Despite its nightlife boom, ask Capitol Hill business owners and developers what the neighborhood really needs and you’ll likely hear a call for more daytime activity. Amid the Hill’s latest mixed-use apartment construction wave, a few developers are making space for daytime desk jockeys in their new Capitol Hill buildings. Companies that have recently moved into the neighborhood have cited the area’s strong food and drink and entertainment assets, along with an explosion in new apartments for companies with workers increasingly drawn to walkable, commute-free living.
Capitol Hill whiz developer Liz Dunn said the unmet demand for office space in Pike/Pine prompted her to make office a key component of her her latest development, Chophouse Row.
“We’re not getting any office because the national market hasn’t caught up,” Dunn said, explaining that large, nationally-focused developers now building in the neighborhood aren’t yet focused on the area’s daytime potential. “It’s going to be folks like me and Legacy, local owners, who are going to be able to build office space.”
Dunn told CHS that several tenants have signed leases at the 11th and Pike project and at least one would announce their move in the coming weeks. Generally, Dunn said she’s seeking out creative and tech-minded companies to fill the 25,000 square feet of space that spans three floors and two half floors.
Following the success of her 2012-opened Agnes Underground coworking space, Dunn will also be dedicating an entire floor inside Chophouse to coworking. The currently unnamed work space will offer a traditional coworking membership, as well as conference room and meeting space memberships for nearby businesses.
In addition to coworking spaces make places for the new era of one-person companies and freelancers to keep office hours, Capitol Hill has found some places for desks in repurposed buildings like Hunters Capital’s 12th Ave Ballou Wright or, even more creatively, in some of the many Hill building’s earmarked for eventual redevelopment. In some cases, it’s been part of the neighborhood’s shift from its arts-focused past. In others, we have a fascinating, globally recognized showcase of the future of office building design and construction (though filling it with tenants has been another matter). Others do it the old fashioned way. While still others like Add3 have grown here and thrived to the point where they can afford to find new spaces on Capitol Hill for their growing businesses. New office space for developer Capitol Hill Housing and other nonprofits is also part of the plan for 12th Ave Arts when it opens this November.
It’s possible some of the retail space in the new transit oriented development around Capitol Hill Station could also have daytime office uses.
For others, the pressure to grow is relentless. ‘Seattle’s top startup’ Simply Measured packed up and left the Hill for more space in Belltown last year. Other unique businesses that had made the Hill home recently decided to opt for new neighborhoods include Luna Sandals which moved to Lower Queen Anne and Fran’s Chocolates which took off for Georgetown.
Given their light manufacturing needs, neither would likely have been a fit for the other local project Dunn referred to a block away across E Pike where an ambitious office-focused development will rise in coming years. Developers at Legacy Pine believe deeply that there will be strong demand for office space in Pike/Pine, and have been signing up tenants for their planned 50,000 square feet of office space, although representatives would not yet divulge any names. Land use notice signs are already up for the project.
The 11th and Pine building is the current home of Value Village, The Stranger, and The Rhino Room
Big Fun. The Stranger, among Capitol Hill’s most well known office tenants, is staying put in the building, for now.
“We’ve had a very great relationship,” said Legacy representative Will Nelson. “They’ll have some decisions to make on what they want to see long term.”
A Legacy rep previously told CHS that it seems unlikely the newspaper would be open to altering its operations for a interim two-year move during construction. But in a neighborhood looking to foster and grow its ranks of daytime office workers, keeping its existing cubicle dwellers might be an important first step.