Specialty: Retail brokerage
Among real estate experts, the general consensus is that retail was among the hottest sectors in recent years.
To some extent that’s true, but not entirely. Big-box retail and grocery-anchored centers remained strong, but downtown retail was “hit pretty hard” after 9/11, said Maria Royer of Blatteis Realty.
The good news for retail landlords and developers is this slowdown looks to be over. “We are just starting to see the pace pick up significantly downtown,” said Royer, who noted 60 percent of the market is tied to tourism. Her schedule and the schedules of her colleagues reflect that.
“We are so busy.”
Royer said retail will likely continue thriving as part of the myriad mixed-use projects, especially urban infill ones. Blatteis, for instance, just picked up the assignments to lease three Seattle projects that Royer said will be announced after the first of the year.
Two factors — the increasing cost of land and baby boomers’ demand for simplicity — are fueling the denser developments, according to Royer.
Particularly popular will be mixed-use urban centers. It seems like every suburb in the region has one of these under construction or in the planning phase. Expect the trend to spread.
“Regionally, I think we are going to see that up and down the I-5 corridor,” said Royer, who is in charge of leasing one of the area’s largest such projects: Kent Station, which Seattle developer Tarragon is undertaking.
Construction has begun on the first phase, which measures 210,000 square feet, and “we are 77 percent committed,” said Royer, who added second phase leasing is going well, too.
“It will open less than a year after phase one opens. We’ve got signed letter of intent for 50 percent of phase two.” She said to expect tenant announcements before the end of the year.
In addition to Kent Station, Blatteis recently was awarded the retail leasing assignment for Port Blakely’s Issaquah Highlands. The retail is being phased and will begin with an 18,000-square-foot neighborhood retail building. So far, the project has five leases out for signature.
Issaquah Highlands retail could grow to 600,000 square feet, though Royer said up to 450,000 square feet is a more reasonable expectation.
“The vision is to bring the urban experience to the suburban area,” Royer said, adding Blatteis and Port Blakely hand picked urban retailers and took them to Issaquah. “They have been absolutely amazed,” she said. “They get it.”
The bottom line, she said, is “it’s a good time to be a retail broker, adviser and consultant.”
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