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The Next South Lake Union?

The Next South Lake Union?
Bellevue's next big boom is coming courtesy of Wright Runstad & Company, the developer already responsible for much of the city's skyline. This week we caught up with WR&C president Greg Johnson, who shared his vision of the future and why it's "Spring" time in Bellevue.
Wright Runstad President Greg Johnson.
The Bel-Red corridor was re-zoned in 2009, and the master development plan for the Spring District—a 36-acre extension of downtown Bellevue to be transformed into 16 city blocks of office/apartment/hotel goodness centered around a light rail station—was just approved last month by the city. Wright Runstad & Company, together with partner Shorenstein Properties of San Francisco, will start off with 480k SF of office development, and currently has a 3.3 acre apartment development site on the market, Greg says. (To hear Greg in person, come to our Future of Downtown Bellevue at the Glendale Country Club this Thursday. Sign up!)
The Next South Lake Union?
Above, a current photo of the Bellevue skyline that highlights several of the WR&C buildings, including Key Center, Symetra's HQ and Microsoft's City Center Plaza, to name a few. WR&C is also hard at work on the new Husky Stadium, which Greg promises will be ready for the first game of the 2013 season. While Bellevue might once have been a "happy medium city"—less suburban than Redmond, not as hardcore urban as Seattle—Greg says that perception is fading as tech leaders take over. Bellevue's new identity is all about innovation, but not just Microsoft: during the last cycle, the city attracted Valve, Suckerpunch, and Expedia, among many others.
A rendering of the spring district in Bellevue.
Here's a rendering of what the Spring District. When the next wave of tech tenants and innovative companies arrives, the Spring District will be poised to welcome them with large floor plates and a unique walkable transit district that compliments the downtown, Greg believes. There may be more in the works: Bellevue has lower office vacancy than Seattle, and the market is healthy, to say the least. "One or two more large office users—and by that I mean 50k SF or larger—and downtown Bellevue will practically be full," Greg says. "There's going to be new development sooner than people think." Personally, Greg has become a big follower of the high-tech gaming industry, thanks to his two teenage sons. "They spend a lot of time trying to teach me to play the newest games," Greg says. "But I prefer Sim City for obvious reasons."