Eleven years after Kemper Development Company opened Lincoln Square in Bellevue, the group is ready for its expansion of the development to take off. The $1 billion Lincoln Square expansion is moving forward, as developer and owner Kemper has now leased 90 percent of the available office portion of their 1.5 million square foot expansion. Bound by NE 4th and NE 6th on Bellevue Way, the addition will include top of the line office space, a hotel, residential units and plenty of retail space, built to Silver LEED certification standards.
The expansion boasts a whopping 1.5 million square feet of leasable space, 710,000 square feet of which will include Class A Premier office space. There’s also a heavy presence of retail in the expansion, similar to the original Lincoln Square. Shoppers will have over 180,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space to explore. In case you thought parking in the busy area might be difficult, no need to worry. The tower includes over 2,200 strategically thought out parking stalls across six levels, with a price tag of $70,000 per stall.
Jim Melby, president of Kemper, who spoke at a Bellevue Downtown Association meeting on March 28th, said the retail portion of the expansion is like no other. “It’s the synergy that retail creates,” Melby said. “Retail is a catalyst that makes everything else more vibrant. Our office buildings tend to do better because of the retail, our hotels are a better place to stay because of the retail,” he added. He also said that the play of the retail and its effect on hotels and office space is what the expansion is all about. “It’s that dynamic that really defines us and that’s what our new project is really just continuing to supplement,” he said.
The hotel portion of the expansion will add 245 rooms to the downtown Bellevue area and an additional 218 luxury apartment units. Melby said these homes are larger than average for the market, at 1,400 square feet. But with more square footage comes a higher price, which Melby described as “pretty expensive.”
Taking into account the office, hotel and retail portions of the expansion, Melby said as far as he knows, this is the largest private project he can think of. “I can’t think of another private project, not a government project, that’s been that big in this area,” he said. “My point is, it’s a huge project and we didn’t have one square foot preleased before we started,” Melby said. “But it’s worked out pretty well,” he said jokingly.
Some of the tenants of the retail portion include Soul Cycle, which is currently open and operating, a number of restaurants, a speakeasy style bar, a 21 and up movie theatre with six screens, a tavern and a Nordstrom Rack. Melby also said there will be an entertainment concept but couldn’t announce who or what exactly that will be.
Turning to the office space, the tower is already 90 percent leased, leaving only two floors available, though Melby said since the time the presentation slide deck was submitted, there had been activity for that space as well saying his information was already outdated, that’s how quickly things are moving. Looking at tenants that official leases signed, the lineup includes Ascend, which is taking up just a little over 22,000 square feet; Steve Ballmer, taking up over 25,000 square feet; Pokemon, which is leasing four floors with 100,147 square feet; Samsung with over 24,000 square feet; Stifel Nicholaus with over 14,000 square feet; Valve is leasing floors 11-19 with a total of 223,785 square feet; Epic Games has almost 25,000 square feet; WeWork has nearly 81,500 square feet and DA Davidson is taking a little over 13,500 square feet. Apex and One Medical are also leasing space in the tower. Melby also said two more leases are pending.
While Melby spoke about all the buzz around the project and its tenants, Ted Herb, president of GLY Construction, spoke on the sustainable aspects of the project, aiming to reduce waste and work more efficiently.
“Everything we do is centered around, ‘how do we reduce waste?’” he said. To do that, Herb said technology was key. “Technology, basically, the way we are leveraging it is to reduce the waiting time in getting information out to people.” He said they are working hard to find ways to use technology for quicker information and to do that, they’ve incorporated some of the newest gadgets.
To reduce wait time and inconveniences, GLY utilized augmented reality and virtual reality to better visualize the potential of the space. They also used spherical cameras, which allowed them to look at the status of a room at any given moment, with 360 degree views. The group incorporated a faro scanner to envision what a space would look like with additional structures such as stairs. They also gave out iPads and other devices to get information in real time, another way to reduce wait time and work more efficiently. Herb didn’t underplay the potential safety elements of using iPads on a worksite and said they have advised crews to not walk and use the device, equating it to texting and driving.