SEATTLE - Downtown Seattle is home to more than 20 construction cranes, many of them in the south Lake Union area, now considered perhaps the hottest commercial real estate market in the Northwest.
What was once a sleepy neighborhood of low rise light industrial and residential buildings has become headquarters to Amazon, bio-tech and expensive apartments. Many of the older buildings that remain are plastered with notices of “proposed land use action.” Those signal another building is in the permitting phase, many six stories with hundreds of parking stalls.
According to the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, building permits already issued for the first five months of this year are above any year since 200. And they’re on track to top 7,700 for work totaling a projected $3.75 billion, much of that commercial. The city says it’s too soon to tell of the year will become a record.
But it’s not just Seattle seeing the benefits. Shoreline is home to another big road project on Aurora Avenue. And in Issaquah both residential and commercial construction continues on the Issaquah Highlands. And they’re expected to break ground on new eight -story commercial and apartment buildings on the valley floor along I-90 and East Lake Sammamish Boulevard within the next 30 to 60 days, part of the city’s plan to concentrate development in centers and protect the current neighborhoods and environment.
It is all turning into jobs. The Washington State Dept. of employment security saying about a third of the 35,000 construction jobs in just King and Snohomish counties lost during the recession have been recovered. The department’s regional labor economist Anneliese Vance-Sherman says construction job growth between April of 2013 and April of 2014 has grown at a rate of 7.7%, more than double the hiring rate in the broader economy.