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October 13, 2020

22 acres in downtown Redmond poised for major redevelopment

Real Estate Editor

Map and rendering by Clark Barnes [enlarge]
The plan by architect Clark Barnes is for an eight-story building with 251 apartments, including seven live/work units, and 4,316 square feet of retail/commercial space.

The eight-story apartment project is only the first redevelopment in a phased project over 22 acres owned by the Nelson family (outlined in orange). The future light rail station is indicated at lower right (southeast).

The late Bill Nelson, a major local figure in contractors' insurance and bonding, began buying Redmond properties in 1952. He started with a downtown corner that became a Texaco station (now closed and mostly used for parking).

Today, Nelson Legacy Group has amassed about 22 contiguous acres a little northwest of the future Downtown Redmond Station, where light rail service will begin in 2024. NLG is now poised to redevelop that land, beginning with the now restaurant and retail corner at 8005 161st Ave. N.E. Trammel Crow Residential is working with NLG on that initial project.

The 1.4-acre corner, at Redmond Way, is currently home to Aqua Quip, an espresso stand and Grand Peking restaurant, all of which will eventually be removed.

The plan by architect Clark Barnes is for an eight-story building with 251 apartments, including seven live/work units. It would have 4,316 square feet of retail/commercial space, and about 221 parking stalls — both underground and structured.

The unnamed project is merely the first step in a phased 22-acre redevelopment plan that could span many years. Clark Barnes says it's “the first new building in the Nelson master plan. The master plan is 22 contiguous acres in the northwest corner of downtown.

“The goal is the redevelopment of the 22 acres around a cohesive master plan that significantly increases density and adds a mix of residential, office and retail uses, that offer a dense work, live and play environment. This new Northwest district developed over time seeks to include northwest architecture that expresses natural materials, structures, indoor/outdoor spaces, transparency, respect and support of the environment, and great people spaces and facilitate a broad inclusionary community.”

That property will evidently require a new master plan or district overlay to be approved by the city. That couldn't be confirmed with the city before deadline Monday.

NLG's 22 acres have a roughly boot-shaped outline, with the Aqua Quip corner at its toe. The property extends west to the Sammamish River and north to Northeast 85th Street. QFC and Trader Joe's lie at its center, aka Redmond Center. It's mostly bounded to the south by Redmond Way.

Weisman Design Group is the landscape architect for the Aqua Quip redevelopment project. The new building would have its mass broken into east and west wings, with a 9,633-square-foot central courtyard. The latter would open onto a public plaza on the corner, next to the retail/commercial space facing Redmond Way.

At least 25 of the apartments would be affordable. Individual unit sizes aren't yet provided. The city estimates the total project size, parking included, at 370,710 square feet.

Directly east of the site, across 161st, Trammel Crow Residential and Graham Construction are currently building the 193-unit Alexan Central Park.

NLG hasn't been known as a residential developer. Instead, it owns and operates office and retail properties. It assembled the Aqua Quip corner in 2007 and 2015 for a combined $7.9 million.

Bill C. Nelson (1920-2004) played football for the University of Washington and then rugby while at Harvard Business School. The World War II veteran subsequently ran Dawson & Co. for decades, sold the company in the early 1980s, and began investing more in Redmond, Kirkland and Eastern Washington. NLG is now in its third generation of family ownership. Efforts to reach the company for comment before deadline were unsuccessful.

Separately, a few blocks east of the main NLP assemblage, the former Texaco corner at 16311 Redmond Way, later an Exxon, is still awaiting environmental remediation, according to the state Department of Ecology. The last known tenant was Premium Tune N Lube. That property totals 14,400 square feet, and is even closer to the future light rail station. After cleanup, that property is also likely bound for redevelopment.


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

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