A-P Hurd, vice president for development at Touchstone Corporation, which specializes in mid-rise tech office buildings, is optimistic about the Seattle area because of its emergence as a “talent magnet” for young tech professionals. “California companies now see Seattle as a lower-cost market in a no-income-tax state with a well-educated workforce,” says Hurd.
She notes Pioneer Square’s older buildings have smaller footprints that are attractive to small tech companies with seven to 20 people on staff. But larger companies, particularly those with more than 300 employees, have fewer options. “That’s why we’re seeing new projects and new opportunities in the Denny Triangle and South Lake Union,” Hurd says. Touchstone expects the city to approve a plan to rezone the area to accommodate business growth by allowing taller buildings and a broader range of occupants beyond industrial use.
“There are a lot of folks at the city who are really doing their best to craft a balance in terms of an evolving neighborhood and economic development opportunities,” Hurd says. “We don’t want to lose the great [neighborhood] vibe, but at the same time, we don’t want to squander the [redevelopment] opportunity.”
Hurd says the region’s economy is strong but it could be 2013 before the nation’s economy is strong enough for financial institutions to be comfortable with investing more aggressively in new projects.