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New Smith Tower tenant betting big on the future of downtown Seattle

An estimated 100,000 people now live in downtown Seattle, and that number is growing despite major challenges with crime.

SEATTLE — It's a new year and a new lease for one of Seattle's most expensive apartments.

The 2,128-square-foot unit on the 37th and 38th floor of the Smith Tower in downtown Seattle now rents for a reduced price of $13,750 a month. The one-bedroom living space includes a full kitchen, two bathrooms, and a catwalk that leads to the iconic glass ball at the tip of the Smith Tower spire.

This is only the second time the space has been leased since it was built in 1914. The new tenant, MyFreeScoreNow CEO Bruce Cornelius, is betting big on Seattle.

"I love it. It's iconic and catches your eye when you're coming down the highway," Cornelius said from the penthouse level of his new Seattle home.

The tech entrepreneur is in the process of moving his business from California and believes the future is bright for Seattle.

"I discovered some great restaurants and great stores already," said Cornelius. "I've been to all the places where you can hear music and the symphony. They're going strong, and I think it only gets better."

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Listing broker Moira Holley, a co-founder of Realogics Sotheby's International Realty, said Cornelius is part of a growing trend of people moving back into downtown Seattle.

"I call it the boomerang effect," explained Holley. "There's a resurgence. I would say it's a renaissance happening downtown, and we started to see it last summer. Huge numbers of buyers started coming downtown and buying."

According to the Downtown Seattle Association, 100,000 people now live in the downtown area. Even during the pandemic, the population downtown increased by 10%.

"Seattle is too great to fail," said Dean Jones, co-founder of Realogics Sotheby's International Realty.

Jones feels Seattle is poised for a post-pandemic comeback, as history repeats itself, much like it did after the 1918 flu pandemic when the “Roaring 20s” followed.

"As the masks come down, and businesses rise up, I think there'll be a repopulation of the city," said Jones. "We're going to see a new era."

But given the lack of supply downtown, rent hikes are expected in the short term according to Jones.

"As we repopulate residential buildings, that means more stakeholders downtown, and more eyes on the streets," he said. "The future is bright."

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