Eastside Just Grows And Grows -- Boom Shows No Signs Of Slowing In Jobs Rate Or Population
Seattle Times Eastside Bureau
IF YOU GET the feeling there's a construction project everywhere you look on the Eastside these days, you're right. Dozens of major housing and commercial projects are under way or about to be. -----------------------------------------------------------------
Eastside cities will boom again this year, luring thousands more residents and an estimated 3,600 new companies by the end of the year.
Awash in software campuses and picturesque neighborhoods, the Eastside is growing in population at nearly twice the county rate and four times as fast as Seattle. Job growth will be even greater, with Bothell expecting three times as many new jobs as new residents, and Redmond already ahead with 6,000 more jobs than residents. That means more commuters are coming to already-clogged roads.
The Eastside's job-growth rate is projected to be up 5 percent this year and to outpace Seattle for the seventh consecutive year.
-- The eastward job march has triggered an intense eastward housing push, bringing enough new homes to Duvall this year to equal another small city.
-- In Redmond, high technology and a 50 percent expansion of Microsoft will fuel so much building that the city of 41,000 is bracing for its biggest construction year to date.
-- The clamor for housing will bring the start of urban villages in Issaquah and Snoqualmie, building cities within cities, along with dozens of new shops and offices, and miles of roads.
-- And in Kirkland and Bellevue, downtowns are being remade, filled with new condominiums to ease the demand for more affordable housing in these cities where little undeveloped land is left.
Although Redmond-based Microsoft is a key factor in the boom, dozens of other companies continue to bolster the Eastside's gross domestic product, which is expected to be up 6 percent over last year and reach almost $6.6 billion.
Although many celebrate the economic news, residents like Jim Kenney of Bellevue wonder what it will mean for the Eastside's quality of life.
"I don't think we're asking the philosophical questions: Why grow? Who is going to benefit?" said Kenney, who has lived in Bellevue since 1973 and still lacks city services such as sidewalks. "They're encouraging more and more growth, yet there's less and less to pay for it."
Today and tomorrow, The Seattle Times will look at some of the largest projects proposed or under construction in Eastside cities this year. ----------------------------------------------------------------- APARTMENTS, CONDOS ARE THE BIG FOCUS
Condominiums and apartments are Bellevue's development focus this year - a push fueled by the lack of undeveloped land and rising prices for single-family homes.
"The least expensive detached home in Bellevue is $250,000, and there's not too many of those," said Magen Michaud, permit-center manager. "They build a lot of high-end houses in Bellevue that a lot of people can't afford."
The city has applications for 25 multifamily projects with more than 700 units, including the 80-unit Bellevue Second Street Apartments, already under construction, and the 118-unit Pacific Inn, an affordable-housing development at 225 112th Ave. N.E.
Downtown housing is exactly what city leaders want.
"When you have only shops and offices downtown, there's no reason to be there at night," Michaud said.
Bellevue's big-office heyday has passed, with no one building the type of offices that gave the city its skyline.
"The whole complexion of what a downtown used to be is changing. You don't need those huge office buildings," Michaud said. "And surrounding communities are really doing a lot more commercial. They're drawing it away from us."
No major annexations are planned this year, Michaud said. The city's population, which grew by 17 percent from 1990 through last year, is expected to increase less than 1 percent this year.
The Bellevue market for hotels and motels, however, is on the upswing, especially extended-stay hotels that typically serve executives in the area for 30 days or more.
The city has six hotel-motel applications, including the 122-unit Candlewood Extended Stay Hotel on 159th Avenue Southeast and two Homestead Village motels with more than 150 units each. The 144-unit Fairfield Inn is also beginning construction at 14595 N.E. 29th Place.
Commercial projects planned include Top Food and Drug, 1440 156th Ave. N.E.; another building at the Sunset Office complex to include 190,486 square feet on Eastgate Way; a 126,000-square-foot Home Depot at 300 120th Ave. N.E.; and a 127,304-square-foot expansion of a Bellevue Square parking garage. ----------------------------------------------------------------- IT'S STRICTLY BUSINESS THIS YEAR
This boomtown will receive applications for an estimated 2 million square feet of new buildings and see up to 4 million square feet under construction this year, according to Jim Roberts, assistant planning director.
A big part of that is the $200 million Town Center, Redmond's first major downtown retail center with 130 shops and offices, including AT & T Wireless' new headquarters. In all, it will cover 1.4 million square feet of building space and its first phase, with 750,000 square feet, is expected to open this summer.
