|Seattle office central|
The Slog's headline - a sorta invitation for Wal-Mart to shack up in Seattle - was just snark, but the post's content was worth some attention: Abruptly, there's a whole lot of empty office space in Seattle.
The Slog: "As the [Daily Journal of Commerce] reports today, owners of the 12-story 1st and Stewart Building are placing the property up for sale at the same time two new downtown office buildings are staking real-estate signs. In addition, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Building and Seattle Tower were recently put on the market. Meanwhile, other office buildings, like the WaMu Center, are clearing out their tenants. Companies that had planned to expand into new downtown spaces, including Microsoft and Starbucks, are retreating to their headquarters. And more lanky office towers are in the works downtown. In short, the inventory of commercial office space grossly exceeds the demand for offices. We’ve probably got 10 years of inventory that will sit empty."
A cautionary note: There are some apples and oranges here; some of these buildings (like the 1st and Stewart) are pretty well leased up, and sale of the building won't change that. Still, the vacancies in many large-scale office spaces are becoming massive.
Where is all that likely to lead? On its face, it seems to suggest some whole new direction for the downtown Seattle area, which has upscaled and gentrified almost to the point (in some places) of unrecognizability in recent years. How can that continue when the area is floating in "For Lease" signs all over the place?
The effort will be made. Or will Seattle return, a bit, to elements of its grungier past?