The first full work week of 2020 will include new offices kicking into motion for the first time above the streets of Pike/Pine in a project many thought would never survive WeWork’s tumultuous 2019.
WeWork Capitol Hill is set to officially debut as the company’s newest Seattle facility Monday, January 6th officials confirmed with CHS this week.
The opening will continue a string of activity for WeWork in the area. Its Ballard location — a more modest, two-floor affair above a development that also added a Target to the neighborhood, opened last week.
As the fast-rising and now cost-cutting office real estate and coworking company is reportedly searching for solutions to remove itself from hundreds of leases around the country, its ambitious new 11th Ave facility will come online after months of delays and in a limited fashion that will leave much of the five-story building it and its customers will call home empty and still under construction, and without its key central tenant — Microsoft.
The major cause for the delay and softer than hoped launch on Capitol Hill won’t be WeWork’s dramas documented in Vanity Fair.
WeWork has run into something much more brutal than the cutthroat world of startups and pre-IPO valuations — the City of Seattle’s permit desk.
With the company inking Microsoft for an entire floor of its 11th Ave project, the city’s official “assembly” use for a fourth floor that will feature offices, conference rooms, a dining area, and an event space is requiring a heavy set of upgrades and changes to the structure of the newly constructed, preservation incentive-boosted building to meet city requirements.
WeWork Capitol Hill was the surprising answer to what kinds of companies would utilize the space in the office plus commercial project that created the Kelly Springfield building out of the bones and the auto row-era facade of the 102-year-old structure. Three years ago the end of this December, it will have been three years since people were last in the old building mostly cleared away to build the new development.
The project from developer Legacy Commercial and architects at Ankrom Moisan has created three stories of new offices over the old auto row-era structure. That building was once the neighborhood’s Value Village and before that, REI, and long before that, the Kelly Springfield Motor Truck Company.
Now it is a WeWork building with five stories of dedicated WeWork space including “light-filled lounges, modern conference rooms, and sleek private offices” and, possibly, eventually, maybe, some of the rapidly growing companies newest features like the Made by We store. It stands in the middle of the busy Pike/Pine nightlife and entertainment district and a short walk through Cal Anderson from the Capitol Hill Station. 30 or so parking stalls await below in the underground garage.
With plans to eventually have space for around 1,300 workers, when it debuts in January, WeWork’s Capitol Hill office space will be limited to only a floor or two. The company remains mum on its plans for what most of Capitol Hill will see of the operation on its high-ceilinged first floor. The building will also start without its main tenant as construction work continues on the fourth floor to make the new workspace for Microsoft. The Redmond-based tech giant has planned to lease an entire floor of the five-story facility.
Other elements are ready to launch at full power. Construction dust is being cleared away this week and officer furniture and fixtures will start moving in soon along with printer room equipment and the final touches on the building’s tech infrastructure. Its giant landscaped roof is ready with a large patio space and a small dog run plus commanding views of the city and — on a clear day — Mount Rainier. Next will come additions like a WeWork’s game console and stocking communal dining areas. There will also be more art and huge murals to join selections like the banana wallpaper already installed in one printer bay.
On the building’s 11th Ave side, neighboring the building home to alternative biweekly The Stranger and looking out over bars and restaurants like Queer/Bar, a space is being prepared for a WeWork Labs area. The company’s start-up incubator will be active here hoping to help foster the creation of big, new things on Capitol Hill.
The building’s developers expect WeWork to stay the course on 11th Ave.
“Of course there remains the possibility of WeWork giving back the space,” Legacy’s Walter Scott tells CHS, but, he points out, the building has the only new construction, highest quality infrastructure office space — the so called “Class A” of commercial real estate — on Capitol Hill. If WeWork is going to keep any space, he said, “It would be rare space like this is.”
WeWork will open at 1125 11th Ave soon. You can learn more at wework.com.
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