Most people still identify WeWork as a company that famously popularized shared workspace, but based on some of its recent activities, the firm is moving toward becoming a global landlord and property management firm. In a recent leasing transaction in Seattle, which has not closed, yet, WeWork is squarely positioning itself in this direction; it leased the entire 61,000 square-foot, Weber Thompson-designed Watershed building at 900 N. 34th St. in Seattle, according to a report by the Puget Sound Business Journal.
The seven-story structure is in the city’s Fremont neighborhood, and when completed it will be the only building to pursue the 2014 version of Seattle’s Living Building Pilot Program (LBPP), and the third building overall to pursue the program.
The property owner is the Fremont Dock Company, an entity owned and operated by Suzie Burke and her son Michael Osterfeld. The new property, located at the corner of Troll Avenue N. and N. 34th Street is planned to link the core of Fremont with new developments on Stone Way. Most importantly, the building is smack dab in the middle of Fremont’s tech trifecta comprised of Google, Adobe and Tableau.
This is not WeWork’s first such lease, although it may be the first one in Seattle. But the company has been slowly moving in this direction in other markets, and it was only a matter of time before it did so in the Puget Sound region, as well. In October of 2017, The Registry reported that WeWork Enterprise subleased the entire available office component of The Village at San Antonio Station in Mountain View, Calif. from LinkedIn. The two-building property totals just over 450,000 square feet.
One of the buildings has just been leased to Facebook, which announced its partnership with WeWork in this location earlier this week.
In March of this year, WeWork also announced that it was taking the entire Union Bank Building at 430 California Street in San Francisco, or roughly 250,000 square feet of the 22-story building. WeWork has leased the building for an 18-year term and is scheduled to move into the property in the first quarter of 2019.
WeWork Enterprise is a distinct operating unit at WeWork that focuses on corporate end users and touts office solutions for teams of any size. The company says that using WeWork will provide its corporate customers convenience—no long-term leases, although recent reports are seeing WeWork working toward multi-year agreement with corporate tenants—as well as significant operational cost savings. WeWork says its Enterprise service should cost tenants 25 percent less than a typical office lease. The company is looking to take on administrative expenses, office amenities, cleaning & maintenance, design & construction and rent expenses for their tenants. The service, called Custom Builds, offers to make this a possibility for “a handful of offices, a floor, or even a whole building.”
A similar deal occurred in Vancouver, BC, where WeWork took over 76,000 square feet in the city’s Bentall III property, a 492,000 square foot, 32-story building, according to a report from the Financial Post from early October of 2017. According to the report, Amazon is planning to take 147,000 square feet in a new building developed by Oxford Properties in downtown Vancouver located at 401 W. Georgia St. This would double the company’s presence in the Western Canadian city, however since that property will not be ready for a couple of years, Amazon signed a deal with WeWork for two years at Bentall III. WeWork was able to secure additional 53,000 square feet at Bentall II, another building part of the Bentall Centre, a complex of four Class A buildings located at the center of downtown Vancouver’s business district.
According to Chinese-based Mingtiandi, WeWork also leased four floors in Swire Properties’ Taikoo Shing on Hong Kong island in March of 2018. This was followed by a November 2017 takeover of an entire Class A office building in downtown Shanghai in the China Overseas International Center near Xintiandi.