Downtown Bellevue has become a city for families. A decade ago it was a rare sight to see children lined up at school bus stops downtown. Now you can see dozens of children waiting for school buses on several corners throughout the central business district. The increased “stroller count” confirms that couples who may have moved downtown several years ago are choosing to remain downtown and raise their families in the city.
While many new residents, singles and young families, are embracing urban living, working “seniors” are also moving downtown, transitioning from suburban homes where they raised their families to the city, drawn to the convenience and energy of an urban lifestyle vs. moving to age designated, sometimes isolated, suburban communities. The walk-ability to shopping, dining, arts and entertainment venues and medical services is appealing to any age. Nearly 40% of Bellevue’s population is made up of young-at-heart 45-70 year olds who are still working or are active retirees.
Bellevue is also a city of many nations. With over 39% of Bellevue’s population having been born in a foreign country, the city has expanded its cultural diversity. A stroll through Bellevue Square or along the canal at the Downtown Park will reveal a wide variety of languages being spoken by many generations of families who now call Bellevue home.
The city has experienced phenominal business and population growth over the last 10-15 years, and with that growth comes change. Not everyone may embrace change, but the city will never look like it did two decades ago. We are fortunate to live in an active, diverse, thriving city with a vibrant business district, some of the best shopping and dining north of San Francisco, excellent schools and access to world class health care. Its a great place to call home.
Robin Myers / Condo Market Specialist / Windermere Real Estate
Bosa Development officially broke ground last week for the One88 – a 21 story luxury condominium community. This will be the first new condo development in downtown Bellevue since the construction of Bellevue Towers and Washington Square nearly ten years ago. The One88 tower will be rise 21 stories with 143 homes offering one, two and three bedroom residences and penthouse floor plans as well as luxury owner amenities.
Located at the southwest corner of Bellevue Way NE and NE 2nd Street, One88 replaces a collection of low rise buildings where the former Robbins Brothers jewelry was located.
Bosa also developed the successful Insignia condominium towers in Seattle and will also develop the full block city property between Third and Fourth Avenues in Seattle. Plans include a 520 unit residential high-rise and public plaza. Last fall Bosa purchased a second development site in downtown Bellevue. Prices and floor plan details have not yet been released for the One88 community. Marketing and pre-sales are scheduled to begin in early 2018.
There continues to be high interest in urban living and high demand for condos in the downtown Bellevue marketplace. With continuing low inventory buyers have very little to choose from. No doubt One88 is going to be a welcome addition to the downtown skyline. I’m looking forward to the release of more information on this community.
I love technology – it has made the real estate business easier in so many ways. With smart phones and tablets its easy to stay connected with other brokers, clients, appraisers, lenders, etc. Its been a crazy market over the last 24+ months and often its necessary to respond immediately to offers and counteroffers (as well as the occasional clients who expect 24/7 connectivity).
I’ve just returned from a week in Cannon Beach – its definitely my happy place. Technology makes it easy to stay connected, even when you travel, but I held to my commitment to only check email and voice mail twice a day. I enjoyed a fabulous week that was work and stress free.
I love living downtown, and its always good to be back home, but after a few days back some of my observations were troubling. At the beach you see a cell phone in nearly everyone’s back pocket, but that’s where the phones stayed. Adults were walking and talking to one another or talking to their children. Everyone says hello when they pass on the sidewalk and stop to pet any dog within reach. In restaurants parents didn’t hand their phones to their children to be entertained – they were included in the conversation. Out on the beach dogs are running, kids are fling kites, parents are building sand castles and exploring the tide pools with their kids and making s’mores around beach fires at night. Everyone unplugs at the beach. You walk everywhere in Cannon Beach and I felt very safe, almost carefree, as a pedestrian. There are no traffic lights, just stop signs. Drivers yield to pedestrians and not once did I worry about being hit by a driver talking or texting. (I did notice the fine for cell phone use while driving in Oregon is a lot heftier than in Washington which could explain a lot.)
