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July 28, 2020

New GIS headquarters in Bellevue includes housing in 6-story complex

Real Estate Editor

Rendering by SkB Architects [enlarge]
GIS Plaza is rising directly north of the Metropolitan, with housing, retail and office space for GIS International Group.

Fifteen years after the small downtown Bellevue property at 930 109th Ave. N.E. sold for $1.3 million, GIS Plaza is now under construction, and has risen above ground.

Its long, ill-starred history is belied by what's taking form today.

The current project, designed by SkB Architects, is a six-story building with residential units, retail and office space. Stacked parking will provide 19 stalls.

GIS International Group, a Redmond-based developer with Russian roots, is building its future headquarters. A retail bay and parking will occupy the first floor (with some parking also below grade). Offices and apartments will go on the second, with more apartments on the third and fourth floors.

Floors five and six were originally to be three large condos — for a total of 13 units. GIS recently said there will be 16 units, so the project appears to have changed somewhat since permits were issued. A roof deck is also planned.

The 6,659-square-foot corner occupies an odd bit of downtown Bellevue real estate, where large blocks are the norm. Essentially an alley, 109th wraps around the site and neighboring Metropolitan condos to the south. GIS Plaza will overlook Northeast 10th Street, facing the library and pocket park. The site is also bounded by 110th Avenue Northeast to the east. It's basically at the north tip of a long, skinny mini-block.

Total project size, including the parking, is around 32,139 square feet. The team also includes CSP Engineering, surveyor; and GCH, landscape architect.

The old GIS plan, halted by the great recession, was a 17-story, 200-foot-tall condominium to be called European Tower. Designed by CollinsWoerman, it was to have one large luxury unit per floor (16, excluding the ground level), also with stacked parking. That and the structural engineering, by DCI, were challenges on such a constrained site.

Then the recession hit, and there weren't enough pre-sales to secure construction financing.

Since the European Tower plan emerged, circa 2007, and died about two years later, the “kit of parts” system by Sustainable Living Innovations has created one solution for building on such small lots. For example, SLI's entitled 15-story, 112-unit tower planned at 303 Battery St. in Belltown will use premade components and a steel exoskeleton for its 6,480-square-foot corner.

That's about same size as the GIS site. And, ironically, SLI is a relatively recent venture of CollinsWoerman and Renova Capital Partners of Denver. So the architect has learned a few new tricks since European Tower days.

GIS, led by Eugene Gershman and family members, is currently building Madison Plaza, with 157 units at 102 Madison St. in Kent. (GIS Residential Construction is the builder, and IHB Architects of Kent is the architect. Peter Meiusi and Mike Incrocci of Broadmark Realty Capital provided the construction loan.) The site, just east of Highway 167, is about a 12-minute walk east to Kent Station.

The firm, which has a concrete business back in Russia, also does single-family and townhouse projects.


Brian Miller can be reached by email at brian.miller@djc.com or by phone at (206) 219-6517.

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