Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hard Rock Cafe New Years Eve Update - Opening Feb 2010

The Hard Rock operations crew was in town this week to snap some photos for their Seattle Facebook Fan Page - you can check them out here: Hard Rock Cafe Seattle Facebook Fan Page

The fan page went up yesterday, and within one hour they already had 100 followers...pretty amazing. I've attached two i-phone shots from a tour yesterday to this post - one is of the 2nd floor stage, and the other is a shot of the kitchen line.

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Based on the photos, you can see they are working quickly to ensure a February 2010 opening date.

Have a safe and happy New Years Eve.

- Urban Visions

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tenant Highlight: Jackstraw @ The Colonial Grand Pacific Building

Jack Straw Filaments, an Urban Visions' tenant at The Colonial Grand Pacific Building, is a high-end men's clothing store located on First Avenue between Spring and Seneca Street.

Since its opening in September of last year, owners John Richards and Paola Medina have effectively distinguished Jack Straw Filaments as one of Seattle’s most innovative and exciting men’s clothing stores. Featuring designers such as Issey Miyake, Gilded Age, and Comme de Garcon, the boutique appeals to Seattle’s more fashion-conscious men who appreciate classic, well-made clothing. The store will begin to feature women's wear in 2010.

The store itself is immaculately decorated and is often described as a sort of sanctuary for shoppers. With imaginative window displays, inviting leather chairs and rustic brick walls, Jack Straw is a refreshing anomaly amongst today’s more pervasive and impersonal department stores.

Go experience the world of Jack Straw for yourself! Beginning January 2nd, the boutique’s “It’s Snowing Sale” will be featuring 40-50% off all Fall Clothing, and 75% off selected items!

Jack Straw Filaments is open Monday-Saturday 11-6, and Sunday 12-5.

- Ashley Smith

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Hard Rock Cafe Construction Update

Construction continues at The Liberty Building, Hardrock Cafe's new Seattle location along Pike Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue. The opening is now slated for early 2010 . Here is an update straight from their website:

"Hard Rock Cafe Seattle is scheduled for sometime in early 2010. Please keep checking back with us. We'll keep you updated as we know more. We can assure you, though, that once the Cafe does open, it is going to be amazing and well worth the wait. Thanks for being fans. We'll see you in Seattle very soon."

For more information, check out

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Video Tours Added to Site

We released several new video tours of available spaces this week - they are located on the right hand side of the blog, and will also be featured on our new website when it launches in January of 2010( Note that is also an additional address we created last month for our blog (easier to remember).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

WSDOT pays developer Urban Visions for SODO land

Seattle, WA, November 25, 2009 – The Washington State Department of Transportation paid two Urban Visions' LLCs for 3.98 acres of land it needs for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project. The land consists of 2 parcels located at the Northwest corner of First Avenue South and South Royal Brougham Way. The sale price equates to $258 per square foot.

Greg Smith, owner and CEO of Urban Visions, bought the land in 1999 with plans to develop the site into a one million SF sustainable mixed-used project. The state began leasing the land from Smith two years ago. WSDOT also purchased another 3.8 acre parcel of land from Smith in 2007, due west of the land it just purchased. He purchased the property ten years ago for $10.25 million.

The site will be used for part of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall replacement program.

For more information please refer to the DJC article here.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Smith Announces New Plans for 2nd & Pike Parcel

Urban Visions has announced plans to develop a 35-story LEED-certified apartment tower on the corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street. The 340-unit apartment project is being designed by Tom Kundig of Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects and will feature a destination “Sky Bar” and restaurant overlooking Pike Place Market. According to Urban Visions CEO and owner Greg Smith, the tower is being designed with the “creative-class urban worker” in mind and “will be a place that people want to hang out.”

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In addition to the “Sky Bar,” amenities will include a pet walk, tenant lounge, workout facility, wine lockers, bike storage, and underground parking. Apartments will be on the smaller side, with mostly studios and one-bedrooms averaging around 920 square feet. “I think given the economic environment looking forward, larger units of the past will be less desirable based on their total cost to rent,” said Smith. “Smaller, well-designed efficient units will be in large demand.”

Urban Visions had announced plans in 2007 to develop a Candela Hotel/condo complex on the site, which is currently a parking lot. Given the current economic environment, however, the firm has opted against working with Candela Hotel. Smith believes apartments will be the first market to bounce back post-recession. As of now, no construction date or contractor have been set.

