State of the Market: Seattle Still Has Room to Run
There's always the risk of temporary overbuilding or other bumps along the way, but Seattle's got new momentum as a global city, according to the speakers at Bisnow's Seattle State of the Market. Over 500 came to the Seattle Marriott to hear about one of the best real estate markets in the country, and how it still has room to grow.
Our keynote speakers talked about the future of the workplace, especially in Seattle, which is one of the most advanced markets in the country for collaborative space and workplace amenities. But that poses a challenge for businesses here: how do they stand out in the competition for talent? It can be tough, but the more a space allows someone to connect to their organization, the more it makes them feel that what they're doing matters—the better for the company and its employees. The keynoters were Kinzer Partners founder Craig Kinzer, NBBJ principal Kelly Griffin, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation director Norma Miller.
Bisnow's Mike Martinez interviewed Sabey Corp president Dave Sabey, who said that it's good to think of Seattle as being on the East Coast—the East Coast of the Pacific Rim, that is. China may be wobbling a bit now, but in the long run, it's the biggest thing in the world, offering unprecedented opportunities for Seattle businesses, and it will be a major driver for real estate here. Seattle's growth as a global city won't be without its bumps, but it will grow; it's really only just begun.
Residential growth in Seattle's urban core is famously healthy, and not likely to slow down, our speakers noted, as demand continues from Boomers and Millennials—but the city isn't the only part of the Puget Sound region benefiting from the strong market. Millennials are growing older, and many of them will find themselves wanting to be in the suburbs after all, or already want to be there. Affordable housing is a major problem for the market, the speakers said, but also an opportunity for companies with that expertise. Our residential outlook panel was moderated by Paladino director Dina Belon, and included Holland Development president Tom Parsons and Goodman Real Estate CEO George Petrie.
Despite all the cranes in the skyline, our speakers posited that the risk of overbuilding in the Seattle office market is still relatively low. The consistent demand by intellectual capital companies is steady, but it's more disciplined this time around. Neither tenants nor developers are quite as gung-ho as they were in the 2000s, so the overbuilding risk is lower now. Unless, of course, there's some kind of global shock that affects demand everywhere—the kind of wild card that's hard to plan for. Our office outlook speakers included JLL managing director Stuart Williams, NES Financial EVP Reid Thomas, and Schnitzer West CEO Daniel Ivanoff.
Will tech companies migrate from South Lake Union and Pioneer Square into other parts of the Seattle core? It's already happening, our panelists noted. It's one reason that those submarkets are tight. Not only that, space is being redeveloped in other markets to make it more tech-friendly. Also on the office panel: Talon Private Capital investment director Jeff Rakow, Touchstone president A-P Hurd, and Washington Real Estate Holdings CEO Craig Wrench. DCI Engineers COO Roger Heeringa moderated.