A trip to Seattle sees a number of items ticked off the bucket list, however, what most people don’t realise is that for the second year in a row, Seattle was appointed the crane capital of America with no other city even close, as the local building boom changing the city shows no signs of slowing down.
Driving around Seattle you will see almost a crane on every block, there is no doubt that you will not see a bundle of cranes when you travel to what is known as the city of cranes.
Seattle had 58 building cranes soaring over the skyline at the start of the month, about 60 percent more than any other U.S. town, according to a new semi-annual count from Rider Levett Bucknall, a company that monitors the smallest to the largest cranes across the globe. Seattle first topped the record a year ago, as it also had 58 cranes, and again in January, when the tally grew to 62.
Being appointed the crane capital has come to signify the rapid expansion and changing nature of this city, as mid-rises and skyscrapers pop up at where parking lots and single-story buildings once stood.
Having the title of the most of cranes will be here to stay, at least for a while. The city’s construction craze is continuing at the exact same pace as last year, while cranes are on the decline in other cities: crane counts in major cities nationwide have dropped 8 percent over the past six months.
At the last count, Seattle had only six more cranes than the next-highest city, Chicago. However, it holds a 22-crane lead over second-place Los Angeles, with Denver, Chicago and Portland just behind. Seattle has over double the cranes of San Francisco or Washington, D.C., and three times as many cranes as New York. It has more cranes than New York, Honolulu, Austin, Boston, and Phoenix combined.
At the same time, Seattle’s construction cycle does not seem like its slowing down. In the larger downtown area, 50 big projects are scheduled to start construction this year, according to the Downtown Seattle Association. An extra 99 improvements are in the pipeline for future years. And that is on top of what is already the busiest-period ever for construction in the city’s centre.
There is continued construction activity where projects which are finishing up are rapidly replaced with new projects starting up. It is projected that it’s likely to continue for at least another year or two. It mostly has to do with all the tech industry expanding quite a bit in Seattle. This is also due to the booming tourism industry and increase in visitors to the city.
Companies that supply the tower cranes say there is a shortage of both equipment and manpower, where companies need to book the cranes and their operators a few months beforehand. However, crane+hire=new buildings and infrastructure, which is why the demand for crane hire is on the rise.
Many cranes continue to be clustered in downtown and South Lake Union, but several different areas have at least one, from Ballard to Interbay and Capitol Hill to Columbia City. Some local suburbs now have cranes as well. There are just four from Bellevue, down from eight earlier in the year, though there are many large projects in the pipeline, as explained by city officials.
The building craze is driven largely by the requirement for flats to accommodate the flood of new residents pouring in, as the local economy continues to add jobs. The city is anticipating a record number of new rental units to be on the market this year as well as purchase apartment opportunities this year.
The crane count has been fairly stable in Seattle. After surging 43 percent over the last half of 2015, the neighbourhood crane tally has levelled off in the last year and a half. Seattle still lags behind Toronto, with 81 cranes, for the most in North America. As seen by visits in other international cities still have significantly more cranes than cities in the United States.