Commercial Real Estate

23rd & Union Becoming Mixed-Use Apartments

There’s an interesting piece by Joe Nabbefeld in the Daily Journal of Commerce yesterday that states that the “creative class” is “annexing” the corner of 23rd and Union Street to make it a part of the “Capitol Hill” district.

As it turns out, Lake Union Partners is constructing 92 apartments above street-level retail shops and there will be an underground parking garage.

New apartments - mixed use building at 23rd and Union St in Seattle

New apartments – mixed use building at 23rd and Union St in Seattle

Without particularly taking sides, Nabbefeld relates the viewpoint from a segment of area locals that are Continue reading

Commercial Real Estate

Georgetown Morgue Haunted House: A Perfectly Repurposed Building

Georgetown Morgue, Seattle, WALike many other cities, Seattle has its share of repurposed buildings. The Fischer Studio Building, originally a performance and music school/concert hall, is now condominiums. The Squire Building, once a warehouse, is now an office building. The building that now houses Osteria La Spiga, an Italian restaurant in the Capitol Hill district, was once an auto body shop.

While not a repurposing in the strictest sense of the word (it’s not a permanent restructuring), perhaps one of the most perfect repurposings is the Georgetown Morgue Haunted House. Built as a mortuary in 1928, the building stayed true to its purpose through most of its life, becoming the Georgetown Morgue in 1969. In 1989 it changed from processing human bodies to processing meat products for the Richland Processing Corporation. Continue reading

Residential Real Estate

Seattle Growth Stability Threatened By Lack Of Housing Plan

The Downtown Seattle Association has issued a recommendation stating that Seattle needs a comprehensive housing strategy. I couldn’t agree more! Mark Barbieri wrote:

“Strong employment growth in Seattle’s urban core is providing economic opportunity and also increasing demand for housing across Seattle. Tens of thousands of housing units have been created in Seattle over the last 20 years, but today Seattle lacks a comprehensive plan to maintain affordability and the production of market-rate units.”

The Downtown Association further supports the concept by suggesting that there are also lost revenue and growth opportunities inherent when a housing strategy isn’t pursued in tandem with the commercial growth:

Seattle Housing Strategy Statistics

The warning is very timely, and I think that the risk is real. If you’ve followed the West Coast news at all, you’ll know that the growth of high-paying jobs in the technical sector for the San Francisco Bay area has resulted in rising housing costs for the city. As the residential property market went over a tipping point, it began making sense for lower-rent property owners to upgrade their properties for sale or rent, pushing out renters who are lower in the socioeconomic strata. But, where could they go? The land mass of San Francisco is pretty limited and saturated, so there has not been alternative housing options opening up, and the lower-paid workforce has felt the pinch.

The result of the pressure in San Francisco has actually resulted in hostility towards many of the high-tech companies that have driven the job growth and demand on housing. Continue reading

Commercial Real Estate

Seattle’s Skyline Becoming More Dense

As commercial real estate projects are progressing, Seattle’s skyline is set to become a bit denser, according to illustrations published in the Puget Sound Business Journal this week. The 3-d realized projections of new business building projects by Cushman Wakefield shows a number of new large and small buildings are shouldering their way into the Seattle downtown city scape.

Seattle Skyline Expanding Rapidly

Seattle Skyline Expanding Rapidly

The illustration shows the ghostly outlines of future buildings, assuming all the proposed buildings (depicted in red) are constructed and completed.

Currently, there’s more than 100 projects that are either approved, about to break ground, or actually under construction, or completed since 2013, according to the Downtown Seattle Association.

Sometimes, loyal and devoted city natives can get a bit alarmed when they begin to see the planned development in an all-at-once illustration as these drawing show. (See my earlier post about critics of the Seattle Waterfront Development Project.) Continue reading

Commercial Real Estate, Shopping Malls

Madison Marquette Buys Pacific Place For $271 Million Dollars

Pacific Place shopping center seattle

Pacific Place Shopping Center in Seattle, WA.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that Madison Marquette and some other investors have now purchased the Pacific Place shopping mall in Seattle for $271 Million — and, that’s likely to be a record price for a shopping center in Seattle!

Pacific Place apparently hosts over six million visitors yearly, and it is 90% leased. Their tenants include a number of upscale retailers such as Barney’s NY, Michael Kors, and Tiffany & Company, along with original tenants like Williams Sonoma, Helly Hansen, Il Fornaio and an AMC cinema.

The Puget Sound article reports:

“A Seattle company, Pine Street Group, teamed up with local investors, such as the Behnke and Howard S. Wright families, Howard Schultz of Starbucks, Gary Waterman and John McCaw, to develop the five-story mall in the late 1990s. It cost $175 million to build.”

By my back-of-the-napkin calculation, that makes the recent $271 million selling price come to a whopping 51% capital gains in about 16 years since it opened in 1998!

With recent examples like this, it appears that not only is the economy going strong, but Seattle’s Commercial Real Estate Sector is also extremely healthy right now.

Residential Real Estate

Puget Sound Rents Are On The Increase

The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that the regions rents are on the rise, while overall vacancy rates are staying at around 5% or lower. This is really great news for residential company owners and operators, since there had been leveling off of residential rental profits since right around the time of the Recession.

Rising Rents in Puget Sount Area

The combination of rising rents and lower vacancies also likely signals that there could be more investment coming in the building of new rental units and condos. We may see an expansion already starting to happen as demand is now strong enough to enable the building of more apartment buildings — the demand will derisk such investments.

Residential Real Estate

“Twin Peaks” Home For Sale

Laura Palmer, Twin PeaksI was amused to see a story in the Seattle PI that the home used as a setting for the Laura Palmer character in the fictional “Twin Peaks” show has come up for sale in Everett. (See: Live like Laura Palmer from ‘Twin Peaks’)

Twin Peaks was a fascinating TV show and film from the brilliant mind of director David Lynch, and it aired back in the early 1990s. My friends and I used to watch it back then – for a while, it was probably the trendiest show on TV, perhaps because of its kooky characters and beautiful settings that were meant to evoke the look and feel of Washington State — they often seemed to choose very rustic looking buildings constructed like log cabins, with the bark or barely-finished wood surfaces, heavier/primitive log furniture, and deer or elk antler light fixtures.

The Laura Palmer - Twin Peaks home in Everett, WA.

The Laura Palmer – Twin Peaks home in Everett, WA.

Looking back, this was the same time period when “Northern Exposure” TV series also first started and became even more popular than Twin Peaks. Northern Exposure also highlighted a similar design aesthetic — perhaps this was just the time when the elements unique to the American Northwest had their “15 minutes” of fame.

I’m more focused upon commercial real estate, but sometimes properties used in films and TV can be a little crossover between residential and commercial real estate. Homes that are rented out for photo or video shoots for TV and film can develop a degree of fame, just as though the real estate itself is a character in the shows. A good example of this would be Southfork Ranch, located in Parker, Texas, around 25 miles north of Dallas. Southfork is the famous and iconic home of the Ewings family in the popular television series, Dallas, that first aired in 1978. The house was featured very prominently in the opening credits, although it was only rarely used as a set during filming of the show’s episodes. Having appeared upon the popular show likely changed the future of Southfork Ranch, which was otherwise a fairly unremarkable property in Texas — having become famous, the house is no longer a residential property, but became a fully commercial property — it’s now an event and conference center (and there’s a museum dedicated to the TV shows on the property, too).

When a home appears in a popular TV show or film, the association can enhance its value, as in the case of Southfork.

However, in the case of the “Laura Palmer” Twin Peaks home in Everett, Continue reading