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Originally published Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Seattle seen as one of best '08 commercial real-estate markets

Pacific Northwest Real-estate experts expect Seattle will be the second-best commercial real-estate market in the nation in 2008, according...

Pacific Northwest

Commercial real estate

Real-estate experts expect Seattle will be the second-best commercial real-estate market in the nation in 2008, according to a recent report.

The Urban Land Institute, a growth think tank, and the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers surveyed more than 600 landowners, developers, lenders and other industry professionals for their 29th annual "Emerging Trends in Real Estate" forecast.

The experts ranked Seattle second only to New York City in overall prospects for commercial and multifamily investment and development. Seattle placed first in industrial, office, rental apartment and for-sale home development, and second in retail and hotel development.

"Seattle is developing into an exciting 24-hour city smack-dab on key Asian shipping routes, and its brainpower economy diversifies... " the report says. "[Seattle's] multifamily and industrial sectors rate as the leading buy candidates in the entire survey."

But "abysmal traffic congestion strangles commuters," it adds.

Tully's Coffee

$3.3M loss reported for 2nd quarter

Tully's Coffee posted a net loss of $3.3 million for its second fiscal quarter ended Sept. 30, widening 46 percent from a $2.3 million loss in the same quarter last year. Sales rose 10.3 percent to $18.2 million. Comparable store sales increased 7.6 percent from a year ago.

During the second quarter, Tully's opened two new company-owned stores and added 11 new franchised stores, bringing its total number of U.S. shops to 142, up from 123 a year earlier.

This summer, Tully's postponed a much-awaited initial public offering, citing stock market turmoil. It still hopes to complete the IPO, the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Wednesday.

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Meanwhile, the company owes $3.8 million to Northrim Funding Services, a credit line that is regularly renewed. Earlier this year, Tully's began borrowing from Benaroya Capital and currently owes more than $5 million that must be paid back by Sept. 1. That debt is guaranteed personally by Tully's founder Tom O'Keefe.

Pacific Northwest

Levitz Furniture

Tukwila store to close by Jan. 9

Levitz Furniture has notified Washington state's Employment Security Department that it plans to close its Tukwila store by Jan. 9, affecting 60 workers.

The privately held company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week in New York in an effort to stay in business despite a lack of cash. It is the third time New York-based Levitz has sought court protection in just over 10 years.

Labor Ready

New name to be TrueBlue Inc.

Labor Ready, the Tacoma-based provider of temporary workers to fill maintenance, construction and freight-handling jobs, will change its name to TrueBlue Inc. to reflect its market focus.

In conjunction with taking the new name, Labor Ready said it plans to change its New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol to TBI from LRW, effective Dec. 18. The company was started as Labor Ready in 1989.

The new name "brings focus to our vision to be the leading provider of blue-collar staffing," CEO Steve Cooper said in a statement.

Nation and World

Vought Aircraft

Workers back Machinists union

Just over half of the production and maintenance employees at the Vought Aircraft plant in North Charleston, S.C., voted in favor of union representation, forcing the Boeing supplier to the bargaining table and marking a potential rare South Carolina victory for organized labor.

Vought said an election was Oct. 26 and 27 at its local manufacturing site. Of the 127 workers who participated, 67 agreed to be represented by the Machinists union, with the rest opposing it.

The company, which is making major portions of Boeing's 787 fuselage, disclosed the results Tuesday.

Ford

Workers approve new 4-year pact

Ford no longer can complain about being hamstrung by high U.S. labor costs that prevent it from making money domestically.

The automaker's hourly workers on Wednesday ratified a historic four-year contract that sets lower pay for new hires and puts Ford's huge retiree health care liability into a trust run by the United Auto Workers.

The UAW represents about 54,000 Ford workers, and 79 percent of those voted in favor of the pact, the union said Wednesday.

Federal Reserve

Bernanke promises more openness

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday the Fed will tell the country four times a year — not twice — what its projections are for the economy. And when it does so, it will say what it thinks the business environment will be for the next three years — not two.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff, McClatchy Newspapers, The Associated Press and Bloomberg News

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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