South Lake Union: A Success Story

September 8, 2018

Stand in the center of South Lake Union on any given weekday and you will see the activity of a vibrant innovation ecosystem that is buzzing with tech and creative workers, residents and visitors. Walk, bike or take the Seattle Streetcar down green streets; dine at restaurants spilling out onto wide sidewalks; see historic and modern buildings, as well as affordable, market rate and luxury housing coexisting side by side.

A Look Back

For newcomers to Seattle, it may be hard to imagine that just a decade ago, South Lake Union was filled with blocks of parking lots and warehouses. At the time, it would have been almost impossible to believe that South Lake Union would become a new economic engine for Seattle; home to companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, the University of Washington School of Medicine, and hundreds of other tech and creative firms, as well as home to thousands of residents.



Hard to imagine that just a decade ago, South Lake Union was filled with blocks of parking lots and warehouses
Aerial view of Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood

Inclusive Development

City leaders travel from all over the country to Seattle wanting to know how South Lake Union was transformed into a center of innovation and opportunity. While the redevelopment is one of our proudest accomplishments, it’s also indicative of Vulcan Real Estate’s larger vision, which is to be a catalyst for creating lasting value wherever we develop and invest.

The secret to South Lake Union’s success is the framework of inclusive development that we used to redevelop our 60-acre portfolio in ways that benefit as many stakeholders as possible. It required the cooperation and support of the city, various neighborhood groups, business and property owners, urbanists and environmentalists, future tenants and other strategic partners to work toward a common vision of transforming South Lake Union into a vibrant district.

And that cooperative spirit has truly paid off.



While the redevelopment is one of our proudest accomplishments, it’s also indicative of Vulcan Real Estate’s larger vision, which is to be a catalyst for creating lasting value wherever we develop and invest
Crowds gather at the annual South Lake Union Block Party festival—a free neighborhood celebration featuring local food and beverage vendors, live music performances, and local art displays

A Dynamic Neighborhood

South Lake Union is a place filled with cutting-edge pioneers and innovators who are changing the world every day. From major medical breakthroughs happening at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Allen Institute and the University of Washington School of Medicine, to e-commerce titan Amazon, South Lake Union is replete with organizations large and small that are leading the way to a better tomorrow.

In addition to being a place for “discoverers”, South Lake Union is also a place to discover. From great parks to great dumplings, there’s a surprise around every corner just waiting to be found.

Buzzing bars, hip eateries and lunchtime food trucks (and a Whole Foods Market), have produced a foodie’s paradise. From Indian and Asian to Italian or Korean, South Lake Union offers dozens of different cuisines to cater to its international populationof residents, employees and visitors.

After a delicious nosh, take a walking tour of South Lake Union’s outdoor “art gallery” and discover more than 22 pieces of public art such as Dan Corson’s incredible sculpture of suspended glass or experience a glass forest canopy with Spencer Finch’s “There Is Another Sky.”



There’s a surprise around every corner just waiting to be found
Residents, workers and visitors enjoy the shops, restaurants and attractions that South Lake Union’s dynamic urban neighborhood has to offer

Focus on Sustainability

South Lake Union is also a place to discover how buildings and nature can live in greater harmony. While many of the environmentally sustainable features incorporated into buildings are behind the scenes, one very visible component is the Swale on Yale. Located in a four-block area on Yale and Pontius avenues between Thomas and Republican, are bioswales planted with various reeds and grasses that naturally clean pollutants from more than 188 million gallons of runoff water annually before it enters Lake Union. Not only do the swales provide a much needed benefit for the water quality of Lake Union, but they also enhance the neigborhood with surface water, plants and wildlife. 
 



The Swale on Yale is planted with various reeds and grasses that naturally clean pollutants from more than 188M gallons of runoff water annually before it enters Lake Union
The South Lake Union streetcar line runs 1.3 miles and connects the fast-growing South Lake Union neighborhood to Seattle’s vibrant downtown core. The streetcar line opened in December 2007 and currently carries as many as 3,000 riders daily

History of Innovation

South Lake Union has a long history of innovation—from being home to the first Ford Model T assembly plant west of the Mississippi River in 1914, to Bill Boeing's first airplane factory, where it manufactured seaplanes in 1916, to today—where it is home to some of the greatest innovators of our time. And while we can’t predict what innovations tomorrow will bring, we’re betting it will happen in South Lake Union.
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