A new corporate campus under construction on the south shore of Lake Washington could be a game changer for the city of Renton.
Occupying a prime stretch of waterfront near Boeing’s 737 manufacturing plant, Seco Development’s $570 million Southport is being designed to attract a major new employer, bringing to Renton thousands of employees to patronize local businesses and increase home sales.
Who that employer might be is still open to enthusiastic conjecture, but the rush of California tech companies like Google, Facebook and Apple into the Seattle real estate market provides ample fodder for speculation. For such a scenario to unfold, Renton-based Seco must change Renton’s image as a blue-collar company town largely devoted to making airplanes. Economic Development Director Cliff Long is confident this new development, the first new Class A office space in years, will do just that.
“It is a spectacular site,” says Long. “I think this complex will have the ability to attract some nice new tenants to our community.”
On a recent list of 185 tenants looking for office space in the region, only two listed Renton, a city with a population just under 100,000, as a desired location. The lion’s share of the prospective tenants wanted to locate in Bellevue or Seattle.
Partly, it’s because there’s not much Class A office space in the Renton/Tukwila submarket — just 792,441 square feet, according to a first-quarter report by the real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle. And most of that space is already leased; only 2 percent was available for immediate occupancy. Bellevue, meanwhile, has 7.6 million square feet of Class A office space, of which 10.5 percent is available.
When Southport opens in January 2018, the 17.5-acre mixed-use project will nearly double the amount of prime office space available in the Renton/Tukwila submarket, adding 730,000 square feet of Class A office space in three nine-story buildings.
The development will most closely resemble Kirkland’s tony Carillon Point waterfront office development. Like Carillon Point, the Southport project has easy access to waterfront amenities. Just east of Southport is the 57-acre Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park, which has walking trails, beaches, boating facilities, restaurants, and volleyball and tennis courts.
The office project will include structured parking for more than 2,000 vehicles as well as special storage facilities for kayaks and bicycles.
And then there’s the development’s deepwater private dock — ideal for a corporate yacht. There’s also talk about adding a heliport. With about 30,000 square feet of retail space on the entire Southport site, there’s room for up to five restaurants.
Thanks in part to capacity developed for the nearby Boeing plant, Southport has access to an energy grid with extra backup power and fiber-optic connectivity offering data speeds up to 100 gigabytes per second.