Skyscrapers Rise Again in Seattle, But Who'll Work in Them?

Seattle developers are moving ahead with plans for three new downtown office towers - the first in 20 years - despite abundant vacant space in the area. Much sought-after tech tenants will be a tough lure because “[t]hey like weird buildings.”
August 23, 2013, 8am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Among the challenges facing the developers of the first three office towers to rise in Seattle's central business district in twenty years: "many traditional downtown tenants are getting by with less space due to technology and slower growth, while the tech firms that have driven Seattle’s office boom haven’t shown much affinity for the central business district," writes Sanjay Bhatt. 

"New skyscrapers will have to justify their higher rents with smart design, super-efficient floors and killer amenities, experts say, because of abundant space in the business district."

"Tech firms are high on the list of sought-after tenants, given their heavyweight presence in the Seattle area," he adds. But these firms haven’t been attracted to downtown’s towers — with some notable exceptions."

"[Chad] Yoshinobu, the design director at Gensler’s Seattle office, says the typical tech firm finds it more attractive and sustainable to reuse existing space that is 'hackable,' especially older low- and mid-rise buildings with big floors, character and high ceilings."

"But Matt Christian, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield/Commerce, says that in markets across the nation, tech companies are moving downtown because of the easy access to transportation hubs and amenities."

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Published on Saturday, August 17, 2013 in The Seattle Times
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