By Kristin Bentley

Urban Visions Sustainable Real Estate received an approval from Seattle’s design board on Tuesday to move forward with its 1.1 million square foot office project in South Downtown, says Vice President Broderick Smith.

The firm anticipates receiving a master use permit by fall and will break ground as soon as the first space is pre-leased. According to Smith, Urban Visions is talking to several large users and could break ground next year, finishing the campus by 2020. “This is the perfect build-to-suit opportunity because of the scale,” said Smith. “It’s nice because someone could lease, say, half a million square feet, and we have the opportunity to build another half million square feet if they continue to grow. This seems like it’s everybody’s problem these days, they are running out of space because they’re growing so fast.”

This seems like it’s everybody’s problem these days, they are running out of space because they’re growing so fast

The seven-acre Class A office campus designed by the Seattle-based architecture firm NBBJ will consist of six buildings between eight to 10 stories and will include 45,000 square feet of retail, which is yet to be determined, over 64,000 square feet of open space and more than 21,000 of green space, as well as bicycle and walking paths.

The project site location and its connectivity–located near both Interstate 5 and 90 with an onsite light rail station–adds to its appeal. Finding enough land in Seattle to build an office campus of the project’s size is no small feat, but to find one with onsite public transportation and near interstate access is a rare opportunity. “It’s really the key to the site,” said Smith.

According to Colliers International’s 2016 First Quarter Office Research and Forecast Report, Class A office space in Seattle is currently sitting at a 7.9 percent vacancy rate, even after absorbing 414,787 square feet during the quarter. Seattle tenants in the market for space exceed 5.7 million square feet of demand, says the same report. Limited availability of large blocks of contiguous space has resulted in smaller tenants being displaced as owners position buildings to attract full floor users. Colliers’ report also states that demand for large block contiguous space far outpaces available supply, the firm anticipates declining vacancy rates and rising rental rates to continue throughout 2016.

Seattle-based Urban Visions, a firm that owns, invests, develops and manages its properties, is a father-son team specializing in downtown Seattle. Its focus is on unique areas that see substantial growth, indicating where the market is heading, such as Pioneer Square. Some of its other projects include the proposed 2nd and Pike Tower, a 440-foot residential tower with 340 units and about 15,000 square feet of retail. Another project is located at 200 Occidental Avenue South, an eight-story 216,000-square-foot Class A office building, and will be completed this fall. It also redeveloped Hard Rock Cafe Seattle, which was recently sold for nearly $21 million earlier this month.