Demolition will start next week for the first phase in a giant real estate project in Bellevue, Wash. — ultimately slated to span some 5.3 million square feet of office, retail, hotel and housing space across 16 city blocks.
In short, it’s a $2.3 billion bet on the long-term strength of the Seattle region’s technology economy. Tech companies and their workers are expected fuel much of the demand for the space in what will be known as the Spring District.
“We are very bullish on the tech market,” said Greg Johnson, the president of Wright Runstad & Co., the company developing the project. ”The poster child for that is Amazon but we see it across the board.”
The developer says the pedestrian- and bike-oriented project will break from tradition in car-friendly Bellevue. Johnson likened the plans to Portland’s Pearl District.
“You have to toss out any notion of what the Eastside is like,” he said, adding later, “We’re not popular with some of the old Eastside interests, but that’s OK.”
The project will be developed block-by-block over the course of 15 years, with a light rail station ultimately connecting the community to Microsoft, downtown Bellevue and Seattle. The property is currently home to operations including Amazon Fresh’s delivery trucks and the Microsoft Connector bus service, which will be able to remain for the time being.
No commercial tenants have been announced for the project yet, but the phased approach will allow the developer to proceed as companies sign leases, without building speculatively.
Wright Runstad, which built Microsoft’s original Redmond campus, says the new offices will be built for the modern sensibilities of tech workers, with open collaborative spaces and environmentally friendly buildings in what will ultimately be an urban environment.