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Originally published May 9, 2014 at 2:27 PM | Page modified May 9, 2014 at 4:17 PM

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Freeman details plans for $1.2B Bellevue Collection expansion

Kemper Freeman is going big with the $1.2 billion expansion of his downtown Bellevue real-estate empire, and he isn’t skimping on the high-tech showroom to draw in tenants for the multipurpose complex, either.


Seattle Times business reporter

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Kemper Freeman is going big with the $1.2 billion expansion of his downtown Bellevue real-estate empire, and he isn’t skimping on the high-tech showroom to draw in tenants for the multipurpose complex, either.

Starting in mid-June, the public and potential tenants will be able to get virtual views inside and out of any piece of the Bellevue Collection expansion.

The expansion project will officially break ground on the Lincoln Square side of Bellevue Way on July 18, and later will include Bellevue Square, said the Eastside developer whose namesake company, Kemper Development, owns the Bellevue Collection.

Together the expansions will add two hotels with a combined 500 rooms; 550 luxury apartments; 700,000 square feet of office space; 350,000 square feet of retail and restaurants; and 3,500 parking spots.

All told it will take three and a half years to complete: Two and a half for Lincoln Square, and another year for Bellevue Square.

The high-tech leasing office — Freeman calls it the Studio Expansion Experience Center — on the second floor of Lincoln Square is equipped with screens that will let visitors visualize the project before it is complete.

“What we are trying to do is use the 2.5 years of construction to end up fully leased by the time we are done,” Freeman said.

In the studio, a customer can look at an office space on the 28th floor in one of the towers, lighting up that portion of the building on the physical model, while the outside view is displayed on the panel of floor-to-ceiling screens behind it. They can then see a 3-D tour of the inside.

“If you want to see it from the north, south, east or west, or southeast, or any corner ... we can do the same thing with each apartment,” Freeman said during a presentation to the media Friday.

This summer, a room across the hall will also open, displaying full-size models of each type of space offered — office, hotel and residential.

Freeman postponed plans for a major Lincoln Square expansion during the Great Recession in 2008. But now, when other similarly-sized retailers across the country are seeing declines, the Collection has seen five years of retail-sales growth — up 27.2 percent in 2013, he said.

With office space in the Bellevue Collection at 100 percent occupancy, retail and restaurant occupancy at 97 percent and the hotels booked 80 percent of the time, Freeman said now is the time to expand.

“Too many [developers] get an epiphany in the shower, and before anybody talks to them, they go and build,” Freeman said. “We do just the opposite. We spend a lot of time on market research on what is needed ... We don’t build with an epiphany, we build with research.”

Coral Garnick: 206-464-2422 or cgarnick@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @coralgarnick



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