Emerging Markets in the Puget Sound Region [May Breakfast Recap]

three men hold an oversized checkOn Wednesday morning, we heard from Seattle’s neighboring cities that are emerging markets in our area (and don’t have a head tax!).

Before the program started, there was a recap on the Spring Property Tour and a Fred Hutchison representative gave their appreciation to everyone that came out earlier in the month. NAIOP WA State then presented a generous donation for $4,000 to the cancer research study organization.

Officials from the cities of Burien, Kent, and Bremerton talked about development in their respective areas and Susan Kemp, Marketing Manager at Hart Cowers, moderated the panel. The speakers were Jimmy Matta, Mayor of Burien; Bill Ellis, Chief Economic Development Officer for the City of Kent; and Cary Bozeman, Commissioner for the Port of Bremerton.

Mayor Matta started the panel with the vision and assets that his city offers to developers and families alike. He aims to lead a city that is walkable, safe and boasts growing investments. Burien has recently passed a school bond and is home to many notable industries from Theo Chocolate to Washington State Cherries to Beecher’s Cheese. Not only is Burien a foodie’s paradise, it is home to a recently developed residential building with 259 units and state-of-the-art medical facilities with a new $52-million-dollar investment by Kaiser Permanente. Burien was recently ranked #85 in the Top 100 Best Small Cities to Raise a Family and Matta attests this to the way in which the city has grown in recent years. Matta underscored his desire for economic growth that is “smart growth.” By the way, the City of Burien does not have a head tax.

Bill Ellis, Chief Economic Development Officer for the City of Kent, is in the process of repositioning the industrial valley. With warehouses being worth more than offices right now, Kent sits in a nice position and has room to grow. He’s looking to develop the area for an even greater mix of office, industry and manufacturing. Home to many notable companies like the Washington Shoe Company, Amazon, Boeing, and CenterPoint Corporate Park, Kent has great potential and very good standing. Not only has the area boasted a net positive jobs flow, but the diversity in the manufacturing arena is vast—from heirloom tomatoes and muffins to dry suits and rocket engines (otherwise known as, and I quote, “A lot of cool sh*t!”). His focus for the recent future will be maturation and loosening zoning requirements, while embracing the moniker “Kent is the new SoDo.” I think he also mentioned that there is no head tax.

Cary Bozeman, Commissioner for the Port of Bremerton, followed both presentations with anecdotes from his impressive tenure with city development and public policy, most particularly in Bellevue in its growth heyday of the 80s and 90s, drawing parallels to Bremerton’s potential and sharing lessons learned. The moral of the stories encourage the public and private sectors to work hand-in-hand to develop a city that we all would want to be a part of in the next 30 years. Kitsap County is largely military-driven and has seen 1% growth year-over-year. With the exception of Bainbridge Island, most of the county has affordable housing, has a less-than-an-hour commute to the Seattle central business district, and boasts a lot of property with water. While there is no plan for the unhoused and it can be lacking in diversity, he said, Bozeman sees great opportunity in bringing a variety of amenities to sustain higher-density initiatives to the area—we all imagined for a moment what the Silverdale Mall could look like in 30 years with smart development. Bremerton is connected by runway and railway, along with other traditional transit. Bozeman is bullish on the fast ferries expanding and becoming much more commonplace, that residents will continue to move to the area for the quality of life, and expects that growth will continue for these reasons and more … as long as we plan for the next 30 years (and not attaining money without a sound plan in how to spend it first).

All of the panelists live in the areas they represented, and they shared their joy of living in those cities throughout the morning. Matta, Ellis and Bozeman answered questions about development in their cities in detailed specifics and in general, and we all left dreaming of smart development and the long-lasting, positive impact it can have on communities.

Be sure to check out the slides from the morning’s presentation by going to the NAIOP WA State app. Look for the paperclip icon (materials) for the 2018 May Breakfast.

If you have not yet downloaded the app, you can search for NAIOP Washington State in the Google or Apple app stores or click here. Your login is your email address and password, which is set to your last name unless you have changed it. To update your password, click here to request a password reset link or contact [email protected].

This article was written by NAIOP Washington State and Marketing Communications Committee member Sarah D. Fischer of CallisonRTKL.

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