Its always an adjustment back into everyday life after vacation, but I really enjoyed the break from technology, even if for just a week. At the beach no one was staring at their phone on the sidewalk (or shouting at the phone like walkie talkies), no one bumped into me (or a sign post) because they were texting while walking, and I never had to dodge a distracted driver in the intersection. Technology is amazing but with our increased dependence on it we have become less aware of our surroundings and more focused on the tiny screens we carry in our pockets. My post-vacation commitment is to work on integrating some of the relaxed beach lifestyle into my day-to-day work routine. It may make the transition back to work more palatable while I trade feeling the sand between my toes for feeling the sidewalk beneath my feet (at least until I can return to the beach).
Yet another new restaurant, Henry’s Tavern, is scheduled to open August 30th at Lincoln Square. Henry’s Tavern is best known for its wide selection of beers on tap, its frosted bar rail to keep beers cold and a vast menu. This will be the sixth Henry’s Tavern for Restaurants Unlimited, Inc.
Henry’s opened in Portland in 2004 and expanded to Seattle in 2013 with a Sodo location. This is the second Bellevue location for Restaurants Unlimited, Inc. – the other is Palomino. The restaurant will be 11,000+ square feet with a 700 square foot patio and a keg wall – a two tiered glass cooler that has all kegs on display.
Its arts and crafts fair time in downtown Bellevue. This weekend celebrates the 71st annual BAM ARTSfair, the largest arts event in the Northwest. This much anticipated event, with outdoor exhibits and events throughout Bellevue Square and the art museum, includes art exhibits, music, KIDSfair, a Sound and Movement Stage, BAMboozle Stage, Chalk It Up, food trucks and more.
I love this time of year (second only to Snowflake Lane). Starting Thursday afternoon exhibitors will que up for check-in and start setting up their booths, the main level of Bellevue Square’s west parking garage will close to traffic and hotels and restaurants will be filled with artists, exhibitors and visitors. The fair literally takes over downtown for three days and no doubt moving around, either as a pedestrian or driver, will be challenging, and local restaurants and bars will be crowded – but its only for 3 days. This is the largest and most well regarded juried arts event in the Northwest and yes, it will be a bit of a hassle, but it’s an honor to have an event of this caliber in our city.
Don’t miss the the other arts events this weekend – Bellevue is also hosting the Bellevue Festival of the Arts, located across the street from Bellevue Square at the Cost Plus World Market shopping area and the 6th Street Fair with exhibits along the Pedestrian Corridor and 106th Avenue NE.
2016 was a challenging, fast paced residential real estate market with multiple offers and sales over list prices the norm. So far 2017 is set to match or out pace last year, crushing any concerns about another real estate bubble. Downtown Bellevue continues to be a high demand destination for people working on either side of the lake. With Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and numerous other companies continuing to expand and hire, its unlikely the local demand for housing will decline. Last year when Expedia announced it would be moving its offices from Bellevue to Seattle there was concern downtown Bellevue might have an excess of available office space – that lasted just a few minutes. Amazon has leased the entire Centre 425 office tower, Salesforce and other companies occupy most of the 929 Tower, and there isn’t much space left at the Lincoln Square 2 office tower. Its likely the Expedia space will be leased before its even vacated.
New residential rental units have been built downtown but there’s been little in the way of new condo construction. A few condo and townhouse communities are under construction and in design review, but most are less than 20 units. One88, developed by Bosa Development, is the only condo community scheduled to start construction downtown in the next 60 days. As seen in Seattle, expect buyers to line up around the block when the 140 units are offered for sale. (one88bybosa.com)
What does the city’s robust economy and high demand for housing mean for existing condos in the 98004 zip code? Multiple offers will continue and buyers will stretch their budgets to secure an urban residence. Last year the median condo sales price in the 98004 zip code was $580,072. So far this year the median sales price is just over $700,000 – a 21% increase. Until inventory, resale or new construction, can satisfy demand, expect condo values to continue to increase in double digit numbers.
CONDO MARKET SPECIALIST
As an industry expert I keep track of the Eastside’s condo inventory, market trends and new projects under construction or in design review. Contact me if you need information about buying or selling or just want to know what projects are on the horizon.