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December 13, 2012

Real Estate Surveys: Clise Properties

Specialty: Building ownership, development and management

Management: Al Clise, chairman and CEO; Robert Stevenson, president and COO

Founded: 1889

Headquarters: Seattle

Current projects: Under contract to sell Amazon.com three blocks in the Denny Triangle (for construction of 3.3 million square feet of office space); 2020 Fifth Ave. data center

Image from Seattle DPD [enlarge]
Amazon is planning 3.3 million square feet in several buildings on land in the Denny Triangle it is buying from Clise.

Robert Stevenson, president and chief operating officer of Clise Properties, responded to questions by the DJC about the firm’s plans in the wake of its big land sale to Amazon.com.

Q. What does Clise plan to do with the revenue from its sale to Amazon?

Stevenson: We plan to redeploy the capital to expand our real estate holdings and grow the company. We also plan to continue to invest in our data center business, which is the Westin Building and the Westin Building Exchange.

Q. How well have Amazon’s plans fit in with Clise’s vision for its Denny Triangle properties?

Stevenson: Our vision was really pulling together the assemblage for a planned development, and it could not have turned out better with Amazon. I say that because Amazon is of local origins and so is the Clise family, which began acquiring the land in the 1930s. To have the land used in a planned development with multiple high-rise buildings that will relate to each other will be a great outcome for the Clise family and Seattle.

Q. Where will Clise direct its focus in the coming year?

Stevenson: We are open to increasing our out-of-town holdings, although there is a lot to be said for our region these days — with Boeing 737 and tanker lines opening, Amazon and all the new tech companies in the area, it’s a good story.

Q. What opportunities and pitfalls do you see in the Seattle-area real estate market?

Stevenson: Some people say residential is going to be overbuilt; my view is you can never have too much housing in a dense urban environment that is well served by public transportation. If it’s overbuilt it just means prices go down, which is good for people living there and good for Seattle. It will just be another real estate cycle.

Q. What trends are you seeing in your downtown Seattle leasing activity?

Stevenson: There has been a major paradigm shift in that really for the first time technology companies are now embracing the world’s fastest, safest, greenest form of public transportation: the high-rise elevator.

This young, well-educated workforce wants to live and work in the city. Having a Seattle location for these companies will have a very positive effect on recruiting. My prediction is that we will continue to see this part of the market expand.

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