In a long-suspected move, outdoors outfitting company Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) announced Tuesday that it was moving its headquarters to Bellevue.
REI has been located in Kent since 1988, but said it had outgrown that location. The company plans to move to Bellevue’s The Spring District by 2020.
According to a release, the company has signed a non-binding letter of intent to develop eight acres of land in the The Spring District — a 36-acre mixed-use urban neighborhood located between the Bel-Red corridor and State Route 520 in Bellevue, east of Downtown.
The non-binding agreement is not a formal deal. Either party can pull out at any time without penalty. REI will know whether The Spring District is a good fit by the end of this summer, a release said.
“With our new campus, we’re looking to create a hub for employees to come together to dream and scheme about life outdoors,” it reads. “The Spring District gives us the opportunity to create a unique space for the co-op, where our employees can gather and share our love for the outdoors. We envision an accessible, energizing space that is within reach of some great local outdoor spaces.”
Wright Runstad & Company, a Seattle-based office building developer, owns The Spring District.Its President, Greg Johnson, said the sustainable goals of the property and REI were a match.
“We are thrilled to enter into this arrangement with REI at the Spring District,” he said. “Wright Runstad and Shorenstein Properties have planned The Spring District from the beginning to embrace sustainability, walkability and regional transit and trail connections; all key values that we share with REI.”
The first phase of The Spring District is underway, with more than 300 apartments under construction. REI will develop about 20 percent of the property, which is designed to be open to multiple forms of transit as well as pedestrian and cyclist paths.
The Sound Transit East Link extension plans to open a light rail station at The Spring District by 2023.
REI, founded in Seattle in 1938, employs more than 1,100 people at its current Kent location. As an outdoors equipment co-op, it was spurred on by Bellevue’s many parks and city leaders committing to improve congestion.
“…Flexible workspaces, better technology and improved transit options will be crucial components of our planning process,” said the press release. “We are encouraged that the region’s community leaders are planning to invest billions of dollars to improve local transit options, including miles of bike lanes.”