Is Everyone Moving to Interbay?

seattle sunset“Location, location, location,” has been said is the key to success in real estate. So on the heels of Expedia’s announcement to move to Interbay, Lennar Multifamily Communities couldn’t have been more on the mark in building a seven-story, 221-unit apartment project. Located just north of the new Expedia headquarters, which plans to house 4,500 employees, the apartment project plans to wrap construction in late 2017 or early 2018. Perfect timing to welcome Expedia to the neighborhood.

Lennar Multifamily wasn’t aware of Expedia’s plans to relocate when they took on the project late last year.  The complex will go up where the Quest Church currently resides, which is moving into the previously owned Mars Hill flagship church, located in Ballard. Brad Reisinger, of Lennar Multifamily, told the Puget Sound Business Journal that, “even without Expedia, we always thought Interbay had a lot of potential.”

The sentiment rings true for a number of developers and investors, as the Lennar complex is one of three apartment projects going up in surrounding area of QFC at 15 Avenue West and West Dravus Street. Beyond the development deals happening, it seems that the investment already shows promise as new apartment complexes in the area are already full.

Nestled in between Ballard and downtown, two neighborhoods that are growing at an exponential rate, it’s not surprising the Interbay neighborhood has piqued the interest of developers and investors alike. With dependable public transportation along the 15th Ave./Elliott corridor, the area offers a lot in terms of expansion and mobility. This area will be one to watch over the next few year, if it isn’t already.

Possibility of Streetcars returning to Seattle

It has been over 70 years since Seattle has had streetcars. Once people began moving out of the city and into suburbs and cars became more popular and convenient, there wasn’t as much of a need for them. The railTrolleys were removed and paved streets took their place. But now, as more and more people begin moving back into the city the idea of bringing back functioning streetcars has emerged.

One idea is to have the streetcar run down 4th and 5th which would serve mostly commuters and may not have as much use on the weekends as the more favored idea of having the streetcar run down 1st Avenue would. Although having it run on 4th and 5th would be almost $50 million cheaper, being on 1st, the streetcar would run past bars, new restaurants, shops and places that are more popular to tourists all days of the week including weekends. Tom Graff of Ewing and Clark, Inc. agrees that running down 1st is the better option. It would help boost business and attract more to the area.

Some business owners are concerned that if the project does move forward, construction may cause problems by limiting parking spaces and obstructing accessibility to their businesses. They realize that they will benefit from it being on 1st and accept the idea if construction can be controlled. The City of Seattle held an open house Wednesday evening for those who wanted to learn more and discuss the topic as well as to kick off the                                         Center City Connector Project which will explore transit options for downtown.

South Lake Union Attracting Universities

WalkabilityAlong with attracting business headquarters, South Lake Union is attracting universities, due to its high-tech job growth. City University is moving its headquarters from Bellevue to South Lake Union at 6th and Wall. Boston-based Northeastern University is looking at South Lake Union as a place for its graduate program. Finally, University of Washington is already working on three buildings in the SLU neighborhood.

It makes sense that South Lake Union is attracting universities. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, South Lake Union has seen 6.35 million sq.ft in new development from 2004-2010, at an assessed value of $1.1 billion. It’s expected to generate $6 million in tax revenue, not including the added amount of property value increase. Unfortunately, South Lake Union is facing the problem of a lack of office space available over 10,000 sq. ft.

Seattle May See Rehab-To-Rent Pilot Program

According to a Fast Company blog, Seattle may be one of the first cities in the United States to launch the pilot program, Rehab-to-Rent. Proposed as a way to handle the steady stream of foreclosures being released on the market in the future, Rehab-for-Rent would convert foreclosures into Seattle energy-efficient rentals. Suggestions include ensuring bidders have a decent track record, encourage local community organizations to bid, and offering incentives to the bidders to renovate. The full CAP report is here. An idea like this has the potential to stabilize the housing market, create jobs, and raise the current apartment inventory level; it’s certainly an upside to the housing situation we face. What are your thoughts on it?

For more details on the report, please click here.

Washington Commercial Construction Firms Optimistic

According to a Seattle Times article, Washington commercial construction firms are more optimistic than the rest of the country. According to a survey, the Washington firms boasted more positive numbers on various levels. 40% of Washington firms plan to hire new workers, while only 32% nationwide feel the same way. 2% of Washington firms plan layoffs, while 9% plan nationwide plan layoffs. Finally, 57% of Washington firms believe construction market will grow again in 2013-2014 versus 39% nationwide who feel the same way.

Is Washington State in positive economic health and likely to rebound quickly in commercial construction or do the Washington State construction firms simply wear rose-colored glasses?

Growing Optimism in Housing Market

According to a Moody’s Analytics report via Realtor Mag, there is growing optimism in the housing market. Existing home sales, new home construction, and new home sales are all predicted to significantly rise in 2012. It’s predicted that new construction will see a 37% boost, with sales of new construction increasing 74%. Existing homes will see a 12% increase in sales.

These double-digit increase predictions are largely due to the gains in housing stocks and consumer confidence. The S&P home building index increased 38% from mid-October. Regarding consumer confidence, 71% of consumers believe it’s a good time to buy, and over 1 out of 4 people believe prices will rise.

Holland Residential Building Residential Community in South Lake Union

Magnolia ApartmentAccording to the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, Holland Residential will be starting construction in June on a six-story, 285-unit residential building on 801 Dexter Ave N. It will also include 8 live-work units, 4,400 sq. ft of retail space, and 232 parking spaces. The design will face the design review board on March 7th, at 6:30, at the Queen Anne Community Center.

It will accompany the other residential buildings being built on 717 Dexter and 907 Dexter. Holland Residential is also constructing a 300-unit complex at 1319 Dexter Ave N. and a 142-unit complex at 1201 Mercer St. This flurry of apartment building is motivated by the recent expansion of Amazon, the construction of Gates Foundation, and overall development of the South Lake Union neighborhood in Seattle.

Seattle Times – Pacific Northwest: A Take on a Backyard Cottage

Seattle Backyard CottageWith the popularity of backyard cottages in Seattle, here’s another take on one in Edison, WA, located by Samish Bay near Bellingham, WA. Architect David Hall built a 448 sq.ft economic backyard studio for $106,000. The south-facing flexible studio has floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors, which lends itself to become a detached bedroom, a guesthouse, an art studio, reading room, and even an assisted living quarters. Its flexible nature and openness to the outdoors connects the occupants with the landscape, reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright designs. Some even view it as a potential design for emergency housing during floods. To learn more, please read the Seattle Times – Pacific Northwest article.

Seattle Commercial Real Estate: Small Office Spaces Filling Up

Three Pioneer Square Buildings Sold for $19MAccording to a Seattle Times real estate article, Seattle commercial real estate is experiencing lower vacancy rates and increasing rents. The expected decline in office vacancies is expected to continue, a good sign signaling an upturn in the economy. However, speculative office building isn’t expected to happen unless there is a big-name tenant, like Amazon, to commit to the space. So, if a company wants 50,000 square feet, there isn’t much in terms of current inventory. Currently, Class A office space is $32.98/sq.ft in Seattle, and $31.38/sq.ft in Bellevue. Read the article for more details.

Seattle Apartment Construction Improving Seattle Housing Market

Due to the influx of apartment construction, 2011 will be the first year since 2007 where housing construction will help the economy grow. There has been a surge in apartment construction, as signaled by the cranes in Ballard and South Lake Union, as well as an increase in permits, signaling future construction in Seattle.

For every new home that is built, it creates three jobs and adds $90,000 in taxes. For more details, read the Seattle Times article.