Recreational Equipment Inc. moved its tech division to the Commons on 90 in Bellevue’s Eastgate neighborhood earlier this year, and now the outdoor retailer plans relocate the rest of its 1,200 employees to a campus to be built at Bellevue’s Spring District.

REI will move its headquarters and 1,200 employees to Bellevue's Spring District by 2020. Photo courtesy REI.

REI will move its headquarters and 1,200 employees to Bellevue’s Spring District by 2020. Photo courtesy REI.

According to a statement, REI has signed a non-binding letter of intent to develop eight acres of the Spring District. The space will offer flexible work space, better technology, and improved transit options for its employees. Seattle-based Wright Runstad & Company is developing the Spring District from a warehouse district into mixed-use development.

“We are thrilled to enter into this arrangement with REI at the Spring District,” said Greg Johnson, Wright Runstad & Company president, in a statement. “Wright Runstad and Shorestein Properties have planned The Spring District from the beginning to embrace sustainability, walkability, and regional transit and trail connections; all key values that we share with REI.”

Adding REI’s headquarters would be a coup for Bellevue, which will lose Expedia and its 3,000 employees when that company begins moving to its Elliot Bay campus in 2019. Though REI’s campus would not fill Expedia’s void downtown, it would serve as the second major tenant for the Spring District, which will also house the University of Washington’s Global Innovation Exchange.

REI publicly announced last summer that it had outgrown its Kent headquarters, and the Spring District and Renton’s Southport development emerged as frontrunners. After several months of scouting, the company decided on Bellevue, in no small part because of the city’s commitment to increasing multi-modal transit infrastructure. City and regional improvements will include more bike lanes, development of the Eastside Rail Corridor connecting Woodinville to Renton, and the forthcoming East Link light rail expansion, which will feature a station at Spring District.

“While we feel very positive about the site, the region is growing and it is no secret that current transit infrastructure is under pressure,” the company said in a statement. “We are encouraged that the region’s community leaders are planning to invest billions of dollars to improve local transit options, including miles of bike lanes.”

The company owns its campus in Kent, and is the suburb’s second-largest employer behind Boeing. REI reportedly considered offices in downtown Bellevue, Issaquah, and the current Weyerhaeuser campus in Federal Way.

REI would be yet another fast-growing company headquartered in Bellevue city limits. The co-op, which routinely is mentioned in “best places to work” lists, rode its successful #OptOutside Black Friday social media campaign to a record $2.4 billion in revenue last year.

This story was updated to include comments from Wright Runstad & Company. 

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