Construction starts on huge office campus in Renton near Boeing

Jan 19, 2016, 2:53pm PST Updated: Jan 19, 2016, 3:40pm PST

Despite not having pre-leased any of the space, construction is starting Thursday on this three-building office campus in the Southport development on Lake Washington in Renton.

Even though it has not pre-leased any of the space, Seco Development officials say they will formally break ground on a $350 million office development in Renton.

The three nine-story buildings in the Southport development will have a total of 730,000 square feet, and will increase the amount of Class A office space in the Renton/Tukwila submarket by about one and a half times. It’s South King County’s largest office development under construction.

Renton and Tukwila are part of the South King County office market where, according to commercial real estate services company JLL, 16.5 percent of the top-quality office space is vacant. But in Renton and Tukwila, none of the Class A space is vacant. In a media advisory announcing Thursday’s groundbreaking, Seco officials cited “extreme confidence” in market conditions and tenant interest as their reason for starting construction.

Seco has been working for years on Southport, a 17.5-acre project, which is just off of Interstate 405 between the Boeing (NYSE: BA) plant and Renton’s Gene Coulon Park. Already part of the development are 384 apartments and retail space. In addition, a 12-story Hyatt Regency is under construction. Seco estimates that Southport will be worth $1 billion when it’s done.

Not only is Southport south county’s largest office development, it’s one of the largest new office projects in the region. It’s competing against new office buildings in downtown Bellevue and Seattle, and comes at a time when companies from Amazon to Weyerhaeuser are either expanding in urban locations or moving there. Amazon in the late 1990s looked at moving its headquarters at Southport, but chose South Lake Union instead.

Seco CEO and President Michael Christ has said Southport would be an ideal place for high-tech companies. They could use the waterfront location next to a large municipal park to recruit talent, and its deep water port and dock can accommodate CEOs’ yachts, Christ said last year. Plus, the campus is less than two miles from Renton Municipal Airport, which supports corporate jet travel.

A project spokesman on Tuesday said the three office buildings will be built all at once.

ZGF Architects designed the office buildings, and Exxel Pacific is the general contractor.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to say that the office buildings will be built all at once.