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June 23, 2016

Re-energizing an old power plant site on Lake Washington

  • Seco Development’s Southport will have a mix of offices, apartments, restaurants, shops and a hotel.
  • By GREG KRAPE
    Seco Development

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    Krape

    With the amount of development our region is experiencing, it’s no surprise that the Seattle and Bellevue central business districts are absorbing many of these projects. Newer urban villages like South Lake Union, Bellevue’s Spring District and Redmond’s Overlake Village are also seeing explosive growth.

    You may be surprised to learn that a new mixed-use urban village — a true destination environment creating a unique sense of place — is rising in an unexpected location.

    The vision began to take shape 20 years ago. Where many saw an antiquated power plant, Seco Development envisioned a thriving neighborhood on the shores of Lake Washington. When Seco learned the land was going to be available from Puget Sound Energy, it set in motion what would soon become the defining moment of this vision.

    In November 1999, Seco acquired the 17-acre Shuffleton power plant adjacent to the 57-acre Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park in Renton. Seco then began creating an urban village that fosters a live, work, play and stay environment.

    The Southport vision

    Image from Seco Development [enlarge]
    Southport is on the south shore of the lake, adjacent to Gene Coulon Park in Renton.

    Every detail that went into planning Southport on Lake Washington was with the intent of promoting a balanced lifestyle. Although centrally located near interstates 405, 90 and 5, Southport should leave residents, employees and visitors feeling like they are a world away.

    As you stroll the neighborhood, it feels as though you are in the middle of nature yet surrounded by all of the necessary amenities. Southport allows you to step out the front door and go kayaking, relax in the park, take a ride on the regional bike trail, or play tennis or beach volleyball.

    From the beginning, Seco envisioned Southport as a technology center with upscale office buildings, residential units, a hotel and retailers. Amazon.com even considered Southport for its corporate campus in the early 2000s to meet its growing space needs.

    Seco’s commitment to this initial vision for Southport remains unwavering. Today, Southport has 383 luxury apartments and will open a new hotel in June 2017, followed by three office towers in May 2018.

    Build and they will come

    Unexpectedly, the residential portion came first. Started just as the dot-com bubble burst, the 188-unit Bristol I apartment building marked the official arrival of Southport in 2002. It was a roll of the dice, but the gamble paid off.

    Strong demand for the Bristol’s waterfront location positioned the second residential phase — the 195-unit Bristol II — to open its doors in 2008. Just two football fields away from The Landing’s 800,000 square feet of retail and more than 20 restaurants and entertainment venues, these nearby amenities played a crucial role in the success of Southport’s residential component.

    Southport attained a new milestone with the October 2014 hotel groundbreaking. Unknown to Seco, Hyatt Hotels spent nearly 15 years searching for a site that was central to Sea-Tac Airport but also unique. Last fall, Hyatt signed on to operate this hotel as the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport.

    Green spaces will be planted between buildings.

    Southport will have three office buildings along Lake Washington.

    When it opens next June, the 12-story, 347-room luxury waterfront hotel will be the first in Seattle to have fiber Internet in all guest rooms, as well as virtual reality and augmented reality compatible convention facilities. It will also have a full-service restaurant, spa, indoor and outdoor exercise facilities, VIP lounge, and more than 43,000 square feet of meeting space.

    Visitors will have views of downtown Seattle, the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier and Lake Washington.

    Workplace of the future

    While early concepts had the office towers coming online first, this turned out to be the final phase.

    Seco broke ground in January on the Southport Office Campus, one of the region’s largest office projects under construction. The three nine-story towers with nearly 730,000 square feet of Class A waterfront office space will be LEED-certified and serve as a hub for high-tech firms and other innovative companies seeking creative work environments.

    These companies’ next generation workforces are seeking more than just a place to work. Culture is by far the biggest draw in terms of recruiting and retaining top talent. In fact, company culture outranks corporate brand and salary in studies. This is even more important in our region where competition for top talent is especially challenging.

    High-performance teams require an environment that promotes teamwork, innovation and collaboration in an idyllic, desirable setting — with cutting-edge systems and infrastructure. The corporate campus will have a fiber optic network with up to 100 gigabyte data speeds, as well as a redundant power grid. These capabilities ensure future tenants have every advantage at their disposal.

    The experience of the future office’s employees, customers, clients and guests received painstaking consideration. For example, the three entry floors create a majestic open space that extends outside. A large living room with an enormous glass window opens up into the public plaza outside. In addition, there are several places where conference rooms open to the outside.

    Renton is rising too

    Southport has become a catalyst for economic vitality in the city of Renton, spurring additional development in the vicinity, including a new Residence Inn by Marriott and Hampton Inn by Hilton.

    Construction of the hotel and office projects has resulted in nearly 6,000 new jobs. The future Hyatt Regency hotel and office campus employees will provide a lasting economic impact, while also generating demand for services, tourism and convention business. In addition, six carefully selected restaurants — three of which will be open by next June — will draw visitors from across the region.

    With an estimated value of approximately $1 billion when fully occupied, Southport is poised to become a significant waterfront showpiece for the city following its successful transformation from an old power plant into a mixed-use office, hotel, residential and retail destination.

    When the office campus opens its doors in May 2018 — after more than two decades of planning, patience and perseverance — the Southport vision will finally become a reality.


    Greg Krape is president of Seco Development, which has been recognized as one of most successful mixed-use development companies in the Puget Sound region with over 35 years as a significant landowner in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland and Renton.





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