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 rails 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.
There have been rumors circulating that Amazon is looking into purchasing some of the Clise family’s properties in the Denny Way triangle. The deal has been kept very quiet and few knowledgeable Real Estate sources have even heard explicit details on how much they’re planning on sweeping; if they’re planning to purchase at all. Amazon is quickly growing out of their South Lake Union headquarters, and is said to need an additional 2 million square feet over the next five years. With the company expanding in a tight knit area like SLU, moving into a different neighborhood would make sense, as it can be difficult to purchase connecting properties and prices will have skyrocketed because seller’s know they’re in high demand. The Clise properties are near Amazon’s South Lake Union campus, in areas like Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, and Belltown. Sweeping up larger properties in other neighborhoods would certainly gentrify the area; Amazon has totally changed the vibe of South lake Union, with new swanky restaurants, and high end amenities.
Pine Street Group has unveiled the new name for it’s current project on 6th and Lenora: Via6. The $200 million dollar apartment complex began construction last spring, with 100 workers currently on site. Production will increase to 350 workers this summer, and pre-leasing is said to begin in the fall. Designed by GGLO, and in collaboration with MKA, Via6 is a single structure unit with sister 24 story towers, connecting to a 6 story base. The complex will house 16,000 sq ft of retail space, that is proposed to include a bicycle club with storage space and shower units for commuting tenants. Via6 will be ready for tenants to move in Spring of 2013.
Along 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.
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?
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.
According 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.
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.
The San Francisco development firm, MacFarlane Partners, bought a half-acre site in South Lake Union for $6.25 million and will build 160 apartment units, due to the strength of Seattle’s apartment market. It is pursuing permits starting next week and will be starting construction in 9-12 months, with Ankrom Moison Architects as its design firm.