michaelchrist

Seco’s Michael Christ views Southport campus as region’s ‘next logical tech hub’

Seco hasn’t leased any of its 730,000 square feet of office space in the Southport area of Renton – but that didn’t stop the company from buying additional land in the area for $23.5 million earlier this year.

Seco’s founder and CEO Michael Christ sees big potential in the area.

“I recognized the unique locational characteristics and knew Southport was poised as the next logical tech hub to emerge for the Puget Sound,” he said.

What is your vision for the Southport area? Beyond its location on the waterfront, the existing infrastructure within and surrounding Southport could support a large-scale mixed-use urban development and sustain a runway for growth. The initial site was 27 acres with a seven-lane freeway exit leading to its front door and more highway and freeway connections than any site I had worked on in the past. In addition, there existed provisions for rare data and electrical power capacity and redundancies proving critical as we move further into edge computing and the electrification of vehicles. I have already begun to plan for the eventuality of autonomous vehicles here on site, including the initiation of a pilot route. Finally, I saw a unique opportunity along our private waterfront to initiate a water taxi program, with connections to cities around the lake, as an ecological and aesthetically positive alternative to single occupancy vehicles.

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What, specifically, makes Renton poised for growth? With hundreds of acres of underdeveloped property, the Southport community represents the last significant large-scale urban redevelopment opportunity inside the Interstate 405, Interstate 90, Interstate 5 triangle. In addition, parcels within the district are large, contiguous and already zoned to support meaningful redevelopment.

Housing is a key issue for any large employer in Seattle metro. Renton has the region’s best housing stock with unrivaled affordability among other Eastside communities and diversity among its housing options. There are opportunities for housing growth to be balanced with office expansion within the district.

Has Covid-19 impacted Renton’s capacity for growth? Refreshingly, city leaders have come together with a priority of keeping the community and supporting us through the pandemic and the challenges we are experiencing. So no, I don’t believe Covid will have an impact on capacity.

If Covid has taught our industry anything it would be to have more of a focus on flexibility, wellness and innovative collaboration. And I expect corporations will smartly look to markets like Renton to have that flexibility to grow and expand along with health-forward amenities.

What drove your initial interest in real estate? No bar to entry.


Michael Christ

Company: SECO Development Inc.

Founded: 1989

Location: Renton

Position: CEO

Years in position: Since inception

Volunteer positions: Mostly supporting music and the arts.

Hometown: Seattle and NYC

Residence: Seattle

Family: Married with three children

Education: Stonybrook University — graduated with honors in philosophy with an emphasis in math.

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