Disaster Zone

635 Elliott Building, 200,000 Square Feet

When you have the opportunity to relocate your business--think about hazards

by Eric Holdeman / April 15, 2012

A commercial leasing firm took out a two full pages of advertisement in the Puget Sound Business Journal to showcase their property that is available for lease.  The 635 Elliott Building has 200,000 square feet of space available for leasing.  


The photo shows the location of the property in relation to downtown Seattle (it is on the north end) and the proximity to Puget Sound.  I'm sure it is a wonderful property that will be easy to get to with a couple of major projects underway that will revolutionize traffic along the waterfront and then the fix what is called the "Mercer Mess."  It will be an ideal location for a company that needs a large amount of space in a modern building situated in a nice location.  But then...


What caught my eye was the proximity of the grain terminal at Pier 86.  To service the grain terminal there are railroad tracks, and in fact the North-South mainlines for the Berlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad run right adjacent to the building being offered for lease.  


Before you move to a new location you should make sure that you understand the risks from natural and technological hazards that "might" impact your business operations.  Can a train derail and there be a hazardous chemical spill, or the grain terminal blow up?  Yes, that could happen.  Has it happened lately?  No, everything has been very safe for a long time.  As the song said, "Don't worry, be happy."  These are the technological hazards that are obvious from looking at a picture.  Given the location adjacent to Puget Sound another risk to consider is a tsunami following following a Seattle Fault Earthquake.   Again, it has been a "very long time" since the last one and if I remember right the building in question is somewhat elevated.


The reason I'm writing this is not to cast dispersion on the property being offered for lease.  Instead I just want to remind people that in most cases "you are where you are."  The risks associate with your current location were probably not taken into account when the organization located there.  But, when you move, you do have the opportunity to decide what risks you are willing to bear and to make an informed decision about the choice in properties.  For the building in question it might be a perfect location and facility for a business looking for a new property.  If the risks are acceptable, then move and make the most of being in that location.  Just--know the risks!