The first businesses to open will include an eight-screen movie theater by Cineplex Odeon and retail stores such as Eddie Bauer. Other tenants will be the Lake Washington School District, Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited Express, Limited Too, Lane Bryant, Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, Garden Botanika, Cucina! Cucina! Italian Cafe, Gap, Gapkids, the Shoe Zoo, Paint the Town, Asia Grille, Todo Wraps, Nine West, Cliff's Comics, Distinctive Designs, Jolie Jolie, Sweet Factory, Infinito Cafe, and Borders Books, Music & Cafe.
But retail will not be the biggest force in Redmond this year.
"High-tech is still the strongest," Roberts said, including four major expansions by Microsoft that will accommodate up to 5,000 more employees and increase the company's office space by 50 percent.
Redmond has been a building hotspot and is in the midst of its greatest growth in as long as anyone can remember. That has worried residents who say city services are being drained, and prompted the City Council late last year to approve an unusual per-employee tax on businesses. But the future is unknown, Roberts says.
"We don't know whether the number of projects will continue or if there will be a tapering off," he said. "Things are going to start strong, but it's not clear what will happen."
1. Downtown Redmond. Town Center. 1.4 million square feet of retail and office.
2. 11431/11351 Willows Road. Quadrant Willows, two-story office buildings. 400,000 square feet.
3. 18025 N.E. 116th Ave. New Lake Washington School District elementary campus.
4. 9900 Willows Road. Overlake Christian Church. 6,000-square-foot auditorium.
5. North of City Hall. Townhomes on the River Trail 207 townhomes; second phase under way and third and fourth phases in planning.
6. 180th Avenue Northeast and Avondale Road Northeast. Ashford Park Condominiums. 88 units of 160-unit development; phases 1 and 2 complete.
7. 18655 Union Hill Road. Metro Van Distribution Center. 10.22-acre site.
8. 18000 block Northeast 65th Street. Underwood Johnson Corporate Center. Industrial complex, 400,000 square feet.
9. 6244 185th Ave. N.E. Redmond East Hilltop. Two-story office buildings; 95,180 square feet
10. Redmond-Fall City Road and 187th Avenue Northeast. English Cover Condominiums. 80-units.
11. 169th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 40th Street. Microsoft Pebble Beach. 365,000 square feet.
12. 15050 N.E. 36th St. Proctor Office Building. Three stories, 118,530 square feet.
13. Between state Highway 520 and 156th Avenue Northeast. Microsoft Augusta. 612,000 square feet.
14. Northeast 31st Street and 156th Avenue Northeast. Microsoft Troon. 446,000 square feet.
15. Between Microsoft main campus and Bellevue-Redmond Road frontage. Microsoft Building 28. 107,000 square feet.
----------------------------------------------------------------- RESIDENTIAL BUILDING TREND CONTINUES
Residential development has been stronger than commercial in this city, and the trend continues this year. With little land left, builders have returned to previously passed-over areas with steep slopes or wetlands and are finding ways to make their projects work, said Eric Shields, planning director.
The city's already-thriving downtown has been earmarked for at least six projects, many of them condominiums with retail and offices on the first floor. Parking lots, vacant homes and razed sites are making way for projects like the Portsmith Condominiums, where 152 units at Second Avenue South are replacing two or three homes that were torn down.
"We have a limited supply of available commercial land, and most of what's happening is redevelopment," Shields said. Downtown sales are up and so are rents, he said.
The city last year witnessed a dramatic increase in multifamily housing and the interest in apartments, town homes and condominiums continues, with more than a dozen projects planned.
The trend concerns residents like Alan Marshall, who sees wetlands becoming targets for construction because of Kirkland's small inventory of buildable land. Marshall has helped create In Kirkland's Environment and has fought two apartment projects planned for wetlands.
"The central issue is that the City Council members think they have to compromise on development projects and with developers," Marshall said. "They have the absolute full right and responsibility to just say no."
Planned multifamily construction includes the 245-unit Kirkland College Apartments, a 60-unit apartment building at 530 Second Ave. and the 43-unit Rosehill Condominiums in the 8700 block of 124th Avenue Northeast.
1. 11215 N.E. 124th St. . Office building . 105,000 square feet .
2. 11256 N.E. 116th St. . 81 detached units .
3. 11930 124th Ave. N.E. . Sound Infiniti . Auto dealership on 3.9 acres .
