Sparc Apartments open, ushering in Bellevue’s Spring District

For years, the Spring District has been a bold plan for the city of Bellevue to draw residents and businesses in a transit-oriented area.

LastThursday, a major step in the project officially opened.

Sparc Apartments opened amid “the sound of progress” of construction vehicles on May 18, as elected leaders helped cut the ribbon on the live, work and play community.

Sparc has 309 apartments ranging from studios to three bedrooms, and is the first in a long line of projects in the Spring District to open its doors. The leasing office opened earlier this month and residents are already moving into the five-building complex. Studios start at $1,459 a month, and larger units go up to more than $3,400 a month.

Mayor John Stokes, Bellevue council members Conrad lee and Lynne Robinson and King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci all helped kick off Sparc’s grand opening, which has already leased more than 14,000-square feet to Bright Horizons, an early education center with a playground that is public after school lets out.

John Marasco, Chief Development Officer of investor Security Properties, said his company was excited to be on board with the Spring District.

“We could not be happier that the Spring District is finally opening its doors with the arrival of Sparc Apartments,” he said. “Our vision of shaping this new neighborhood into a destination for urban living has come into fruition.”

Sparc’s amenities, include a rooftop court yard with a putting green, a fitness center, pet washing station, bike storage and maintenance, WiFi cafe, and event space complete with a demonstration kitchen, game room and media lounge.

The Spring District is a 16-block, 36-acre development project under developer Wright-Runstad which is intended to be a transit-oriented mixed-use urban neighborhood located located on a former Safeway grocery distribution center between the Bel-Red corridor and State Route 520 in Bellevue, overlooking downtown Bellevue.

The campus, modeled after Portland’s thriving Pearl District, will be home to future retailers, restaurants, hotels and more than 2,000 residents and 13,000 employees.

Outdoor goods company REI signed a non-binding letter of agreement last year to move its headquarters from Kent to the Spring District by 2020. One of the draws for the company was a network of interconnected bike trails and green spaces Bellevue had promised.

Mayor Stokes said he was in discussions early on with REI to help reassure the co-op.

“They asked ‘are you going to make this happen?’” he said. “I said ‘you’re damn right.’”

The Grand Connection — a path of interconnected green spaces from Meydenbauer Bay Park to the Spring District through Downtown — and the Snohomish County-to-Renton Eastside Rail Corridor will be two major projects intended to improve non-vehicular transportation in the Eastside. The Spring District was partially planned around them.

Perhaps an even larger draw is the proximity of the Spring District to a proposed light rail station dedicated to the development, scheduled to open for service in 2023.

Balducci said work on improving the Bel-Red corridor started back in 2006, and the Spring District was a long time coming.

Later this year the Global Innovation Exchange – a partnership between the University of Washington, China’s Tsinghua University and Microsoft – will welcome its first students for a graduate degree program that combines project-based learning in design thinking, technology development and entrepreneurship.

Adjacent to Sparc, Security Properties is building Phase II of their Spring District mixed-use residential development. Scheduled to open in late 2018, Phase II will consist of three buildings and 279 units of studio-, one- and two-bedroom apartments. The project will include two ground-floor commercial spaces, totaling 3,700 square feet, designed to attract neighborhood oriented retailers and other service providers.