In 2008, Bellevue was named the best place to live and start a business by financial news and information website, CNN Money. A few years later in 2014, USA Today named the Seattle suburb the second best place in the country, recognizing the opportunities that the region, as well as the city had to offer for workers and those living there. With a population of just over 122,000, the city has experienced significant growth over the years. While this growth has not always been without pain, it has firmly positioned the Eastside city as a premier location for commercial and residential developers alike.
Due to the city’s growth, it has continued to prosper and remained relatively unaffected by the economic downturn from the last recession that had affected the nation. Perhaps this is partially due to the number of internationally-renowned companies that have moved their headquarters into the Eastside city. In the state of Washington, Bellevue is the state’s second largest city center and is ranked sixth among 622 communities for its per capita income, according to RentCafé.
Changes to downtown Bellevue’s landscape reflect this prosperity, specifically over the last eight years. Ten developments have had a great impact on the evolution of what is Bellevue’s downtown today. Of these, six were completed in 2010.
Avalon Towers Bellevue, built by AvalonBay Communities Inc. and designed by Portland-based architecture firm Ankrom Moisan, is a development that consists of two contemporary towers of 23- and 14-stories. It is located at 10349 NE 10th Street in downtown, just one block away from the state-of-the-art retail, dining and entertainment venue, The Bellevue Collection.
Belcarra, located at 10688 NE 10th Street, is an urban living development located in central downtown with a modern design of glass walls that provide beautiful scenic views. The development owner, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Essex Property Trust, offers its tenants a green-friendly residential space with an emphasis on recreation, fitness and business, providing an onsite business center and conference room.
The Hyatt Regency Bellevue, by Kemper Development Co., is near Avalon Towers Bellevue and minutes away from The Bellevue Collection. Some of its many features include a 7,000 square foot fitness center, a heated 25 meter pool and a 70,000-square-foot event space.
Seattle-based Schnitzer West’s Bravern Apartments were designed as luxury condominiums and has maintained a 94 percent occupancy rate, says RentCafé. Located at 688 110th Avenue NE, the development offers many amenities to its residents, such as retail shopping on the ground floor and a signature spa.
Metro 112 Apartments, developed by Denver-based Simpson Housing and designed by Ankrom Moisan, is a 300-unit apartment building located in Bellevue’s downtown. It features two residential towers, retail and commercial space totaling over 500,000 square feet.
Located at 211 112th Avenue NE, just one block south of Metro 112 Apartments, is Aventine Apartment Homes. Developed by GA-based Flournoy Companies, the five-story development offers 68 units that was given the name of an Italian city or principality, due to its unique European design.
Bellevue-based Su Development completed Elements Apartments in 2011. Located in the Ashwood Arts District at 958 11th Avenue NE, the 23-story development consists of three glass and steel high-rises that were designed by local firm Cutler Anderson Architects. Its retail space consists of boutique shops, markets and galleries.
Soma Towers, also by Su Development, is located at 288 106the Avenue NE. The two 23-story modern towers with 258 apartment units features both retail and restaurant space. The gold LEED certified condominiums, Bellevue Towers, was developed by Portland-based Gerding Edlen. At 42- and 43-stories, one of the towers is Bellevue’s tallest building. Located at 106the Avenue NE, some of its amenities include a fitness center, spa and half-acre rooftop garden. Both buildings were completed in 2014, according to RentCafé.
After only opening in 2015, the Seattle Marriott Bellevue was acquired this January by Carey Watermark Investor 2 for $163.4 million, or approximately $425,521 per room. Located at 200 110th Avenue NE, the 17-story hotel provides 384 guest rooms and 17 cutting-edge meeting rooms.
The Low Income Housing Institute completed a project in May 2015 called August Wilson Place, named after the Pulitzer Place winning African-American playwright. Designed by Seattle-based architecture firm GGLO, the develop offers 57 units with rents ranging from $453 and $1,207. It sits in close proximity to City Hall, many cultural, employment and shopping opportunities, as well as the planned East Link Light Rail extension.
According to Sam Wayne, a partner on the Colliers Mutlifamily Property Advisors team for Colliers International in Seattle, there has been a significant shift in the downtown Bellevue market recently. “Now there are rumors swirling around that Apple and Amazon are looking, and that WeWork is committed,” Wayne said. “From what I’m hearing, Apple and Amazon are looking to take a full building. So, this is market changing.”
Wayne says the prospective relocation of these big names are increasing investors’ interest in downtown Bellevue. “On the Investment sales side, we hear there are more investors competing for available inventory,” Wayne added. “We’re starting to see investors buying in to the future of downtown Bellevue.”
As these companies continue to relocate, bringing growth and new jobs to the market, the demand for more housing will continue. “Bellevue is ready to meet some of these challenges,” Wayne said. “They’re ready for the next cycle, because they have the development capacity to accommodate some of that growth.”