Unico Properties has been sitting on a big, high-profile slice of real estate gold right beside Amazon’s campus in Seattle’s hottest neighborhood all year. And now, the firm says it’s just about ready to start looking for technology companies to fill one of the city’s most eligible office spaces.
Of course, Unico Regional Director Andrew Cox says he’s not just looking to the tech sector to lease the building that now serves as Pemco Insurance’s headquarters. But it’s pretty clear that’s likely who will go after the space.
It’s still too early to say what company will eventually move into the property, but this certainly won’t be the last we hear of it.
The building is a 160,000-square-foot rectangle, with wide open floor plans and one of the most noticeable signs in the entire city right along Interstate 5. Cox said he thinks the space will end up being filled by two tenants, including a 100,000-square-foot headquarters-type operation that could accommodate about 800 workers there.
The property even has room to add another 500,000-square-foot building next door, just in case someone wants to set up yet another urban campus in the area.
The Pemco building sits just blocks from Amazon’s expanding headquarters in a city that continues to attract tech companies looking to tap into the talent pool. Even Expedia recently announced a move to Seattle, setting up its own waterfront campus in the Interbay neighborhood.
According to a recent study by commercial real estate services firm CBRE Group, office rents grew by 32 percent between 2013 and 2015 all around Lake Union. That’s more than triple the growth of the entire Seattle market.
“That was certainly a leading factor of our interest in the property,” Cox said of the tech boom happening around the Pemco building. “Those opportunities don’t come along very often.”
The Puget Sound Business Journal reported in December that Unico paid $52 million for the property. Pemco, meanwhile, won’t be going far as it has bought another, smaller headquarters facility less than a mile away.
Pemco will leave its current building at the end of the year, and Cox said that’s when Unico will really start marketing things. In the meantime, it’s drafting up renovation plans and starting to get the word out that the property is up for lease. The firm has even renamed the site the Yale & Thomas building.
Cox admits the property needs “a lot of love” and doesn’t exactly look like your average high-tech office space right now. But all that can be remedied with a major facelift.
“It’s not often a building looks its best at night when it has cool lights on it,” he joked.