New Monorail Director

The PI is reporting that the Monorail project has a new director

A top transportation consultant who worked on the Las Vegas monorail system has been picked to temporarily run Seattle’s troubled monorail project, weeks before a city-imposed deadline for determining whether the line should survive.

John Haley Jr. of the firm Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. was announced this evening as the interim executive director. Haley has extensive transit and transportation experience, including stints as deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

“He knows his job is to come in and help us figure out what to do,” including possibly abandoning the project, said board member Cleve Stockmeyer, head of a search committee. “He has committed to be objective.”

My hope is that he can bring the project back from the dead, but that’s probably too much to ask of a transportation consultant! 🙂

UPDATE: The Stranger presents the first positive article on the monorail I’ve seen in quite a while…

Good Time to Buy?

Half Dome Cables ClimbAre you wondering if now is a good time to buy a home? There are so many factors that have gone into the latest housing boom that it can be difficult to gauge whether or not the high prices are here to stay. With that said, today’s Wall Street Journal makes a pretty convincing case that the hot job market in Seattle has led to the rising home prices. (I’m pretty sure this article is only available today before it goes behind a firewall.)

How does the Seattle-area job market look into the future?
There are still lots of upsides to the local job market. The WSJ notes that the “area gained more than 45,000 jobs in 2004” with Boeing accounting for “more than 3,700 workers”. In addition, Microsoft has a “20-year plan to add 2.2 million square feet of offices to its 435-acre suburban Redmond campus to accommodate as many as 12,000 new employees.” .

The WSJ also notes that “homes are selling for a premium in some locations along proposed routes for two ambitious transportation projects: a light-rail link and a monorail line that would offer commuters alternatives to cars and buses. There are plans for a 36-story condo tower along the proposed monorail at the historic Pike Place Market.” This analysis from the WSJ agrees with my earlier post about how mass transit has a HUGE positive effect on local property values.

Starbucks is Built for Growth

Pike Place Market StarbucksI ran across this interesting article on how Starbucks manages their real estate. Corporate real estate is not my usual thing, but I thought the insights were quite interesting and show how important location is to the Starbucks brand.

Starbucks is a concept driven as much by real estate as it is by coffee and the coffee experience. These days Starbucks opens at least three new locations a day somewhere in the world. It has taken a lot of real estate to open up 9,000+ Starbucks locations and it will take even more real estate to reach their stated goal of 30,000 global locations.

The blog entry quoted above is from a review of Built for Growth by a former EVP of Real Estate with Starbucks. In the book, the author describes how “Starbucks gained market dominance through finding the best real estate locations.”

While not surprising, it’s interesting to hear the different ways that location has become an intergral part of Starbucks’ growth strategy.