- Ashley Smith

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nissan Leaf Kick-Off in LA

Nissan recently fired up a 22 city tour to showcase the Nissan Leaf, a new EV set to hit markets around the country next year. Why is this relevant for Seattle?
Seattle was selected as one of the first markets to recieve this vehicle; funding from the Obama administration will help install charging infrastructure throughout the city to help support the EVs growth.
Watch the video below for highlights from the 1st kick off event in Los Angeles.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Link Light Rail & SR519 Updates

Two updates on important transportation infrastructure projects and improvements in our region:

1) SR 519

Construction continues on this project near the Stadiums. The intent, as described by WSDOT:

"improving connections for traffic heading to the Port of Seattle terminals, Colman Dock ferry terminal, central waterfront area and sports stadiums and destinations in Seattle's SODO neighborhood. SR 519 improvements will separate car, freight, pedestrian and rail traffic to help improve mobility, pedestrian safety and reduce the risk of collisions. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by June 2010, in time for the start of construction to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct between S Holgate and S King streets."

Project completion is slated for June 2010. For more information please click here.

2) Link Light Rail Line - Seattle to SeaTac

On December 19th, riders of the Link Light Rail will be able to commute from downtown Seattle all the way to SeaTac Airport. Sound Transit set the 2009 opening date so that service would be up and running before traffic for the 2010 Olympics hit Seattle - an estimated 250,000 people are expected to visit Vancouver during the event, and many will fly into our region before commuting North.
Sound Transit estimates 3,000 riders will board the SeaTac Airport Station each day by 2020, reducing congestion along I5 and other major transportation corridors.
The other benefit is of course that those who need to catch a flight may now board the train downtown during rush hour and still make it to the airport station in roughly 36 minutes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Expedia Tower Ready To Sell For $400 PSF

Expedia Tower, a Class A + building located in the Bellevue CBD at 108th Ave NE and NE 4th Street, is set to sell for $166,000,000 or roughly $400 PSF. Tenants of the 415,000 SF building include Expedia (approximately 80% of the building), Pokemon, Nortel Networks, and Core Bank. The buyer of the 20 story structure is HRPT, a REIT which owns around 66 million square feet of office and industrial property throughout the US. Bellevue Corporate Plaza, for example, is one of HRPT's local assetts.
Expedia Tower is LEED Gold, 97% occupied, and has about 1,000 parking stalls onsite. Construction on this building finished in 2008 and was developed by a partnership which included Houston-based Hines.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Sea Level Rise Display @ the Olympic Sculpture Park

SAM recently had a simple yet powerful display in place at the Olympic Sculpture Park; the goal was to demonstrate the effects of climate change on sea levels.

The blue line, as shown in the first picture, demonstrates the current high tide line. The red line, shown in picture two, simulates the high tide line if sea levels rise by one meter.

What you can't tell from these photographs is that the red line is 20 horizontal feet inland from the blue line. In other words, if sea levels rise by one meter, we lose a good chunk of the sculpture park to the ocean. Researchers point out that Seattle's slopes are quite steep compared to other parts of the world - in Seattle's Indonesian sister city for example, more gradual topography at sea level means much harsher flooding than what was shown in this example.

Note that many experts predict a one meter rise in sea level could occur as early as 2100.

Source: For more information on the exhibit, please click here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Alaskan Way Viaduct Collapse Simulation

A potential collapse of the Viaduct and Seawall is depicted in the below WSDOT video. Originally, WSDOT deemed this simulation 'unnecessarily frightening' and opted to withhold it from public release. A public disclosure request made last month has brought the video onto WSDOT's YouTube channel, and other media sources.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stadium Auto Center - Seattle's Green Auto Row

We hired a photographer to snap some aerial shots of our Stadium Auto Center site - below is one of the photos with the site outlined in blue. The idea behind Stadium Auto Center is to embrace the green car movement while leveraging BMW of Seattle's new $40,000,000 investment to the East. Given the site's exposure, proximity to the city, and easy access to all major modes of transportation, we are receiving an incredible amount of interest from the automotive industry. Expect some exciting announcements in the future as this concept evolves. For more information, please feel free to contact us direct at (206) 262-2880.

