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Bellevue is the New Black

Bellevue is the New Black
With office vacancy projected sub 10% by year's end and a burgeoning retail sector, adolescent Bellevue might have it all. The consensus of our seven all-star panelists at our Future of Downtown Bellevue event Thursday at the Glendale Country Club? Baby?s got a very bright future.
Greg Johnson of Wright Runstead at the Glendale Country Club.
The Future of Downtown Bellevue coincided with Wright Runstad & Company's announcement that they were moving forward with development of the Spring District, their 36-acre parcel in the Bel-Red corridor. Right now there's just one 100k SF block available in the city (so get your wooing pitch ready), and only two 50k SF blocks. And if that isn't convincing enough, you can invoke the South Lake Union example, like WR&C president Greg Johnson did: "Ten years ago there was no development in South Lake Union. Zero," he said. "And look what's happened."
Bryan Meyer of Essex Property Trust at the Glendale Country Club.
What's to become of the lowly car when light rail arrives? "The car is still important, but what we've seen is buildings no longer struggle with the parking capacity that they have in the past," said Essex Property Trust's Bryan Meyer. Bryan, a born-and-bred Bellevue resident, noted that there's been 10% rent growth in the past 12 months. The city is "in a sweet spot" as multifamily booms, he said.
Kevin Wallace of Wallace Properties at the Glendale Country Club.
Wallace Properties President and Bellevue City Councilmember Kevin Wallace introduced himself by noting that he's a broker and lawyer by day and a politician by night. ("There's probably a special wing in hell reserved for me," he joked.) Kevin said the retail market in Bellevue?s CBD is very strong, and getting stronger. The management at the Bellevue Collection ?gave me some numbers on their sales growth and they're so good I don't believe them.? Apple is expanding in Bellevue Square and the recently opened Tesla store is its number two dealership in the U.S. The rest of the downtown retail has a 2.8% vacancy rate and it's falling. At the City, expectations are high for new growth in downtown office buildings and hotels next year, and the City is poised to make major investments in roads to keep up with the growth and reduce traffic congestion.
Jim Stanton of Microsoft at the Glendale Country Club.
Microsoft senior community affairs manager for real estate Jim Stanton noted that Microsoft's footprint in Redmond is 13.8M SF. Jim said he keeps telling Redmond mayor John Marchione that Redmond is a company town, but Marchione refuses to believe him. What Microsoft needs from Bellevue are amenities, he added: "When you recruit from all over the world to the rainiest place on the planet, you sell them on the company—flexibility of the work environment, hours, services, conveniences and large spaces."
Bellevue is the New Black
Here's moderator extraordinaire John Hempelmann of Carincross & Hempelmann, who kept everyone engaged and moved the show along beautifully, making sure things ended on time (that's something of a feat). Bravo, John!
Kevin Wallace, Ming Zhang, Scott Douglas, Greg Johnson, Jim Stanton, Bryan Meyer and Roger Heeringa at the Glendale Country Club.
So many people showed up to the Glendale Country Club to hear these guys that extra chairs had to be brought in. During the pre-panel schmooze, we heard one person mention a 10am teetime. Nowthat's opportunistic planning.