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Old Posted Mar 27, 2015, 12:29 AM
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J-Shaped Tower Looks to Lure Seattle Tech Firms

Can Seattle developer Wright Runstad & Co. convince technology companies that a downtown skyscraper will make better office space than the hip lakefront neighborhood many of the firms now favor?

A lot is riding on the answer—about $600 million in development. In Seattle, as in many large cities, young, fast-growing technology companies often lease space in older, low-slung buildings in sometimes gritty parts of town, avoiding the tall towers built a generation ago and designed for very different tenants—namely, lawyers, bankers and accountants.

But Wright Runstad says the design of its planned building will impress the techies enough to convince them to move to city’s traditional financial district. The longtime Seattle developer’s plans for Rainier Square, unveiled last year and now awaiting final city approval, will span an entire city block and will feature a 58-story tower, a separate 12-story hotel as well as retail space. The first 40 floors of the tower are slated for 765,000 square feet of office space; 180 apartments will occupy the top 18 floors. If built as planned, the 849-foot tower will be Seattle’s second-tallest building.

What makes the building unusual is its shape, which resembles a ski jump, or even the letter “J,” with large bottom floors that narrow as the building rises. As a result, the building will have 27 different size floors. The wide base, with a 33,000 square-foot floor plate, would be significantly larger than most skyscrapers, whose floors are typically more than 25% smaller and rise uniformly from bottom to top.


To create the large, unobstructed spaces that technology companies find appealing, Wright Runstad’s tower would, on many floors, place the elevators to one side rather than in the middle of the floor as in traditional towers.

The development is a $600 million bet on a part of Seattle that has trailed its local competitors for office tenants—and buzz.


To be sure, there is more at stake than just a new building. If Wright Runstad, whose development experience includes building the headquarters of Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, Wash., and the former headquarters of Amazon in south Seattle, can lure technology companies downtown, it could help jump-start the area’s revitalization.
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