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December 5, 2018

Vulcan to show 3-tower plan for an expanded site in Bellevue

Journal Staff Reporter

Rendering by Graphite Design Group [enlarge]
Graphite Design Group is designing three 17-story office towers, with about 850,000 square feet, plus retail, underground parking and a landscaped plaza.

In recent years, Vulcan Real Estate has spent about $109 million assembling two big development sites in downtown Bellevue.

No office tenants have been announced, though Amazon is, as usual, rumored.

The north site, at 555 108th Ave., is closer to the future light rail station (now Bellevue Transit Center). NBBJ is designing a 42-story, 600-foot office tower for that.

The south site, at 117 106th Ave. N.E., is further along in the permit process. For now, it's called Bellevue Plaza, for the existing low-rise retail complex, which will be removed. Graphite and Compton Design Office are partnering on the project as architects. The plan is for a phased development on the block between Main Street and Northeast Second Street.

Three phases will run in sequence from south to north (Main to Second), with three 17-story office towers. They will have about 850,000 square feet, plus retail, underground parking and a large landscaped plaza.

Vulcan hopes to break ground in the first quarter of 2020. The company has previously said it wouldn't start without a tenant, and also said that development on both big Bellevue sites would likely be timed to the coming of light rail to downtown in 2023.

Vulcan and Graphite will show their plan at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13 at Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. N.E. Public comments are also due Dec. 13. The city says that a SEPA determination of non-significance is expected.

The site has recently grown in two previously unreported deals. Vulcan originally paid $45 million in 2016 for the main 3.3-acre site. Vulcan's old marketing materials for Bellevue Plaza previously excluded two small separately owned parcels on Main, at the south end: the Jiffy Lube and a locksmith shop.

Graphite's plan and Vulcan's updated property flyers now include those sites.

In May, a Vulcan LLC obtained the Jiffy Lube property from the prior ownership LLC. It was deeded without any excise tax or a recorded price. The property last traded in 2015 for $4.8 million. It appears that Jiffy Lube's lease expired in May, though extensions are possible.

And in April, a Vulcan LLC signed a deed of trust with the Bennett family, which has long owned the locksmith property. Again, there was no excise tax or dollar amount recorded, but a Vulcan representative implies that it will also change hands.

That will yield an unbroken, almost 4-acre assemblage stretching from Main to Second, now almost 19 percent larger than before.

Bellevue Plaza will include about 23,000 square feet of ground-floor retail/commercial space. Office floor plates will average a little under 21,000 square feet. There will be underground parking for some 2,300 vehicles.

Vulcan estimates that the project could ultimately accommodate about 3,000 workers.

Each phase is essentially one building, though they will share a public plaza, parking and amenities.

Interestingly, however, the Phase I and Phase II towers are shown with a “potential” skybridge between them on the 10th-floor level, which would span 101 feet. That would be selling point if one tenant took both buildings (or more). Vulcan says the skybridge is optional, not set in stone.

Phase I goes into design review first. It will have about 286,600 square feet of offices and 11,500 square feet of retail. The tower could accommodate almost 1,000 workers. About 925 parking spaces are described for Phase I.

Plans indicate that three nominally separate garages will be connected below grade. Two garage entrances are indicated on 105th Avenue Northeast, a private street that functions as an alley.

A large greenspace and plaza will separate the Phase I and II towers, and provide a cross-block pedestrian connector. Each tower will be offset slightly to avoid the soldiers-in-a-row effect. Each will have a different facade cladding for more visual relief, though the overall color palette is similar.

The separation between the Phase II and III towers would be about 68 feet.

The team also includes Compton Design Office and GGN. GLY will be the general contractor.

At some future date, Vulcan's smaller $14 million Taco Time site north of Second could be developed as apartments or a possible nine-story, 160,000-square-foot office tower, depending on market conditions.

Vulcan's big north site, 555 108th, hasn't yet gone into design review.

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