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A Commercial Real Estate Turnaround Is Underway on Seattle’s I-90 Corridor

In early February, the Puget Sound Business Journal ran a story about what it referred to as the “I-90 exit.” The story described the coming demise of the large office parks along the I-90 corridor, with companies like Microsoft and Boeing leaving substantial vacancies post-pandemic and where
T-Mobile had seriously downsized.

“Without the prospect of major tenants on the horizon, offices along the
I-90 corridor could face a much different future,” the reporter writes.

But Gavin Curtis, Executive Vice President at commercial real estate firm Hughes Marino’s Seattle office says these high-profile departures tell only one side of the story. He’s seeing a much different trend underway—companies eager to capitalize on newly available office space with ample parking and convenient access for commuters who are taking advantage of a windfall of available property on I-90 that can be customized to meet their needs.

Curtis points to Seattle-based company Elevate Outdoor Collective who created the iconic K2 ski and snowboard brand in 1962, invented the fiberglass ski and produced the first women-specific ski products. The company had been headquartered in downtown Seattle, but executives wanted closer proximity to the mountains—and a one-of-a-kind building that they could use to showcase their history and brand identity.

They reached out to Curtis, who found them a location on the I-90 corridor that would not only bring them closer to the mountains, but allow them to go big—taking over an entire building and doubling their size. It’s the first major deal of its kind on the corridor since the recent departures, but Curtis feels confident that with the prime available space and below-market rates, others will be soon to follow.

The I-90 corridor office availability offered Elevate a rare opportunity, Curtis says. “They didn’t want to share a building with anyone else,” he says. “Now, they can have branding everywhere, exterior building signage and offer a unique experience for buyers. The second you walk in, it’s Elevate Outdoor.”

And it wasn’t just features like safety, convenience, free parking and mountain proximity that won them over. They were also able to work with Hughes Marino to get extremely favorable rates, well below market value.

“The building also acts as a great marketing tool,” says Curtis, “it’s a draw for buyers and prospective employees.”

Elevate Outdoor will move into their new space by the end of the year. While they may be the first major brand to make a big bet on the I-90 corridor, says Curtis, he’s certain they won’t be the last.

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