Lincoln Square expansion a go

Kemper Freeman prepares to make remarks at the Wednesday groundbreaking ceremony for the Lincoln Square expansion on Bellevue Way.

Gold shovel in hand, Kemper Freeman lobbed a few clumps of earth into a wheel barrel and quickly apologized for any added work it might create for the crew that will be responsible for constructing Lincoln Square 2, which marked the beginning of the $1.2 billion Bellevue Collection expansion on Wednesday.

The Lincoln Square expansion by the Kemper Development Company includes an office tower with 700,000 square feet of office space and 177,000 square feet for retail, dining and entertainment. Another tower between the office building and Westin Bellevue will be for a 244-room designer hotel with 250 luxury high-rise apartments. The expansion is planned to open fall 2016.

The Bellevue Collection expansion will add two million square feet of retail, office, hotel, dining and residential space once work is completed along Bellevue Way. A three-story retail podium with two 17-story residential towers is proposed for the Bellevue Square expansion. The northern tower will be residential only while the southern tower will have 204 hotel rooms on the lower 11 levels, with a total of 239 residential units. The total square footage for the project is 766,579 with 266,856 square feet in the retail podium.

Freeman announced during Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony the construction will quickly create 4,000 new jobs in the city, teasing the pay will be more than the $15 an hour jobs “that seem to be so popular these days.” As a nod to Bellevue Deputy Mayor Kevin Wallace, who joined in the ceremonial shoveling, Freeman added the city will gain $120 million in tax revenue from the project before future tenants even start paying rent.

“It shows you we’re not so bright, but the city likes those stories,” he said.