies figure out how to refurbish old buildings rather than building new ones. "Initially, I kind of dismissed sustainability as bullsh**," Clete confessed (see what you're missing by not coming to these events?). The drivers that will continue economic growth in this area? Education and angel capital. And yes, maybe even rain.
Charles Royce at Seattle Bisnow Tech Event at Seattle Art Museum
We'd be deeply remiss not to mention moderator extraordinaire Charles Royce of K&L Gates, who graciously agreed to emcee the festivities on short notice and did a fantastic job. We asked Charles what the City of Seattle can do to facilitate tech growth: "I think the city can make things easier by supporting the development of property that is attractive to tech tenants." While the city has been somehwat proactive about making it easier for developers in Fremont and Pioneer Square, "the further out you go, that's not always the case," he said. "There is a lot of vacant and underutilized land just outside these neighborhoods."