Fremont: Seattle’s Silicon Canal – NAIOP Property Tour 2015

This year was my first time walking the Property Tour with NAIOP. When I registered, I thought, There is no way I could spend my whole day at this event. For sure, I would drop by, have lunch and go back to work. At 4:55 p.m., I looked at my half-drunk glass of wine at Evo’s Happy Hour and wondered where the time had gone.

It all began with lunch under an expansive tent on Kilroy’s Fremont Lake View Plaza. A panel of the who’s who in Fremont created quite the conversation over lunch. Robert Hendricks (Tableau), Rachel Yang (Joule), TJ Lehman (Mack Urban), Bryce Phillips (Evo), Mike Shields (Kilroy), and Michael Osterfeld (Fremont Dock Co.) answered a variety of questions posed by moderator Kyle Branum of Riddell Williams. 

Rachel Yang talked about the delicate nature of the restaurant business and how grateful she is to the community for their support in her success at Joule. Well, Rachel we are SO grateful you decided to land in Fremont! And with great landlords like Bryce Williams of Evo, who can complain?

There was some of the usual discussion of traffic and accelerated growth in Fremont. All the panelists agreed that they had not maxed out the development of Fremont yet. However, we need to find a way to get to and from Seattle on the whole.

On to the tour. First stop was Geocaching HQ, located directly east of Kilroy’s outdoor plaza. Office Manager and Global Real Estate Manager Maria MacDonald gave us a great tour of the unique and flexible space. Employees seemed relaxed and intent. The IT team dressed up for our tour groups by wearing ties with flip flops and shorts. The centrally located kitchen looked more like a big residential space. They have lunches catered often and use the hub to share business and personal info at gatherings. Cannot hate that.

At Tableau, we got a different flavor of collaborative workspace. With some workplace research, they have found ways to help teams work without interruption. This includes some distance between engineers and sales people. Sorry guys. We do talk a lot.

Up the hill to the North Edge Development, AP Hurd met us with a treasure trove of popsicles on the hot day. Just the day before, Tableau had announced they would take a bulk of the new building. The U-shaped building will maximize light and views of the lake and make the central part of the building a large outdoor space on several levels. Sounds like it will be beautiful!

Evo Founder Bryce Phillips greeted us at the entrance of their retail shop on Stone Way. His Fremont Collective houses Evo, restaurants Joule and The Whale Wins, and All Together Skate Park. 

Must admit this part of the tour was a nice departure to the typical development style. Of course money matters, but seeing some soul in development is heartening to my senses. The building’s balloon-frame ceiling is dramatic and refreshing. It covers the entire collective like a giant umbrella. A gentle scent of food from the Whale Wins spills over to the retail store. Honestly it just makes me wish it was time for dinner!

Last stop before happy hour: Mack Urban’s Ray Apartments on Stone Way gave us insight into how design and development come to fruition in Seattle’s relatively high rent scenario. TJ Lehman gave a comical look at the characters they derive from friends, pop culture, and even magazines to form a persona who will rent the finished apartment. Taylor, for example, is the ideal renter at Ray. She drives a Civic Hybrid and does yoga. She likes to have green space, but doesn’t want to garden herself. Millennials anyone?

Due to an unfortunately timed late appointment, I did not get to polish off my wine. I wished I had blocked out my entire day for this event—plenty of business, growing relationships at NAIOP, learning about a vibrant local community’s development and plans for the future.

Bryce Phillips gave his perspective on the day he spent touring real estate people through his space and participating on the panel. “It was really good to talk to a wide range of people in the industry, from developers to architects and others on the construction end of things. I appreciated that we were able to talk about affordable housing and transportation, two of the most pressing issues in our region. These challenges will take everyone coming together to create solutions. While it's easy to be very focused on our own projects, creating profits, etc., in order to sustain and build on the existing character of our city and specifically, Fremont, we need to emphasize the mix of solutions needed to create a viable, healthy balance into the future.”

Property Tour Committee co-chair Patrick Kassin was kind enough to sit down with me to talk through the makings of this great event. Things where a little different this year. With less money in their marketing budget and no outgoing chair to share knowledge, Patrick says, “We did wing some things. And we were the beneficiaries of extraordinary timing, a good local economy and a diverse panel of who’s who in Fremont that really helped.” The committee was also very creative. Where they lacked funding, they reached out to their contacts and asked for in-kind sponsorships. JLL was kind enough to do the all of the marketing and design for the event. Kilroy provided space for lunch, including the tent and chairs for the lunch panel. ArcRiot was willing to provide the brochures for free. Fremont Brewery donated two kegs of beer and Rachel Yang gave the food for the happy hour at a significantly reduced rate.

Patrick, I think it worked out! With over 200 people in attendance, next year will be high on expectations. Definitely a day well spent.

The Property Tour Committee is great mix of people and always looking for new members. They begin their meetings in September/October and meet over beer the last Thursday of each month. Committee membership is a great way to get to know your fellow NAIOP members and work on awesome projects like the Property Tour 2016. Contact the committee chairs, Patrick Kassin and Zach Clements, to join.

This article was submitted by NAIOP Washington State chapter and Marcom committee member MB Jackson.

Properties Toured: Geocaching HQ, Tableau, Ray Apartments, North Edge Development and the Fremont Collective

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