After establishing three locations in Seattle, the global coworking company prepares to open in downtown Bellevue
Nearly three years have passed since the global coworking company WeWork arrived in the Puget Sound region. Founded in 2010 and operating more than 100 locations worldwide, WeWork’s presence has been limited locally to three sites in Seattle. That will change this spring, when the company moves into the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors of the new 31-story, 750,000-square-foot office tower that is part of Kemper Development Company’s $1.2 billion Lincoln Square Expansion.
In January, WeWork community manager Daley Smith led 425 Business on a tour of the new location. The space was still being built out, and Smith spoke over the clatter of contractors pounding hammers and working table saws as she weaved between ladders and scaffolding, bundled stacks of pink insulation material, piles of uninstalled ventilation ducts, and the framing of unfinished offices and conference rooms. Smith held an iPad loaded with finished floor plans and design schematics.
The company will occupy a low bank of floors in the office tower, but WeWork members still will glimpse views of Lake Washington and Meydenbauer Bay, the Cascade mountains, and even the distant downtown Seattle skyline. Step onto the fifth floor’s landscaped terrace, and you are surrounded by downtown Bellevue’s glass-and-steel high-rises. And the space will have the perks found in most WeWork locations, such as high-speed internet access; wide-open communal areas with comfortable couches; a game room; and even free coffee, bottled wine, and beer on tap.
According to Smith, the Bellevue location will open in three phases, beginning with the seventh floor in April, the fifth floor in May, and the sixth floor in June. The three-floor, 75,000-square-foot space has enough desks, offices, and conference rooms to serve 1,400 WeWork members. In January, Smith said, nearly 250 members have signed up to work at the Bellevue location.
Gina Phillips, leader of WeWork’s Pacific Northwest operations, spoke to 425 Business to share her thoughts on the company’s move to downtown Bellevue.
Q: What was the appeal for opening a location in downtown Bellevue?
A: When we opened the first floor at South Lake Union in 2014, one of the first requests we got was to open a location on the Eastside. That is a common refrain that we have been hearing for the last three years. This is us being able to come back to them and say, “We’re doing it. We’re ready. Here are your options so you have resources on both sides of the water.” This is in response to the demand.
Q: What was behind that demand from WeWork members wanting a location on the Eastside?
A: Many of them live on the Eastside and love to work on the Eastside or have a resource and environment like WeWork without having to cross the water. And then there are people who would love to have touchdown bases on both sides of the water. Either they live in Seattle and have meetings in Bellevue, or the other way around. And then we have members who want full-time offices on both sides of the water so their employees can go to the WeWork location that is most convenient for them. Besides member demand, really exciting things are happening in Bellevue with the addition of the Global Initiative Exchange and some companies moving their headquarters there. We’re excited about the REI addition, and the plan the city has with the Grand Connection and having some of these hike and bike trails. We are really excited by the level of enterprise and how Bellevue is increasingly becoming a destination for business and attracting international business.
Q: How did you settle on the Lincoln Square Expansion?
A: We looked at a number of buildings. Lincoln Square seemed to be the natural choice in terms of the quality of the construction. I think the building is high-end in terms of finishes: taller floors, wider parking spaces, concierge services, beautiful lobbies. And we loved their design for the building. We look for buildings that have a lot of natural light and a lot of connections to natural amenities. It’s kind of an interconnected neighborhood with skyways and underground passages to Bellevue Square, great parking, and even public transportation.
Q: What will the WeWork Bellevue location look like when it opens?
A: The fifth floor will open onto a common outdoor space with wide open space. We envision having tables and chairs and a lot of events out there. On the sixth floor, we will have a huge terrace that is exclusive to WeWork. We would really love to activate the building and be a home for events in the city, particularly around innovation and entrepreneurship, and really bill ourselves as another town hall environment for civic conversations. We really see that outdoor space as a great amenity.