4. Northeast 120th Street near 132nd Avenue Northeast . Kirkland College Apartments . 245 units .
5. 9224 Slater Ave. N.E. . Adult assisted-living facility . 230 beds .
6. 12405 N.E. 85th St. . Walgreen's . 13,783 square feet .
7. 726 Fourth Avenue . Central Way Plaza . Four-story office building .
8. Market and Central Way Northeast . Market Street Condominiums . 13 units .
9. 300 block of Kirkland Avenue . Kirkland Performance Center . 400-seat performing-arts theater .
10. Second Avenue South, east of Lake Street . Portsmith Condominiums . 152 units .
11. Third Avenue and Second Street . Brezza Condominiums . 76 units .
12. Fourth Avenue and Third Street . Chaffey Condominiums . 12 units .
13. Sixth Street near Second Avenue . Watermark Apartments . 60 units .
14. 801 and 811 Kirkland Ave. . Two-story office buildings .
15. Sixth Street, south of Seventh Avenue South . Park Avenue Condominiums . 38 units . ----------------------------------------------------------------- ALMOST BIGGER-THAN-LIFE GRAND RIDGE WILL BEGIN TO TAKE SHAPE THIS YEAR
Grand Ridge, a city-size development that will be home to nearly as many people as Issaquah proper, will begin to take shape.
Clearing and grading of the 2,100-acre site has begun with the first phase of 110 homes to be under construction this fall. Homes will be for sale late this year, said Judd Kirk, president of Port Blakely Communities.
Grand Ridge is the furthest along of the urban villages backed by King County since the late 1980s and designed to serve as both housing and employment centers. To be built over two decades, Grand Ridge will include 3,250 homes and apartments, 2.95 million square feet of commercial space and 425,000 square feet of retail space.
The city annexed Grand Ridge last summer, but development will be restricted to 540 homes, 50,000 square feet of retail and 250,000 square feet of commercial until an interchange and access road is built around 2000.
"The growth is unbelievable," said Jerry Lind, Issaquah senior planner. "We're going to see that over the whole Seattle metropolitan area. It's a very strong economy here, and all of the communities have seen this sort of trickle-down effect."
Another urban village is under review in Issaquah: the 1,800-unit East Village, which would have 1 million square feet of office space and 50,000 square feet of commercial space. It is earmarked for land west of state Highway 900, near Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, and will make its way through planning and review this year.
Issaquah also may see new hotels, Lind says. Two are proposed for Gilman Boulevard, including a four-story Marriott next to the new post office and a Roundtree at 620 N.W. Gilman Blvd.
Other planned developments are a Trader Joe's grocery, Tully's Coffee and King County Credit Union buildings. Total developments under construction or review: 118 homes, 459 apartment units, 75,395 commercial square feet, 37,323 retail square feet and 128,775 office square feet.
1. Grand Ridge. 3,250 homes and apartments; 2.95 million sq. ft. of commercial space and 425,000 square feet of retail.
2. 12th Avenue Northwet and Northwest Sammamish Road. Tovah Retail Center. Tully's Coffee.
3. Pickering Place. King County Credit Union building. Trader Joe's.
4. 620 N.W. Gilman Blvd. Roundtree Hotel .
6. 13080 4th Ave. N.W. Juniper Meadows townhomes; 7 units
7. Gilman Boulevard, adjacent tonew post office . Marriott Hotel.
8. Between Cougar Mountain and State Route 900. East Village: Proposed 1,800 homes, 1 million square feet of office space and 50,000 square feet of commercial space ----------------------------------------------------------------- The burgeoning Eastside
Job growth on the Eastside once again will outpace Seattle's this year, bringing more than 3,000 new companies east of Lake Washington. Here are the major construction projects planned this year:
REDMOND: Up to 4 million square feet of construction. BELLEVUE: Nearly 80 projects, including seven hotels and 25 condominium and apartment developments. ISSAQUAH: Grand Ridge, city-size project that will nearly double Issaquah's population. KIRKLAND: Six major condominium, retail and office projects in downtown alone. WOODINVILLE: 42-acre retail project to cover 25 percent of downtown. BOTHELL: University of Washington, Bothell Campus and Cascadia Community College, to include 1.1 million square feet of buildings. DUVALL: 16 housing projects, expected to bring up to 1,500 people and increase the city's population by as much as 40 percent. MERCER ISLAND: $50 million remodel of Mercer Island High School, the largest project on the island since Interstate 90 construction.
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