The number one retail destination in the Pacific Northwest, the Bellevue Collection consisting of Bellevue Square, Bellevue Place and Lincoln Square, is expanding its footprint by 41 acres to serve even more guests and customers. CEO Kemper Freeman Jr. of Bellevue-based Kemper Development Company spoke to the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Seattle King County chapter on Monday to share his insight on the project.
The project, which will add another two million square feet to the Bellevue Collection, will also include expansions to both Lincoln Square and Bellevue Square. Lincoln Square’s expansion, expected to be completed this year, will add an additional 1.5 million square feet to the existing plaza, doubling its current size. The project includes 700,000 square feet of Class A office space, 180,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space, and a 245-room hotel with 231 luxury residential units above. According to Freeman, the grand opening of the hotel and residential space, The W, is scheduled for spring 2017.
Bellevue is no longer the bedroom community of Seattle
The Bellevue Square expansion will add a total of 500,000 square feet, to include luxury retail space, a 140-room luxury boutique hotel, 250 luxury residential units, a rooftop garden and a sky bridge connection to Lincoln Square’s expansion. “Instead of building one shopping center and walking off, we’ve decided to build an exceptional one and to continue to make it better and better,” said Freeman.
According to Freeman, one of the key components that has led to Bellevue’s continued growth and success is that property tax rates in the city of Bellevue are the lowest in the state of Washington. “As a result, all new projects are immune to the listing rate limits so they don’t pay the full rate. What this has done is cause commercial development to become an absolute boom for Bellevue, and for everyone who lives here,” he said.
According to Kemper’s statistics, the population of Seattle was found to be approximately the same as that of the entire Eastside; Seattle has approximately 650,000 people, which is comparable in size to the Eastside’s approximate 630,000. “Seattle is as a super regional market with eight to 10 million people coming in and out of Seattle all of the time who work, shop and visit the city. It is a marketplace for the entire Northwest,” he said. Freeman also added that Bellevue, on the other hand, is classified as a sub regional market.
When comparing retail and restaurant sales, Freeman stated that the results show downtown Bellevue generated $40 million more than downtown Seattle last year. He added that when comparing retail and restaurant sales for Seattle to the Eastside, with their comparable populations, it was found that Seattle generated $4.5 billion in sales, compared to $8.9 billion in sales for the Eastside. “Bellevue is no longer the bedroom community of Seattle,” he concluded.
Kemper Development is a family-owned organization that has left its legacy in the city of Bellevue by building the Bellevue Collection. It started as a 16-store shopping center that emerged in the post-World War II era, when the Eastside contained a population of only 25,000. Today the shopping center is a retail destination that welcomes over 18 million annual visitors.