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Spring District works through winter
With a 300,000-square-foot warehouse removed, the Spring District now has a clean slate — save for a little mud — for utilities and road construction for the $2.3 billion development project.
"I like to call it a disassembly as opposed to a demolition," said Greg Johnson, president of Wright Runstad & Co. of Seattle. "We did tear it down but we worked really hard to recover any usable materials from the site. … We basically recycled everything."
Demolition of the former Safeway warehouse at the corner of Northeast 12th Street and 120th Avenue Northeast was just the beginning for the 36-acre office and apartment development, which is planned to make up 16 city blocks in Bellevue once completed.
"You can start to see the pathway for new roads," Johnson said. "We're actually tearing out the concrete slabs where the roads will go and utilities."The added roadways, including a new District Way to cross 124th Avenue Northeast, are expected to be completed around March.
First to go up will be a 316-unit residential complex, which Security Properties will begin construction on this year.
"Every building is going to have retail at the ground level facing the street," Johnson said, adding focus will be on small, local retailers. "We definitely don't want to compete with Bellevue Square."
Based on the Pearl District concept in Portland, the Spring District will focus on density, which means streets will be shorter and buildings more compacted together to allow for easier pedestrian travel. On the list of transportation priorities, personal vehicles fall behind walkers, bicyclists and transit riders, said Johnson.
The developer said Wright Runstad is working closely with Sound Transit to integrate buildings — likely in the third development stage — with the 120th Station to go online there along with the rest of the East Link light rail extension in 2023.
Also slated for construction on the north and south sides of District Way are two office buildings as part of Phase One development. Johnson said his company and partner Shorenstein Properties are actively seeking large tenants to fill the more than 400,000 square feet of office space that will be available under the design before construction begins. Permits through the city are already available, he added.
"We're in a position, right now, where if we had that tenant, if we had someone signed up, we could start in a month or two," Johnson said. "That's about an 18-month construction time from when we start."
The Spring District hopes to capitalize on a boom in the tech industry and meet the demands of company tenants looking for the right space to attract promising talents. With downtown Bellevue dealing with low vacancy for office space, the Spring District should provide veteran tech firms and start-ups with more adequate accommodations, said Johnson. Wright Runstad was behind the first Microsoft campus in 1986.
On top of constructing a neighborhood marketing center for people to look at new apartment models and learn more about the Spring District, Johnson said staff are also looking at leftover parcels for inspiration.
"Were toying with one of the ideas to take one old warehouse and make it into a brewery or market hall," he said.