By Meghan Hall
Developers are still hedging their bets on the future of office in downtown Bellevue, extending the city’s pipeline of anticipated projects and development boom. Columbia Pacific Advisors, which defines itself as an alternative investment firm,” is moving forward with plans to construct a 16-story commercial office tower with 349,021 gross square feet. Upon completion, the development team hopes the office tower will integrate well into Bellevue’s rapidly heightening skyline.
The project is located at 200 112th Ave. NE. The project will include 315,000 square feet of designated office uses, 2,910 square feet of ground-level retail and active-use spaces and below-grade parking. A rooftop garden and a number of patios are also outlined as part of the project plans.
Designed by Compton Design Office and Kendall/Heaton Architecture, the project team hopes to “design an office tower which integrates the structural system with the façade to create a unique and attractive addition to the Bellevue skyline.”
Design documents indicate that the design of the building is also driven by the desire to create a strong visual interest and terminus to NE 2nd Street, as well as the intention to build upon Bellevue’s increasingly dynamic public realm. The preferred massing concept is entitled “Riverdance,” and will be comprised of layered open spaces, dual volumes and an anchoring podium. The south side of the tower will be oriented to complement the street façade along NE 2nd, while retail and lobbies will be positioned to activate public streets.
The tower will be modern in design and clad in a mix of spandrel and vision glasses, dark bronze metal panels, light brushed metal panels and gamma stone. A double height curtain wall system and integral storefront doors will be used along the podium.
Currently, the project is in the design phase, with Columbia Pacific Advisors submitting its application for design review mid-September. Phasing for the project is unclear. However, when finished, the project will add to an explosion of development across the Eastside. According to a recent third quarter report released by Broderick Group, there is currently 4.3 million square feet of office under construction, 96 percent of which is pre-leased to “best in class” tenants.
Bellevue has garnered the bulk of that development. Between Summit 3, which totals 370,000 square feet, 555 108th at 970,000 square feet and West Main at more than one million square feet, 3.1 million square feet of office is under construction in Bellevue’s central business district for Amazon alone. Currently, Amazon only occupies 354,000 square feet at Centre 425 in downtown Bellevue, but is expected to bring more than 30,000 employees to the submarket over the next several years. Amazon will be downtown Bellevue’s largest tenant once its space is completed and will increase office inventory from 10 million square feet to 14 million square feet alone.
“The city skyline will literally be transformed over the next few years, especially taking into account the new 600-foot height limit for towers, which is 50 percent taller than the previous zoning,” Broderick Group notes.
And, despite COVID-19, Eastside markets such as Bellevue’s CBD have become a safe haven for investors. While investment activity into the Eastside did slow during the first few months of the pandemic, investors are still keen on making their mark.
“As the leasing world questions the future of office, the capital markets continue to place bets on the long- term expectation towards a return to normalcy in the Eastside Office Market,” said Broderick Group.
Office land prices have doubled in the last three years in downtown Bellevue, going for $120 to $140 per buildable foot. Developers are likely to continue to look past the current pandemic environment, especially due to not just historically low Class A vacancy, but the belief that the market will have recovered by the time construction is completed in several years’ time. Broderick Group largely supports this notion, stating that underlying long-term fundamentals will support companies moving ahead with their project plans.
Columbia Pacific Advisors declined to comment for this story.