Freeman: Lincoln Square expansion includes W Hotel

Kemper Freeman announced Monday a W Hotel will be part of the $1.2-billion Bellevue Collection expansion

Kemper Freeman used Lincoln Square’s new studio showcase room Monday to announce a W Hotel will be a significant feature of the Lincoln Square expansion when it opens in 2017.

“It was a lot of lobbying – a lot of selling –  that really brought him around to being a hip W follower,” said Carla Murray, vice president of Northwest operations for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, which operates W Hotels and the Westin at Lincoln Square. “That made the people back at my headquarters very happy.”

“I’m on the outer edge of who stays there, at 73 (years old),” Freeman later remarked of W Hotels’ young, techy clientele.

The luxury hotel will have 245 guestrooms in 14 stories of the first tower adjacent to Lincoln Square, and sit on top of three levels of retail, restaurants and theaters, Freeman said, with 2,200 parking stalls in six levels of underground parking below that. Upscale apartments will occupy the upper levels above the W Bellevue, Freeman said, adding 10 percent of those units are already preleased.

The parking structure is expected to be completed in time for a June construction start for the W Hotel in order to open in spring 2017.

Kemper Freeman Company will own the hotel, Starwood will operate it and the two will share the profits as negotiated under a long-term contract, said Anthony Ingham, vice president of W Hotels Worldwide in North America.

The W Bellevue design concept was inspired by Bellevue’s past – first as a farming community and later Seattle suburb – to its present, said Dan Meyers, KDC senior vice president of design and construction.

“Bellevue has grown very quickly from that country environment, to suburbia, to a very fast-paced growing urban environment that’s very fueled by technology and gets down to the bottom line as to why we’re doing this, why we’re bringing a W here. As Kemper mentioned, it’s all about the customer, and the customer that we see coming to Bellevue is that creative class.”

It’s this creative class of young (28-40) worldwide business entrepreneurs and tech workers that is expected to sustain the W Bellevue, Ingham said, acknowledging weekend lodgings in the city are not known to be high.

“We may have to create a weekend market by the things you can do in Bellevue,” Ingham said. “The (Bellevue Square) Mall will make a big difference.”

The W Bellevue is the second W Hotel in the Puget Sound region, the W Seattle operating for more than 15 years on Fourth Avenue. Ingham said he doesn’t think there is a market for a second W Seattle.

“Bellevue and Seattle are really different markets,” he said.