Seattle Centric: Job Growth, Vacancy Rates, and…Big Bertha!

Spring is upon us, and changes are afoot in downtown Seattle–in fact, we have a visitor in town to help us with those changes. That’s right, Big Bertha arrived today! She’s a world-record-breaking tunnel drilling machine, sent over from Japan just to help our engineers drill the new Highway 99 tunnels. Want to check it out? The Seattle Times has the lowdown on where you can see the machine for yourself. But for now, enjoy the rental real estate news roundup we’ve put together for you once again–welcome back to Seattle Centric.

Seattle CentricSeattle PI: Job growth strong, vacancies low within the city

Remember back in February of 2010, when the unemployment rate bottomed out? The Seattle PI has the numbers on where we’ve gotten to since then–and the news is good. According to Apartment Insights, over 100,000 jobs have been added within the Seattle area; that’s 82.3% of the jobs lost over the course of the recession.

ID-10037845 (1)Jobs are one piece of the puzzle; vacancies are another. Currently, vacancy is at 3.8% in the Puget Sound area–that’s down from 4.7% last March. And in Seattle, the market is even tighter, with vacancy at just 2.9% (down from 3.1 last year). These numbers don’t include vacant apartments that are in lease-up or under construction; as new units open, we’ll keep an eye on the vacancy numbers and see how they do. Read more.

Bizjounal: Vulcan likely to come up short in South Lake Union re-zoning

South Lake Union SkylineWe’ve been hearing for awhile now about Vulcan’s proposed plans for towers up to 240 feet tall in South Lake Union; on Monday, the Seattle City Council members indicated their votes may not end up allowing that scenario. Instead, the three towers planned for the Mercer blocks would only be allowed to top out at 160 feet.

Meanwhile, over at 400 Fairview Ave N., Skanska USA would have better luck, due to the Mayor’s proposal to raise height restrictions in that part of the neighborhood to 240 feet. Oh, those South Lake Union politics! Two votes are ahead of the Council on these rezoning issues: The first is on April 22nd, and the next will follow at the beginning of May. Read more.

DJC: For urban living, it’s all about…Bellevue?

If you’re all about Seattle, you may not have noticed the following, but Lisa Picard of Skanska USA certainly did: Between 2008 and 2011, downtown employment in Bellevue jumped more than threefold, from 12,000 to 44,000. This increase, largely driven by Microsoft, has revitalized interest in downtown Bellevue as an urban center–and apartment market vacancies are now at just 3.1%, only a couple of points higher than Seattle’s.

Bellevue, Washington

According to Picard, Bellevue’s reinvention as the area’s “second urban center” is driving a collaborative new economy in the city. “Urban areas have become playgrounds for the human experience…this is not only changing where developers supply housing, but how we do it.” While much of Bellevue’s current apartment stock is comprised of condos for rent, the future will be about flexible spaces that allow renters to “customize their own social experiences.” Read more.

My Northwest: Seattle once again among top cities for college grads

158354481With June just a few months away, it’s time for all those plucky, soon-to-be college graduates to choose their own adventure and decide where they’ll begin life as a true adult. To help them out with that choice, has released their annual list of the 25 top markets for college graduates, factoring in the cost of living, the average annual salary, and the unemployment rate.

Once again, Seattle made the elite top ten with a mean annual income of $54,800 and a median one-bedroom apartment price of $1,300. Other cities keeping us company in the top ten included Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Raleigh, and Washington D.C. Choose wisely, grads! Read more.


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