Greater Seattle commercial property has skyrocketed in value in the last few years, and the ownership roster is a “an institutional ‘Who’s Who’” of domestic and foreign investors … Seattle has arrived,” says Kevin Shannon, a vice chairman at the international real estate services firm CBRE. In the first half of 2013, foreign investment accounted for 18.3 percent of the $2.9 billion spent on Puget Sound area commercial property, up from virtually nothing in 2011, according to international real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle.
Seattle’s position as a Pacific Rim gateway has made it an especially attractive location for Asian investments in office, hotel, and factory spaces. South Korea is leading the pack, with South Korean companies investing $114 million in Seattle properties in the last fiscal quarter alone. Steve Collins, an international director at Jones Lang LaSalle, says that tensions with North Korea have spurred South Korean investors to seek a safe haven for their funds.
Greater Seattle’s thus far less competition-saturated market climate make it the perfect candidate. Perhaps the most emblematic of Greater Seattle’s ascent on the international scene was the record-setting $740-per-square-foot sale of the 202 Westlake building to Germany’s GLL Real Estate Partners this September. The rise of the South Lake Union neighborhood’s value was foreseen even in the dark days of 2007, when San Francisco-based Spear Street Capital, the co-financer of the construction, foresaw the rising value of the region and fronted the capital for one of Seattle’s first post-recession speculative office projects. Evidently, even the “other” west coast hub is getting in on action here in Greater Seattle.