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Seattle CBD Retail Still Depends on Office Worker Support

Downtown Seattle retail, as with many urban cores, has experienced major challenges during the pandemic. Retail here is still dependent on the thousands of office workers who frequent vertical buildings and it is increasingly looking like a fall office return for major employers. 

Some 41 retail properties were completed since the start of 2020, the largest being Wilburton Village in Bellevue which is anchored by Target and also includes Dave & Busters, according to Kidder Mathews’ second quarter retail report. Smaller scale developments are more prevalent, whether it is build-to-suits for single tenants or smaller buildings built for two or three expanding tenants.

As expected, absorption turned negative at more than 550,000 square feet in the second and third quarters of 2020 but by second quarter 2021, absorption was positive. The 12-month absorption is slightly negative at 31,000 square feet. On the positive, Amazon is taking spaces for food stores, opening in Bellevue (Factoria) and pending in Federal Way (The Commons). On the negative, there are continuing closures of full-service restaurants especially in locations dependent on daytime employment, says Andy Robinson of Kidder Mathews’ valuation advisory services.


Inside The Story

Andy Robinson

About Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown has decades of experience in corporate communications and marketing management with organizations including Coldwell Banker Residential, Grubb & Ellis, Marcus & Millichap, NAIOP, SIOR and ALM. In those positions, she worked in conjunction with chief executive officers and chief marketing officers to create corporate messaging, cohesive branding standards, strategic marketing plans and thought pieces. Brown is a frequent speaker at industry events and an editing adjunct professor for an online course. She has a master’s degree in mass communications from San Jose State University.

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