June 2014 Bar Bulletin
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June 2014 Bar Bulletin

KCBA Signs Lease for New Office Space


Move Set for August

I'm excited to share with you the news that the King County Bar Association is moving to new, built-to-order office space in August.

KCBA has signed a 10-year lease to remain at the IBM Building, 1200 Fifth Avenue, in downtown Seattle. We will be relocating from the sixth to the seventh floor once construction is complete.

The lease covers 9,666 square feet (approximately three-fourths of the floor). We will receive eight months of free rent over the first four years of the term, and a complete "build-out" of the now empty seventh floor to KCBA's specifications at the landlord's expense. In addition, several ADA accessibility improvements will be made by the landlord.

With the free rent factored in the total cost, the bar will experience no significant increase over our current annual leasing costs. We will also have minimal interruption to member services since the move will likely occur over a weekend in August.

Why did we decide to move? First, our current 10-year lease is expiring on June 30, so we began a process last summer and fall of exploring the local real estate market. We knew we needed to be in proximity to our current location, since a majority of our members are in the downtown Seattle area. We wanted to be equal distance between the county and federal courthouses, and near the main transit lines. We also knew we did not want to spend any more money on the lease than we absolutely needed.

Second, over the last 10 years the bar's need for meeting room space had grown beyond current capacity. With two new sections created and numerous new committees, most of which meet during the lunch hour, we routinely found ourselves without enough space to accommodate our members' meeting needs. While many downtown firms have been very generous in making their conference room space available to KCBA, it can be confusing to have members visiting multiple locations for bar events. Also, over the last several years we have added webcasting of our section meetings, which had proven technically challenging in the existing meeting space that was not designed to accommodate needed audio-visual requirements.

Finally, we were greatly concerned about the lack of ADA-accessible facilities for members and staff at the IBM Building, erected in 1964. There is no lobby-level entrance assistance and the principal restrooms for the disabled are in the basement of the building.

Working with the real estate brokerage firm Flinn Ferguson and the architectural design firm Allbee Romein, we looked at numerous landlord proposals and floor plans. As we did our research and considered more than a dozen building locations, the IBM Building strongly sought to convince KCBA to remain in the building. When we learned that the floor immediately above us was vacant, we began negotiations to determine if our concerns could be met and an affordable lease achieved. Early in the discussions, the IBM Building agreed to meet all our ADA requests.

In January, the Board of Trustees received a detailed presentation on our research and recommendation to accept the IBM Building's offer to provide KCBA new space on the seventh floor. The Board concurred and we signed a letter of intent at the end of January. We then began a thorough review of the amended lease documents with pro bono real estate services provided by KCBA membership pillar firm Foster Pepper. With our counsel's final review complete, the new lease was signed in April.

As many of you have experienced when executing office moves, much work remains to be done even with the lease in place. Our architect has submitted very detailed construction documents to the landlord and the City of Seattle for permitting. Next, a construction company will be hired by the landlord to begin the demolition and build-out of the seventh floor.

We are currently working with an audio-visual consultant to invest in upgrades to our web-streaming technology and presentation equipment, which I believe will allow us to increase our capacity to produce CLE programs for members. In addition, we are investing in new modular furniture for the meeting room space so it can accommodate multiple setup configurations (e.g., classroom style for CLEs and theater style for public forums).

While we are putting a significant focus on improvements to the public spaces of the new floor where members will experience much more comfortable meetings, we are also putting some resources into enhancing our staff's workplace. For example, more than 20-year-old office cubicles are being replaced with modern, efficient workstations, and the staff kitchen has been designed so that it will move from a dark internal space to a bright cheerful space with windows.

The process of considering, deciding and executing the move process has been complex and thorough. I am particularly grateful for the guidance of our Board's Move Committee (Steve Rovig, Jill Pugh and Mary Anne Vance), and most importantly for the awesome staff leadership provided by our Associate Executive Director Kathleen Jensen, who is responsible for all the details involved in this effort.

Once the dust has settled and we're unpacked in the new space, I hope you'll stop by to check it out. I am confident that our staff and the hundreds of KCBA members who attend meetings at the bar office each month will find a wonderful new bar home. I'll plan to share photos from the "reveal" this fall in the Bar Bulletin.

Andrew Prazuch is KCBA's executive director. He can be reached by email (AndrewP@kcba.org) or phone (206-267-7061).


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