Outdoor recreation retailer REI is planning to leave its longtime home in Kent and build a new headquarters in Bellevue’s Spring District. The company signed a letter of intent on Tuesday to purchase a land parcel for an undisclosed amount from the District’s developer, Wright Runstad & Company, and joint venture partner, a fund managed by San Francisco-based Shorenstein Properties. REI is in discussion with Wright Runstad to remain on the project as the build-to-suit developer. The arrangement was confirmed by Forrest Carman, a spokesperson for Wright Runstad and other sources who have knowledge of the discussions. REI was not available for comment.
The Spring District, a former industrial district located in the Bel Red Corridor in northeastern Bellevue, is part of a strategy by the city to attract and retain technology companies. The 36-acre development is centered on a future light rail station that will connect Microsoft’s corporate headquarters campus to the east, and downtown Seattle to the west. A full compliment of office, educational, residential, hotel, restaurant and retail space is planned for the District’s 16 city blocks.
We are thrilled to enter into this arrangement with REI at the Spring District
The 7.2 acre site where REI is looking to build its headquarters campus represents just over 20 percent of the District. Seattle-based Wright Runstad believes REI’s move will help accelerate the development as it moves into its second major phase.
“We are thrilled to enter into this arrangement with REI at the Spring District,” said Greg Johnson, Wright Runstad’s president in a prepared statement. “Wright Runstad and Shorenstein Properties have planned the Spring District from the beginning to embrace sustainability, walkability and regional transit and trail connections; all key values that we share with REI.”
Other current projects in the District include a three-story, 100,000-square-foot building slated to break ground this year that will be the home of the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX). GIX is a graduate academic institute focused on technology innovation that is supported by Microsoft and created by a partnering of the University of Washington and the Tsinghua University of Beijing. The new campus is expected to open fall of 2017.
According to a recent report by Colliers on the Bellevue downtown office market, the technology sector accounts for nearly 70 percent of downtown Bellevue’s current tenant mix and approximately 65 percent of all users actively looking for office space in Bellevue’s downtown core.
Sam Wayne, a senior research analyst with Colliers, believes the Spring District will be able to attract desired technology companies. “I think the developer has already proven successful at this by signing GIX to the project,” said Wayne. “That tenant, along with proximity to Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters, creates synergies, which can be built upon to develop a technology/innovation district.”
Wayne went on to say that REI has a significant technology department that has already moved from Kent into 75,000 square feet at Bellevue’s Eastgate Office Park, and will likely move into the new Spring District headquarters once ready.