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May 2, 2013

Survey: Express Construction Co.

Image courtesy of Tiscareno Associates [enlarge]
Express is building the 177-unit Legacy Town Square apartment in downtown Redmond.

Specialty: Ground-up construction of multifamily, retail and senior housing; office tenant improvements

Management: Grant Larsen, president; Greg Tozer, director of operations; Chuck Clegern, director of special projects

Founded: 1994

Headquarters: Bellevue

Current project: 177-unit Legacy Town Square

Express Construction works on all types of projects, from individual stores to apartment buildings to office spaces. The company also specializes in building assisted-living facilities. Express President Grant Larsen sees strong demand in the region, specifically Bellevue, for apartments. He talked about the strength of the construction industry in the region and what office tenants are looking for in new spaces.

Q: Is there overbuilding in the apartment market?

A: There are certain areas that seem to be getting overbuilt right now. In Ballard we have seen a lot of tower cranes coming out of the ground, and there is quite a number of units coming on line. In the University District, the University of Washington is adding a lot of student housing. They definitely need places for students to live as they didn’t have a lot of product of that type available. You’ve got a lot going on in South Lake Union being driven by Vulcan and Amazon. You don’t see a whole lot going on in the Bellevue area; there’s a few things going on in Redmond. I look around here in Bellevue and it’s just amazing how leased up these apartments are. They are all pretty close to 100 percent leased up, I’m told.

Q: What are office tenants looking for?

A: We are seeing a lot of companies moving out of their existing spaces into newer ones due to staffing changes, whether it be increased or decreased levels. You see a lot more people willing to move around, where as the last four years it wasn’t like that. Technology companies like a lot of open space and meeting spaces so they can do a lot of group collaboration. Attorneys typically have a lot of hard offices as opposed to open floor plans.

Q: Which sectors are the strongest and which are stumbling?

A: Retail is still kind of having a tough go of it. The senior housing stuff, we are seeing a lot of that. We are seeing a lot of apartments being built. There’s all sorts of initiatives with renovations of existing facilities and upgrades. Senior housing projects built 20 years ago are needing to get cleaned up and rebuilt.

Q: How is your workload compared with previous years?

A: This year we have seen things settle down and firm up. Financing seems to be a little more available to developers. They are actively looking for projects to get going. It certainly is better than the last four years.

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