On Monday, Sept. 16, Wright Runstad & Co. of Seattle and Shorenstein Properties of San Francisco will break ground on its long-anticipated $2.3 billion Spring District project. The 36-acre site will include apartments, office buildings, restaurants, hotels and when done will encompass 16 city blocks.
“It’s the largest high-density development attempted in the U.S. in decades,” said Greg Johnson, president of Wright Runstad, which also was responsible for the first Microsoft campus in 1986.
The demolition of the former Safeway warehouse at the corner of Northeast 12th Street and 120th Avenue Northeast, to begin Monday, will be quickly succeeded by construction of roads and utilities.
The Spring District is located in the Bel-Red neighborhood, recently rezoned for transit-oriented development. When service begins in 2023, a light rail station will carry passengers across Lake Washington from Seattle, through the Spring District and on toward Microsoft’s campus.
“It’s more than a theme, it’s a driver for how we’re thinking about the Spring District as a new neighborhood,” said Johnson of the design’s focus on such accessibility.
The project has been in the works since 2007 and with technology an increasing economic engine in the Puget Sound region, Johnson said he’s heard time and time again from company tenants that the industry needs a built environment to retain and attract talent. That means building residential and office space that meets the needs of today’s employees, like lockers, showers, storage for bikes and a spacious setting, says Johnson.
“Potential employees are looking for urban settings with walkability where they can ride their bike, [live] in close proximity to work, and [with] access to good schools. That’s what we’re really [hoping for] in this 36 acres in Bellevue. We’re crafting a neighborhood, not just a building.”
Earlier this month, the Lake Bellevue Water Quality Association and the Lake Bellevue Village Homeowners Association formed the Lake Bellevue Subbasin Alliance with Wright Runstad and Shorenstein Properties, agreeing to more closely monitor the environment of the lake and the surrounding area while ensuring neighborhood cohesion.
“That was part of a larger outreach effort we had going back to even before the Bel-Red zoning changed in 2009,” Johnson said. “We’ve reached out to all of the properties around the Spring District to understand how we can coexist and enhance each other’s environment…It’s something that was very important for us to put in place. We didn’t just want to be talking in the same room, wondering what the other was thinking.”
Next year Security Properties will begin construction on a 316-unit residential complex. Johnson said he expects other tenants will align as construction gets underway. The Eastside is already recognized as a burgeoning tech hub. On Wednesday F5 Networks announced plans to open a satellite office in Bellevue; and earlier this month Google broke ground on its Kirkland expansion.
The first stages of the Spring District project will include two office buildings with 490,000 square feet.
“We’re trying to respond to that demand and we’re thrilled to move out of the planning phase,” said Johnson.