Seattle’s Shifting Building Boom

To track building activity in large urban areas like Seattle, analysts commonly conduct periodic crane counts

However, as crane counts for other metropolises have either marginally increased or remained the same, Seattle was the only big U.S. city to see a drop. Previously Seattle led the country, but with a 22% reduction in cranes over the last six months, only 9 cranes separate the city’s lead over Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago. 

In addition, the Downtown Seattle Association reports a 23% decline in construction projects (74 to 57) in the last six months, with over half of them dedicated to the residential sector. Moreover, office construction at the end of 2017 was only 3.6 million square feet with just 10 million square feet planned over the next three years, compared to the peak of 5 million square feet in 2015 and 2016. 

Despite these 6 month decreases, current construction in downtown Seattle surpasses that of 2015, currently boasting a 220-project pipeline. 

New office, residential and transit construction is being driven by tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.  With a crane count that is still leading the U.S., Seattle’s building boom seems far from over.

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