First Bellevue Tower topped out; third of condos sold

A year and a half ago, Gerding Edlen Development Co. began the demolition of the old Puget Sound Energy headquarters to make way for the twin condominium tower project known as the Bellevue Towers. The Portland firm relocated Scott Eaton to work out of their new Bellevue-based sales office to oversee the eco-friendly towers come to fruition.

Scott Eaton

A year and a half ago, Gerding Edlen Development Co. began the demolition of the old Puget Sound Energy headquarters to make way for the twin condominium tower project known as the Bellevue Towers. The Portland firm relocated Scott Eaton to work out of their new Bellevue-based sales office to oversee the eco-friendly towers come to fruition.

On May 14, a topping-out ceremony celebrated the structural completion of the South Tower. The 43-story glass tower reached its full height, making it the tallest residential high-rise project in the Puget Sound region due to the elevated grade of the building site. Already, a third of the condos have been sold with construction not scheduled to be completed until November.

“The skyline is changing every day,” Mayor Grant Degginger noted as he stood atop the high-rise tower with views spanning the entire city. “Downtown Bellevue has not only become a place where 40,000 people work everyday, but also now live. It’s one of the fastest growing neighborhoods.”

The energy-efficient towers combine elegant design, thanks to project designers Mulvanny G2 Architecture and GBD Architects, and environmentally conscience building practices. Gerding Edlen Development has an impressive track record when it comes to green building. According to Eaton, the company has produced 18 LEED certified projects, the most of any private developer in North America.

Aiming to achieve LEED Gold Certification, the developers have taken on the challenge of creating a project that incorporates sustainable practices to create a healthier living environment.

“All of our projects pursue the highest LEED rating possible because that is just what we do,” Eaton explained. “We started in that process well in advance of other developers, all because of the belief of our founders and especially Dennis Wilde who is one of our senior project managers for Gerding Edlen Development. This will most likely be a gold-rated property and as far as I know it’s the first gold-rated highrise multi-family project in the state.”

Bellevue Tower residents will be encouraged to hit the pavement and take advantage of the high-rise’s centralized location and convenient positioning near the Bellevue Transit Center. To filter out damaging UV rays and let in more natural light, the developers took advantage of premium window systems that use high-performance, insulated “low-e” glass windows. To bring nature close to home, a green roof and urban garden will sit on the fifth floor to minimize rainwater run off. The Bellevue Towers also will improve indoor air quality by eliminating the use of interior paints and material with harmful volatile organic compounds.

The eco-luxury condominium project pierces the skyline on the corner of 106th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Fourth Street. The project includes a 42-story North Tower and a 43-story South Tower located on 2.5 acres and includes 550 residential condos. The condo prices range from $400,000 to upwards of $10,000,000 for the 64,000-square-foot penthouse of each tower. The average resident will pay around $1.5 million to call the Bellevue Towers home.

For Gerding Edlen Development, their move into Bellevue came at just the right time. The $438 million urban home project is just one of many new residential projects that are shifting downtown Bellevue from a shopping and business core to a walkable 24-hour neighborhood. Keeping up with what is quickly becoming a dynamic city, the project will go beyond traditional housing by offering a neighborhood with convenient access to the arts and entertainment.

“Communities in projects like this are lively,” Eaton explained, referring to the Towers as not just another building, but a personality as well. “These are just two glass towers but hopefully at the end of the day they will become timeless.”

Additionally, the towers will include 16,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space that will house three new restaurants open to residents and the public. Larry Kurofsky, the owner of the Purple Cafe and Wine Bar restaurants plans to bring a wide selection of wines from around the world to Bellevue. A new Purple Cafe and Wine Bar is set to open in November of 2008 and will occupy 6,200 square feet, offering more than 70 different wines by the glass. Additionally, Kurofsky and his wife, Tabitha, plan to open Barrio, a restaurant that will embrace traditional Mexican dishes with a dash of seasonal Northwest style. A third restaurant, centered around a concept of a neighborhood-inspired cafe, is in the works, but has yet to be named. The cafe will reintroduce the fresh from the oven appeal of baked-goods, pastries, and deserts all baked on-site daily.

According to Eaton, construction of both towers is moving along on schedule and should be complete in April 2009.

“To me it seemed like it made sense as a location for us to try to grow and use some of our expertise to come into this market,” Eaton said. “We’re delivering a quality level that I think people are appreciating now as they see the building near completion.”

Lindsay Larin can be reached at llarin@reporternewspapers.com or 425-453-4602.

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