Home Commercial SECO Breaks Ground on Southport Office Complex in Renton

SECO Breaks Ground on Southport Office Complex in Renton

By Kristin Bentley

SECO Development broke ground today to begin building their Southport Waterfront Corporate Campus. This new office campus will serve as a hub for high tech firms and other companies looking for a creative work environment.

The Waterfront Corporate Campus is the final and most significant phase of the 2.4 million square foot Southport mixed-use waterfront development. At a cost of upwards of $350 million, it consists of three nine-story towers built over a six-floor parking podium, providing 730,000 square foot of Class A office space. Construction began this week and is anticipated to be completed mid-2018. It is one of the largest projects currently under construction in the Puget Sound region.

“Seattle has been singled out as having one of the best markets for high tech”

The campus will join the 383 units of luxury multifamily housing known as The Bristol, completed in 2008, and the 12-story 347-room Hyatt Regency Lake Washington with a convention center, currently under construction. This last fall the Hyatt Regency was secured as the flag hotel, considered a huge win for not only Southport but for the city of Renton as well. In addition, the Southport campus will feature four restaurants and additional first floor retail space.

“This is a very significant day for SECO Development, the City of Renton, and, I believe, all of Washington state,” said Michael Christ, President of SECO Development. “It heralds a transition from a region that was known and succeeded as a manufacturing base in this area. I believe this is the most unique site for companies to place their new headquarters. We’re breaking ground with absolute confidence.”

Architect Patrick Gordon of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects, recalls his part in the project. “Our involvement started in 2000. Looking back on that time, we couldn’t have imagined that we’d be sitting here in January of 2016 on a rainy day for a groundbreaking. We put the project in the drawer, but not one of us doubted that it’d come out again. The project we are working on today is not the same as the project we put into that drawer. We basically started over again a little over a year ago to completely redesign the building in order to respond to these [market] changes.”

Thursday’s muddy groundbreaking ceremony capped the final phase of a project that was conceived more than 25 years ago. In 1999, Christ and his wife, Min, took the first steps towards making his vision of Southport a reality by purchasing 17.1 acres of the waterfront property. Two years later the first phase was developed, the luxury residential complex. In 2014, ground was broken on the luxury hotel and conference center.

“Upon completion,” said Kip Spencer, SECO’s leasing director, “Southport will account for 12 percent of the office inventory in the Renton market. We will be the only Class A space in Renton, and that’s a big bold move. Michael is a visionary, he has passion for this. He’s done a lot of urban infill, it’s mainly been mixed-use that’s heavy on residential. This is his first foray with a significant office, and he can’t get this wrong. So we’re all in.”

According to the 2015 Commercial Value Assessment Roll, a report conducted by King County’s Department of Assessments, current market activity in North Renton is bountiful, with continuing occupancy at The Landing, a 608,000 sq. ft. outdoor shopping plaza with stores, restaurants, services, and a multiscreen movie theater, developed by Transwestern Harvest Lakeshore LLC in 2008. The plaza was the remnant of the former Boeing property, which was downsized in 2005.

Both Residence Inn by Marriott and Hampton Inn by Hilton Legacy Hotel began construction last August and are expected to be completed by late 2016, adding a total of 250 hotel rooms between Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park and the Boeing Renton Plant. Quendall Terminals, a 22-acre parcel of former industrial land on the southeast shore of Lake Washington, announced its latest development; 692 residential units, 30,600 sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space, and nearly 2,200 parking stalls.

“Southport is the first new Class A office space built in a long time, and the unique thing about this space is its close proximity to Lake Washington and the park,” said Cliff Long, the City of Renton’s Economic Development Director. “We don’t have a lot of this type of space and what we do have is not available, so this will be the first new product coming to the market that is in that category. As we enter into new markets with a four-star hotel and conference center and potential to attract new corporate users to that Class A space, it will help diversify our economy. That is going to have spillover effects for housing and retail demand in our other development areas.”

Located on the south shore of Lake Washington, Renton is ranked the fourth largest city in King County and eighth largest in the state of Washington. According to King County’s report, the location of Southport in North Renton is zoned with parts of Bellevue, Mercer Island, Newcastle and Northeast Kent. From 2014 to 2015, property value in this zone rose $219,091,200, an increase of 9.23 percent. The report also states that North Renton is a new neighborhood and has a differing market from the core of downtown Renton and the Renton Highlands to the east.

“We’re really focused on two other redevelopment areas in the city, one is Sunset Highlands,” said Long. “We have some projects in the works there for some multi-family housing, a new park and early learning childhood center, and a $2 million library. There’s a lot of energy there as well. We’re just getting the downtown interest back and are starting to see a lot of demand for new mixed-use products. All of these new efforts in Renton have been going on simultaneously for a long time. We’re excited to see what’s going on in South Lake Washington and the other progressing areas, and I think it’s all going to work together.”

“Seattle has been singled out as having one of the best markets for high tech,” said Christ. “Well, this is the place to put that company, or to expand it. And we’re open for business, as of today.”