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Originally published Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 8:04 PM

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Seattle, Bellevue streets high on list of pricey office addresses

Union Street and 108th Northeast are among the nation’s most expensive office addresses. Also, Microsoft rewards a Windows hack with $100,000, and the new owner of Walt’s automotive shops is sued over a ‘lifetime’ contract.


By Seattle Times business staff

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They hardly rival Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue or Menlo Park’s Sand Hill Road, but two local streets nonetheless rank among the nation’s most expensive addresses for office space.

Seattle’s Union Street placed 10th and Bellevue’s 108th Avenue Northeast was 12th among downtown locations in a study conducted by commercial real-estate brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle.

The average asking rent for office space was $38.92 per square foot on Union Street and $38.58 on 108th Avenue Northeast at the end of June, according to the study of 40 downtown markets, which factored in taxes, insurance and other operating costs.

Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, home to hedge funds, had the highest average asking rent among downtowns: $102.02 a square foot.

If suburban office markets are included, Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, Calif., famous for its cluster of venture-capital firms feeding Silicon Valley, has the nation’s highest overall average asking rent at $111 a square foot. Several other suburban locales edged Seattle down to 15th overall.

Just how high can the rents go on the most expensive streets in the Seattle area?

On Union Street, between Second Avenue and Seventh Avenue, the top rent was $50 a square foot, in buildings like Two Union Square, said Laura Ford, a managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle. And on 108th Avenue Northeast, between Northeast Second Street and Northeast Eighth Street, it was $45.18, in buildings like Civica, she said.

The average rent on Seattle’s Union Street grew nearly 33 percent over two years, ranking the street third in rate of rent increases. The Bellevue street saw a 17 percent increase, putting it seventh.

“It’s still such a bargain if you compare it to San Francisco or New York or Silicon Valley,” said Patricia Raicht, the brokerage’s vice president of research for the Pacific Northwest.

Job growth, big leases by technology companies and investor interest in office buildings all have contributed to rising rents, she said.

“If these prices are going up, I think it’s a good trend for the whole market,” Ford said.

The list of the 10 most expensive streets overall for office space, with their average full-service rent:

1. Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, Calif.: $111

2. Fifth Avenue, Midtown Manhattan, NYC: $102

3. University Avenue, Silicon Valley, Calif.: $95

4. Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, Conn.: $93

5. Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.: $76

6. California Street, San Francisco: $62

7. Boylston Street, Boston: $60

8. Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles: $60

9. Royal Palm Way, West Palm Beach: $59

10. Newport Center Drive, Orange County: $50

— Sanjay Bhatt: sbhatt@seattletimes.com

Microsoft awards $100K for hacking

In June, Microsoft announced it would be awarding money to people who come up with truly novel ways of getting around the protections in Windows 8.1 Preview, and to those who can find critical vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer 11 Preview.

This past week the company announced it’s awarding $100,000 to James Forshaw, a security-vulnerability researcher with Context Information Security. Forshaw was awarded the Mitigation Bypass Bounty for coming up with a new exploitation technique around the protections in Windows 8.1 Preview.

(“Mitigation bypasses” are techniques of going around the protections in a system.)

Microsoft said it couldn’t offer details of the new mitigation bypass technique until the company addresses it.

Katie Moussouris, senior security strategist lead with Microsoft Trustworthy Computing, said the company is “thrilled to receive this qualifying Mitigation Bypass Bounty submission within the first three months of our bounty offering.”

Forshaw was already among those who won part of the $28,000 bug bounty awarded for finding IE11 Preview vulnerabilities.

Microsoft said it pays a much higher bounty for a new attack technique than for an individual bug because “learning about new mitigation bypass techniques helps us develop defenses against entire classes of attack.”

— Janet I. Tu: jtu@seattletimes.com

Meineke sued over Walt’s vow of ‘lifetime’ deals

Is the nationwide company that bought the longtime local automotive chain Walt’s trying to shortchange customers on their oil change?

That’s the claim in a lawsuit that seeks class-action status on behalf of drivers who bought what Walt’s called its “Lifetime Premium Oil Change and Vehicle Safety” service contract.

The agreement, which cost anywhere from $100 to $200 at the 19 Walt’s Auto Care Centers, was good for four annual oil changes at no additional cost for as long as the owner had the car, according to the suit, filed Sept. 27 in King County Superior Court.

Walt’s sold the agreements for about 20 years until it was acquired last spring by Meineke, a unit of Charlotte, N.C.-based Driven Brands.

Last month customer David Munn, of Puyallup, was told the company would no longer honor the contract he’d purchased in 2008.

Attorney Matthew Metz, who filed the suit, says the number of affected customers is likely in the thousands: “It was a very popular program, because it was a great deal.”

The lifetime contracts likely served as a loss leader for Walt’s, he speculates. “There’s no way it could have been profitable standing on its own,” he says. “The whole point was to have ongoing relationships with customers.”

Meineke has not filed its answer to the lawsuit, and did not respond to requests for comment.

— Rami Grunbaum: rgrunbaum@seattletimes.com



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