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September 18, 2015

Developer Walker John tackles new project near East Capitol Campus

The Olympian

Rolf Boone

Work is under way to transform that building into 43 housing units, according to city of Olympia information posted on site. The 43 housing units are split between seven townhouse-style apartments and 36 one-bedroom and studio apartments.

John also is set to begin work on a new apartment building at Adams Street and Legion Way.

The Jefferson Street project is another example of downtown office space being used in non-office ways, said Evan Parker, first vice president and partner at Kidder Mathews, a commercial real estate company.

Parker, who has worked in Thurston County commercial real estate for 11 years, shared details about John's latest project and provided an overview of the state of commercial real estate in Thurston County during a presentation to the West Olympia Business Association on Thursday.

Projects like John's have brought "great diversity" to Olympia's downtown, but there's also plenty of office space in Thurston County that remains for lease. That's partly because of a lack of top-quality office space, sometimes referred to as "Class A" space, he said, and a lack of "cool, neat" office space.

Parker has a message for landlords looking to attract office tenants: "If you want to lease space, you have to do something different from what everyone else is doing," he said.

Other commercial real estate activity in Thurston County, according to Parker:

  • KPPF Consulting Engineers of Seattle have leased 8,000 square feet in one of the MJR Development-owned buildings at Woodland Square Loop in Lacey, he said. They also are in discussions with five other tenants for vacant space in the area.
    "I think it's being well-received," said Parker about efforts to revitalize that area of Lacey.
  • Some of the space left vacant by the Western Institutional Research Board's move to Pierce County has been filled by Olympia Orthopaedics Associates on Olympia's west side. They have leased about 14,000 square feet, he said.
  • Les Schwab is leaving downtown Olympia's core for a site at Plum Street and Union Avenue. Parker believes the tire shop's old home at Columbia Street and State Avenue could be a "dynamite redevelopment play," possibly attracting a restaurant or condos, he said.

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