By Jack Stubbs
One of the area’s most beloved and established companies, founded in Seattle in 1938, has just made big strides in furthering its already central presence in the Puget Sound region.
On Monday, October 2nd, outdoor co-op REI pulled the trigger on its purchase of a property in Bellevue slated as its new headquarters location. The outdoor outfitter paid $49.3 million, or roughly $70 per square foot for an existing 700,000 square foot industrial property, according to public records filed with King County. The seller was Wright Runstad & Company, a Seattle-based real estate manager and developer, which has also been retained as the developer on the project moving forward.
According to an agreement between the two companies, REI will be building a building of at least 370,000 square feet on the location. The agreement also stipulates that in the event that REI does not begin construction on the first phase of the project by December 31st 2020, Wright Runstad will have the option to repurchase the property from REI. The company has also agreed that in the event that they seek to sell or transfer the property prior to the completion of the first phase, Wright Runstad will have first purchase rights on the development, as well. These stipulations were included as part of the agreement in order to protect Wright Runstad’s investment interest in Bellevue’s Spring District, according to the document.
The property, which today is a warehouse distribution facility, is located at 1501 124th Ave NE in Bellevue’s Spring District. It was built in 1958 and is comprised of 700,324 square feet of mainly industrial space. The warehouse is currently comprised of four sections: an automotive center, a storage warehouse, a material storage shed and a food storage warehouse, according to the property report. The asset is set on 8 acres of land. REI’s purchase of the property marks one more step at the end of a protracted relocation process for the company.
In March 2016, the recreation retailer announced that it was planning to leave its long-time home in Kent to build a new headquarters in Bellevue’s Spring District, signing a letter of intent to purchase the property from Wright Runstad. In October 2016, REI announced that it had finalized an agreement with Wright Runstad to relocate its headquarters to Bellevue.
In March 2017—one year on from when the company initially announced its intentions to relocate its headquarters—REI submitted the designs for its new campus to the City of Bellevue for Design Review, with the review process typically taking between 9 and 12 months.
The company’s vision—as articulated in the submitted project plans—is to create a hub that is accessible, sustainable and connected to the local outdoor community. The sustainable design decisions include that the building is positioned for optimal solar orientation; that windows will be strategically placed to maximize daylight in the workplace; and that the surrounding landscape will feature edible garden species and native vegetation. The company also hopes that its new Bellevue-based headquarters serve as a hub both for REI and the surrounding community, reflecting the company’s aim of investing in the local community and the greater Puget Sound Region.
The purchase of the new property from Wright Runstad marks a series of relocations for the outdoor co-op over the last couple of years.
In April 2017, REI sold its Redmond store for $9.2 million to Bellevue-based PMF Investments after nearly two decades in Redmond. In early 2015, the company announced that it would be moving from Redmond back to Bellevue, where it had moved in 1994 after opening its first location in Seattle. In 1998, REI moved to a two-story, 35,000 square foot site at the Redmond Town Center. In fall 2016, REI moved back to Bellevue from its Redmond location at 16635 NE 76th St. Currently, the Bellevue REI store sits in the Bellevue Central Shopping Center at 410 116th Ave. NE, occupying more than 40,000 square feet of space.
Wright Runstad is an active developer in the Seattle region, having developed over 16 million square feet of office space over its 45-year history, according to its web site. The company’s portfolio includes buildings in Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Olympia, Tumwater, Portland, Boise, Los Angeles and Anchorage.
Founded in 1938 in Seattle, REI has deep roots in the Puget Sound community. In 2016, the co-op invested nearly $750,000 in outdoor places and causes in and around the Puget Sound area, including grants to Northwest Avalanche Center, Washington Trails Association and Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.
With the purchase of the roughly 700,000 square foot space from Wright Runstad & Company, REI will hoping to bring its long-awaited project development plans to fruition.