Google has decided they love their 4 year old Kirkland building so much, they are going to start construction this year to double the size of the campus and hire 1,000 new employees. The current Google Kirkland campus has approximately 600 employees and the new 185,000 square feet addition will bring their work force total to close to 1,600 employees. This is unbelievable news for Kirkland’s economy as well as its sagging real estate market. Washington Governor Jay Inslee said, “This is a place to innovate. It is something to celebrate; for all Washingtonians to celebrate.” The Kirkland campus builds programs such as Google Voice, Google Plus, Google Talk, parts of the Chrome browser, as well as the Cloud computing platform. The rise of a global giant in Kirkland is something state leaders are ecstatic about. Kirkland City Manager Kurt Triplett said, “We are over the Moon.”
Googles Kirkland campus was once a downtrodden ‘brownfield’ site so polluted some were concerned nothing would ever be built there. Once a US Navy warehouse, the 7.2 acres of land the complex sits on is now a thriving, expanding epicenter of the cities crown jewel tenant. Before expansion, the current Google campus was recently appraised for $47 million. Google currently generates a staggering $3.5 billion impact on our state and one would only assume that number will enhance greatly with the expansion doubling their campus size and adding 1,000 new, highly paid employees. And an influx of well paid, hi-tech sector jobs is likely to improve the city’s sagging real estate market — now weighed down by a large inventory of expensive homes. This is great news for both current and prospective Kirkland real estate ownership as economic growth and a population rise in well-paid parties will only increase property values and make Kirkland a more visible and viable place to live. Having many real estate options close to or on the Lake Washington shores is a huge feature that drives up real estate values.
There will always be some concerns when growth of this magnitude occurs, especially in a smaller community with existing traffic issues. However, Google has promised to do its due diligence on making sure traffic problems are considered and handled in a matter that is good for the community as a whole. Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride said, “Some neighborhood groups were pretty concerned about the congestion this could cause on some streets. Google has spoken very carefully with them, and they’ve made adjustments. Googlers are a big part of the community at this point. They live in our neighborhoods, visit our restaurants and get involved.” Also helping traffic matters is the fact that Kirkland was the first city in Washington to adopt a Complete Streets ordinance, essentially ensuring pedestrian and bicycle routes are considered as a part of any road construction and improvement planning projects. Keeping traffic concerns alleviated will increase the chances of the Google employees residing in Kirkland and helping with that sagging high end real estate market, which in turn will also increase the values of all other properties as well. Kirkland has a current population of 81,787 people, the sixth largest city in King County and the 12th largest city in the state of Washington. Kirkland is 18 square miles within the city limits and the median income is a robust $81,927. Kirkland’s median household income is $101,164. Google is not the only large business that resides in Kirkland. Among the others helping the city’s economy and housing market are: Inrix, Kenworth, EvergreenHealth, The Heathman Hotel, and Nintendo. These are the largest of Kirkland’s 4,842 registered businesses.
Google is also very conscious of the communities it resides in and has taken steps to give back and help as much as it can. Just last year, Google raised over $23,000 for local non-profit organizations and has plans to expand those efforts in upcoming years. Google has also developed a Google RISE award that gives college scholarships to local high school students who want to participate in local colleges STEM programs than enhance the skill level of local students who strive to one day call themselves a Googler. There are 15 college institutions within 15 miles of Kirkland city limits, giving people living and working within the Kirkland community many options and degrees they can achieve. Kirkland residences are generally a very intelligent, highly schooled demographic. This usually happens in a very affluent area, however the City of Kirkland’s Economic Development Office approximates that 95% of Kirkland’s population has graduated from high school, and 40% of the population holds a college degree.
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