Puget Sound Sees Positive Signs

By Alex Girda, Associate Editor The national market is still not looking great, but for Seattle there currently are several indications that it’s not looking that bad, either. The news this week indicates positive moves in the larger sectors of the [...]

The national market is still not looking great, but for Seattle there currently are several indications that it’s not looking that bad, either. The news this week indicates positive moves in the larger sectors of the market and a couple of interesting ways of dealing with the shortcomings of the by now well-known recession.

The first bit of real estate news comes from the commercial sector, where brokerage firm Kidder Matthews has landed a deal it will be very happy to close. The real estate firm is now handling marketing and leasing for the largest group of industrial properties the Puget Sound Area has to offer. The square footage is truly impressive, as it comprises 3.8 million square feet in the Kent Valley. The space is divided into 2.8 million square feet in Northwest Corporate Park, the largest industrial park in the Kent Valley, with the rest consisting of Kent North Corporate Park. Kidder Matthews representatives declared that they relish the opportunity of taking on such a large assignment.

Staying with office market news, a recent report by real estate firm Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Services placed Seattle as the fourth most improved office market in terms of vacancy at the national level. This impressive feat comes as a direct result of big office deals closed during past months, such as Russell Investments’ deal for more than 200,000 square feet in the former Washington Mutual headquarters in downtown Seattle. Amazon.com followed with big office deals even after its massive move into the new headquarters campus in South Lake Union.

By taking the 70,000 square feet in Columbia Center, Amazon.com declared its commitment to Seattle and improved absorption rates. Estimates for the following year also look very good, according to Marcus & Millichap, with a forecast of 1.3 million square feet to be taken into possession by the end of this year and a vacancy rate that will drop from a 20 percent to 14.6 percent .

The residential market is also seeing activity, with Seattle developer Pine Street Group planning on breaking ground in the coming weeks on a high-rise apartment complex. The development, which will be set in the Denny Triangle, will be the largest downtown construction in about three-and-a-half years. Comprising two 24-story towers, the 654-unit development will be named the Sixth & Lenora Apartments. According to current figures, the project is slated to become the second-largest market-rate apartment community in a city that has recently begun a race to meet increasing demand for in-city rentals. The project will also have 18,000 square feet of retail space. It is scheduled for completion in February 2013.

Finally, an interesting way of dealing with empty storefronts has appeared out of the resourcefulness of Seattle-based owners and artists. The Storefronts Seattle program means artists get free rent and in return practically stage the spaces while on the market for potential tenants. It’s one of those serendipitous deals that make the recession look far less worse than it is.