Along with increased freeway traffic and more ferry passengers funneling through the Greater Puget Sound in the last few weeks, significant movement in tech campus re-openings and one major Seattle real estate transaction suggest a bright light awaiting at the end of this nebulous, two-year-long, COVID-occluded tunnel.

Late last month, Google’s Seattle waterfront campus, known as the Lakefront Blocks in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, sold for a whopping $802 million, or $1,260 per square foot, likely a new record for the city’s office market. Vulcan Real Estate sold the two-block, four-building Google campus to German investment firm Deka Immobilien. The complex spans two city blocks, each of which has two six-story office buildings. The total square footage is 635,000 square feet. The transaction excluded the two apartment towers above the office buildings.

Sale of this major South Lake Union office anchor suggests a return to confidence in the tech office market. Still a vibrant area employer, Google is starting to relax its COVID restrictions, bring back perks, and resume at least a three-day-per-week office schedule for its employees.  Vulcan is currently developing another for Google, a 12-story high-rise at 520 Westlake Ave. N.

Meanwhile, tech giant Microsoft and travel tech magnate Expedia announced respective plans to reopen their offices across Washington State. For Microsoft, the change could see as many as 57,000 Microsoft workers to return to offices this month in Bellevue, Seattle, and Redmond headquarters (the latter of which has more than 100 buildings across 500 acres–where 47,000 people worked pre-pandemic). Similarly, Expedia’s 3,000 area employees will return to their Seattle-area Interbay headquarters on a hybrid basis starting April 4.

Underscoring this momentum is the latest from Public Health — Seattle & King County data. The agency reports that 87% of all eligible King County residents had completed their vaccine series and 95% had received at least one dose. The confidence created by high vaccination rates, combined with waning COVID infections and hospitalizations, and increased testing accessibility has helped to nudge office re-openings for many major employers.

With these big tech employers flinging open their office doors again, others are watching and speculating if we’ve finally entered that “next normal.”  We see scheduling flexibility as a feature of today’s workforce that isn’t going anywhere. To retain talent in a fiercely competitive space, managers are still wise to adjust to their employees’ work site needs, location, and time blocks. Adaptation to hybrid office environments remains a cornerstone. And when the time is right for you to secure funding for your next office space, we’re here to help.

Juniper Capital provides private real estate financing, including hard money loans for commercial, construction, multifamily residential opportunities and more. If you would like more information on this topic, contact us today.