From Urban Visions Projects

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Look at Urban Rooftop Farming

A very cool look at Urban Rooftop Farming - in this example, underutilized rooftop space becomes home to local organic farmers who then deliver the produce via bicycles to nearby restaurants. Many possibilities with this concept, especially in Seattle with the glut of industrial rooftops the city looks over to the South.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Financial Benefits of LEED (Part 1)

A recent study conducted by national real estate research firm, Costar, re-examines the financial benefits of going green. By utilizing a powerhouse of national data, they are able to analyze several relationships between the real estate market and green buildings. Specifically, they look at Energy Star and LEED certified structures.

The findings are not necessarily surprising from a qualitative standpoint - most people have recognized, by now, that green buildings provide value. They do introduce some new data into this study however by quantifying several relationships.

We are going to outline some of the more interesting data most recently available in a two part post. Part 1 is below:

Occupancy Rates of Energy Star Properties vs. Energy Star peers

-2005 1q: Energy Star = 86.2% ; Peers = 85.9% (difference of 0.30%)

-2007 1q: Energy Star = 90.20%; Peers = 88.40% (difference of 1.80%)

-2009 1q: Energy Star = 89.40% ; Peers = 86.9% (difference of 2.50%)

Direct Rental Rates of Energy Star Properties vs. Energy Star peers

-2005 1q: Energy Star = $26.16 ; peers = $23.84 (difference of $2.32)

-2007 1q: Energy Star = $28.65 ; peers = $24.85 (difference of $3.80)

-2009 1q: Energy Star = $30.71 ; peers = $25.97 (difference of $4.73)

Occupancy Rates of LEED properties vs. LEED peers

-2005 1q: LEED = 94.6% ; peers = 86.41% (difference of 8.2%)

-2007 1q: LEED = 89.20% ; peers = 87.59% (difference of 1.6%)

-2009 1q: LEED = 90.03% ; peers = 84.66% (difference of 5.4%)

Direct Rental Rates of LEED properties vs. LEED peers

-2005 1q: LEED = $30.57 ; peers = $27.37 (difference of $3.21)

-2007 1q: LEED = $45.65 ; peers = $28.82 (difference of $16.84)

-2009 1q: LEED = $38.86 ; peers = $29.80 (difference of $9.06)

*Costar’s study reports have been confirmed by multiple studies with similar results.

Top 10 Metropolitan Areas for Green Buildings

1) Los Angeles (100 buildings; 26,167,038 SF; 13.3%)

2) Houston (46 buildings; 21,101,378 SF; 10.8%)

3) Washington DC (61 buildings; 19,796,646 SF; 10.1%)

4) New York City (11 buildings; 12,328,784 SF; 6.3%)

5) San Francisco (30 buildings; 11,862,367 SF; 6.0%)

6) Minneapolis/St. Paul (20 buildings; 11,381,738 SF; 5.8%)

7) Denver (34 buildings; 10,285,745 SF; 5.2%)

8) Seattle/Puget Sound (16 buildings; 7,616,710 SF; 3.9%)

9) Chicago (13 buildings; 6,326,489 SF; 3.2%)

10) Dallas/Ft Worth (20 buildings; 6,058,892 SF; 3.1%)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Viaduct - Tunnel Boring Machine Animation

The DJC has an interesting video from WSDOT this morning highlighting how the tunnel boring machine will look and work.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

WAMU Center sold for $115,000,000

Hot off the press - Eric Pryne with the Seattle Times reports that WAMU Center sold for $115,000,000. Compare this to the $300,000,000 assessed value of the building, (which likely cost much more than that to build) and its clear that Russell (owned by Northwestern Mutual) just secured a very nice deal! Note that this works out to approximately $133 PSF.

Read More On The Transaction Here

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Russell Moving to Seattle

Huge news announced this morning - Russell Investments is moving to Seattle. As rumored, Northwestern Mutual Life will purchase the building for an undisclosed amount, and Russell will begin moving in 2010.

Russell Investments manages over $151 Billion in assets, and is famous for its Russell indexes, a collection of global equity indices. Approximately 900 Russell employees are currently headquartered in Tacoma.

The tower, once known as WAMU Center and more recently as Chase Renter, will be renamed to Russell Investments Center.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hard Rock Cafe - Las Vegas

Hard Rock Cafe opened its latest and greatest venture in Las Vegas this weekend, Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas. Though roughly 3 times bigger than the forthcoming Seattle location, the two will allegedly share many similarities in terms of technology and finishes.

