Hoop Dreams: Impact of arena questioned


     When a basketball arena moves into the neighborhood, what happens?

     Chris Hansen’s proposed home for an NBA franchise (and maybe a hockey team, too) is still in the arguing phase, but already there is considerable speculation and concern about the impact of the arena’s construction, according to a recent research report issued by the real estate services firm Kidder Mathews.

     It’s not just the arena, for which Hansen has already spent nearly $54 million in assembling properties, the report notes. It’s also the push for more hotel rooms, more apartments, more nonindustrial uses in what is one of Seattle’s last large concentrations of manufacturing and warehouse operations.

     Those trends are meeting with resistance. The Port of Seattle and the longshore union are already on record opposing the arena’s siting just south of the Safeco Field parking garage. (Kidder Mathews says there’s a large market for leasing yard areas near the port.) Industrial firms in SoDo were unhappy with the encroachment of retailing, residential, entertainment and related activities well before the arena proposal surfaced. And as the Kidder Mathews report notes, the city has maximum size restrictions on nonindustrial uses in a designated area of SoDo (the arena itself is proposed for an area where such activity is allowed).

     What Kidder Mathews is predicting, and what the port and some industrial tenants of the area fear, is a tight local real estate market getting even tighter—and more expensive. Kidder Mathews says the 3.44 percent vacancy rate easily bests other markets in the Puget Sound region. By comparison, South King County, the state’s largest industrial market, had a 6.5 percent vacancy rate in the fourth quarter of 2012.

      The long-term impact, according to Kidder Mathews, will be “a loss of industrial supply.” That echoes an assertion made in a Seattle Planning Commission report last summer: “The proposed arena is likely to put further conversion pressure on nearby manufacturing and industrial business.”

Seattle-Bellevue office space market remains red hot

Seattle-Bellevue office space market remains red hot

Despite 17-year high in new space coming on the market, more than half has already been leased.

You’d have to go all the way back to the heady days of the dot-com boom in 2000 to match the amount of new office space coming on to the Seattle-Bellevue market this year. 

It’s been 17 years since this much office space – 4.6 million square feet total –has been set to be delivered, according to a Q4 2016 report from the Chicago-based real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle. Just over half of that space, 51.2 percent, has been preleased.

Last year marked the fourth consecutive year that the Seattle-Bellevue office market was able to absorb more than 2 million square feet of additional space. Much of the current leasing activity comes from companies growing rather than relocating their offices, according to JLL research manager Alex Muir. That will soften the impact on vacancy rates. “You could see some second generation space struggle but the bulk of the major deals is expansion,” says Muir.

 Much of the demand for space is coming from tech companies, which accounted for roughly 60 percent of the leasing activity for 2016. The strong demand for office space, said Muir, “is coming from local companies growing and increasingly from Bay Area companies migrating to the region.”

The attraction: The Seattle area offers outsiders a robust cadre of tech workers and rents that are substantially cheaper than office rents in California. New office space in appealing downtown neighborhoods has proven itself a valuable recruiting tool for tech firms such as Amazon, Google and Facebook, which are going toe to toe for local tech workers. (Tech Firms Continue to Establish and Expand Engineering Centers.)

At the end of 2016, total office vacancies stood at 9.2 percent, with average asking rents up 2.7 percent year over year to $34.90 per square foot fully serviced. The downtown Seattle and Bellevue office markets are roughly midway through a peaking real estate market cycle, according to the JLL report.  JLJ senior vice president Daniel Seger describes the market as “still incredibly strong” and anticipates continued rent growth this year.

The continued demand for space is helping transform downtown Seattle and Bellevue. In Seattle, it’s helping revitalize the area around City Hall where two new office developments -- The Mark, a $400 million, 528,000–square-foot office project by Seattle’s Daniels Real Estate and Madison Centre, a $157 million mixed use project with 746,000 square feet of office space and 8,000 square feet of retail space by Bellevue’s Schnitzer West LLC -- will be completed this year.

Meanwhile, recent leasing activity has made Bellevue a more balanced market says JLL managing director Chris Hughes. “Moving forward Bellevue will be a little more broad a marketplace with a better balance of tenants than in the last cycle,” Hughes said. “That will be a benefit moving forward.”