With a frigid and snow-covered end to 2021, it is only fair for Seattle Commercial Real Estate to look forward to a change in weather and commercial real estate prospects for the new year. The first bright spot started with the election of a new Mayor, Prosecuting Attorney, and a couple of City Council positions in the fall election cycle. The cloud on this ray of sunshine was the failure of the recall election of Kshama Sawant, a declared Socialist member of the City Council. The message of the general electorate was clear, as were the implications of failure to remove Sawant from her district in Central Seattle, the home of rising crime and the Summer of Love. It is the time for collaboration and cooperation.
The lifeblood of Seattle is the Central Business District of downtown (CBD). This is the home to millions of square feet of offices with familiar names like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Weyerhaeuser, etc. Compared with 2020, 29% of workers returned to downtown offices, but functionally, the problem is comparing this number to pre-Covid 2019. This area accounts for only 90,000 residents, but it generates 65% of the tax revenue for the entire city. Behind this change will follow support services and new growth in retail and related commercial real estate.
This all came into clear focus when Seattle Commercial Real Estate was retained by a Silicon Valley based company to find office space. Their goal is to triple their employee base in the CBD. Since they will be interviewing to expand their employee base and will require parking, the issue of safety defined a narrow corridor in which to create a unique office environment conducive to enticing employment and addressing the issue of safety. This is reality, not theory.
The question for Seattle commercial real estate is how long it will take to rekindle the spirit which has characterized the history of Seattle.