Seattle Construction Update: The Emerald City Still Has the Most Cranes in the U.S.

Earlier this month, Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) released their biannual crane count and despite a slight decrease in the number of cranes dotting the Seattle skyline, the Emerald City held strong with the most cranes in the U.S. at 59. As the report outlines, activity in Seattle is primarily concentrated within the mixed-use sector with most projects falling within the South Lake Union and Capitol Hill regions. Looking to 2019, RLB gives a positive forecast, as the report describes that “several major projects are slated to start construction, including renovations to Key Arena and an addition to the Washington State Convention Center.”

Many of the projects represent apartments for rent or condominiums for purchase, this amidst a tightening market for office space in Seattle. As Seattle Times reports, falling vacancy rates and rising rents are boosting demand for new office space. The Broderick Group “expects 4.4 million square feet of office space to open in Seattle over the next few years — the equivalent of six or seven skyscrapers — and about two-thirds of the space is already spoken for.”

The RLB report does not include cranes in other cities, such as the burgeoning skyline in Bellevue, currently home to approximately fifteen cranes (with a few more in the nearby cities of Kirkland and Redmond as well).

The following observations aggregate continued tech growth in the region, which is fueling economic expansion and many of those construction cranes in the Seattle skyline:


·        Amazon will reportedly occupy 15 million square feet of office space in Seattle with current commitments.

·        Apple secured 70,000 square feet of office space at Two Union Square.

·        Google is under construction on or in planning of a total of 1 million square feet of office space in South Lake Union.

·        Facebook will expand Oculus by 60,000 square feet at Home Plate Center in SODO.

·        F5 Networks leased just over 500,000 square feet of office space at F-5 Tower.

·        Expedia will expand to Interbay later this year in what could comprise 1.9 million square feet in Seattle.


·        Amazon now has an estimated 2,000 employees in Bellevue, which could increase to 2,500 employees by 2020.

·        Vulcan Real Estate is planning 3 million square feet of office space in Bellevue.

·        Tableau Software will occupy 180,000 square feet of space at Kirkland Urban later this year.

·        Facebook is developing 650,000 square feet of space in Redmond for Oculus.

·        Microsoft is in the midst of a multi-billion-dollar extension to their Redmond campus.

·        SRM is building a 136,000 square foot building near Google Kirkland.

While Seattle is still catching up to other West Coast gateway cities—such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver, BC—a thriving tech-driven economy, sustained construction growth, and a positive outlook for 2019, ensure that the Emerald City will continue to emerge as a global city on the rise.

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