Click Here to Watch a News Clip of the Grand Opening on Fox 5 Vegas.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

WAMU Tower Ready to Trade?

There are a lot of whispers floating around lately regarding the future of Russell Investments (currently based out of Tacoma, WA). Related to this are rumors regarding the future of Chase Center (formerly WAMU Center).

The Seattle Times summarized the relationship between these two hot topics this morning in an article titled "Russell narrows headquarters search to two sites in Tacoma and Seattle".

Russell has narrowed its search down to two locations; Seattle's Chase Center, or a new Tacoma sky scraper proposed by German billionaire Erivan Haub.

Another related whisper on the street has been that Northwestern Mutual may purchase Chase Center (and probably at a very low basis given market conditions and terms of JP Morgan's initial acquisition) - as Northwestern Mutual acquired Russell back in 1999, one can logically deduce that they would place Russell into Chase Center.

Whichever you believe, we will know more by the end of September; this is reportedly when Russell shall make the big announcement.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Seattle Tops List for Sustainable Cities over 250,000

A list of Sustainable Cities put together by the Natural Resources Defense Council places Seattle at #1 - San Francisco and Portland placed a respective 2nd and 3rd place. Seattle topped the lists in terms of its Green Building, Air Quality, and Energy Production & Conservation. It also placed top 10 in several other categories.

The article points out that "congestion remains a problem for Seattle, but the city is finishing a light rail system to link its downtown core to SeaTac airport, scheduled for completion by the end of 2009".

To read the entire article, click here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Setting the Record Straight on the Viaduct Replacement Project


Dear Chamber Members:

As the primary campaign heats up, we're hearing more and more rhetoric about the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project. In particular, two candidates, Mike McGinn and Mike O'Brien, are attempting to make the Tunnel+Transit solution a campaign issue.

While we respect that there are many different components to a campaign, this is an issue the Chamber has invested considerable time and energy on. It's important to set the record straight for all candidates and voters so we can move on and avoid another prolonged period of conflict and impasse.


In opposing the Tunnel+Transit solution, a couple of candidates are getting their basic math wrong. The fact of the matter is, the tunnel portion of the project costs $1.9 billion, and state funding to the tune of $2.4 billion has already been allocated to cover it--that's codified in state law

The stark reality is that with the 'surface option,' advocated by McGinn and O'Brien, the costs to local taxpayers would have actually gone up, not down. State legislators have already said they would provide *less than half of their current financial commitment* under this scenario. And instead of getting a world-class waterfront which our citizens can enjoy, the surface option would have given us a super-sized parking lot for cars and trucks on the waterfront, downtown and I-5. Indeed, an independent consultant retained by the city of Seattle concluded that the surface plan would have undermined the livability of downtown and its pedestrian feel by choking up city streets. Our citizens deserve better.


I'm proud of the central role the Greater Seattle Chamber played in the stakeholder process and negotiations that led to a Tunnel+Transit compromise. Every stakeholder gave something up to support the solution, but in the end stakeholders reached something not achieved during the eight years since the Viaduct was shaken by the Nisqually quake: *a broad-based consensus about a positive path forward*. Our Mayor, County Executive and Governor rallied around this consensus decision, and the state legislature subsequently ratified the


And this solution is endorsed by over 100 individuals, elected officials and organizations, from AAA to Allied Arts of Seattle, from Anderson Hay & Grain in Ellensburg to the King County Labor Council, Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, People for Puget Sound, the Pike Place Market PDA and the Seattle Parks Foundation. Support spans across the state from Spokane and Wenatchee to the industrial and manufacturing zones around the Port of Seattle and up and down the I-5 corridor.

The Tunnel+Transit solution preserves capacity for freight and commerce, increases transit and creates a pedestrian and bike-friendly waterfront, reduces air and water pollution and improves the quality of the Puget Sound. It avoids the enormous potential negative impact of viaduct-related construction activity on the regional and state economy, ensures public safety, creates thousands of jobs when we need them most, and assures long-term business growth by providing the needed transportation mobility for small, medium and large businesses

in the city and region. Most importantly, this solution puts to rest a project that has been plagued by expensive political deadlock and delay for too long.

Instead of generating more controversy and inaction, let's pull together to move our region forward with the needed infrastructure and transit that will keep our economy strong and create a waterfront that generations can enjoy for years to come.


Tayloe Washburn

Chair, Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce