Seattle Commercial Real Estate News of the Day

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Seattle Times Daily Journal of Commerce Headline
Finally, some momentum on Washington state job creation Real Estate Buzz: Indoor skydiving comes to Tukwila
State’s job outlook brighter for college graduates Tukwila Mayor Jim Haggerton got the attention of a business group last week when he announced there’s a high-rise under construction in Southcenter.

It’s true, but not in the way you might think.

The building Haggerton was talking about is a red steel-frame structure that will be just under 70 feet tall. It’s for iFly, an entertainment business that lets people “sky dive” indoors in a vertical wind tunnel.

Fans at the top of the flight chamber produce “wall-to-wall airflow that is smooth and fun to fly in,” according to the iFly website. The website also says the experience is not a ride or a simulator but “actually flying.”

You don’t need skydiving experience. The business has instructors, and the air flow is “totally controllable.”

An indoor skydiving business called iFly is set to open in August.

iFly is going into a strip mall at 349 Tukwila Parkway. Part of the mall was demolished to make way for the new business, according to Tukwila Senior Planner Brandon Miles. Jensen Fey Architects designed the project and Rushforth Construction is the contractor.

Miles said the frame is up. Construction photos at show the excavation. Documents filed with the city estimate the construction cost at just over $3.5 million.

The Tukwila iFly is the first franchise in the Northwest. Others are in California, Utah, Florida, Dubai and Singapore.

The Tukwila operator was not immediately available but, according to the website, the grand opening is scheduled for August.

“I’ll let you try it first,” Haggerton told members of the Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce.

Another big industrial lease

Industrial broker Todd Clarke and his colleagues at Kidder Mathews wrapped up a big industrial deal, and more are on the way.

Team Kidder placed Puget Sound International in 248,000 square feet at Pacific Coast Corporate Park II in Fife with a seven-year lease.

“That is a done deal,” Clarke said. The tenant is a third-party logistics company and truck brokerage that is consolidating from multiple locations. The lease represents what he called neutral absorption, meaning PSI will be filling about as much space as it is vacating.

Even so, this and other recent mega deals have cut the number of big spaces — 400,000 square feet and above — in the Southend from six to three. “So it is a positive story and positive trend for the broader market,” said Clarke. Recent activity among large-space tenants — 200,000 square feet and above — is more than all the activity put together over the last two years.

Another big deal kicking around the market had the packaging company Sealed Air taking 186,000 square feet at Northwest Corporate Park in Kent. Fellow brokers said Scott Alan of Colliers International reps the tenant, though Alan declined to confirm that. He did, however, say the rumored deal is in question, and they’re looking at other properties.

Not everything is coming up roses for industrial landlords. A lot of smaller spaces — 50,000 to 70,000 square feet — remain vacant with not a lot of tenant activity, Alan and Clarke say.

“Activity tends to be top down [and] top-down activity tends to be larger Fortune 500 companies,” said Clarke. He put the PSI deal together for both the tenant and landlord, ING, with Doug Klein and Thad Mallory.

The two Natalies step down

There’s been a big shakeup at the Fearey Group, a Seattle PR and public affairs company that represents developers, including Vulcan Real Estate.

Last month, the company’s long-time president, Natalie Price, left to start her own firm, Price Public Relations. On Monday another Fearey veteran, Senior VP and Director of Public Affairs Natalie Quick, announced she is leaving to “focus on new adventures” including her first novel, though she will continue working as a consultant on several Fearey accounts.

“I felt like if I was ever going to [start my own firm], now is the time,” said Price, who is eager to resume working with clients rather than managing staff.

The Natalies had been at Fearey for a long time. When you thought of the Fearey Group, you thought of Quick and Price. This prompts the question of whether they’ll reconnect. Both say the answer is no, though Price seemed to leave the door open, saying there are no immediate plans to do so.

As for the Fearey Group, CEO Pat Fearey has temporarily taken over Price’s post and retained another PR veteran, Sally Poliak, as a consultant to reorganize the firm and recruit a new president.

Hot tip from a Vegas cabbie

Real estate pros had an aha moment when they realized the condo sector was in trouble. For Tom Parsons, formerly of Opus Northwest and now partner in charge of the Northwest for Holland Development, the moment came in 2007 during a cab ride in Las Vegas.

When the driver found out Parsons was a developer, he remarked how real estate was a great way to make money and reported that he had just bought his third condo.

Parsons, a panelist at last week’s Commercial Real Estate Women meeting in Seattle, saw the writing on the wall. “I said, ‘That’s it, this baby is going down,’” he told CREW members.

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About CRE Northwest

Specialist in office & investment real estate in Seattle & the Eastside
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