Amazon’s Bellevue 600 office tower project is in the heart of downtown Bellevue and could not be in a better location, John Schoettler, Amazon’s vice president of global real estate and facilities, said Tuesday during a video discussion with Patrick Bannon, president of the Bellevue Downtown Association (BDA).
Amazon’s Bellevue 600 project is a 43-story tower under construction at 600 108th Ave. NE and the company’s first owned project in Bellevue. It will be designed to appeal not only to employees, but the public visiting the site on the planned Grand Connection, a largely pedestrian thoroughfare on Northeast 6th Street that will eventually link Meydenbauer Bay with the Eastrail pedestrian/bike trail on Wilburton Hill by way of a 5-acre park lid over Interstate 405 between Northeast 4th and 6th streets.
Bellevue 600 will include ground-level retail, landscaping, wide walkways, restaurants, daycare, artist studios people can see into, music, and more, Schoettler said in the latest installment of BDA’s Downtown Talks series.
This particular installment focused on the Grand Connection.
In a separate Downtown Talks installment preceding Schoettler’s, Bannon interviewed Mac Cummins, the City’s director of community development about the Grand Connection.
Bellevue 600’s location makes it “almost a portal, if you will, to the Grand Connection, and we are very excited about being a part of that,” Schoettler said, also noting the site’s proximity to the Bellevue Transit Center and new Eastlink light rail station.
“We want our buildings to be destinations, where people really want to come,” he said. They’re 18-hour districts. We really care about what happens after the Amazon employees go home so that they’re vibrant and exciting after hours and on weekends — so we’re putting a lot of heart and soul into what we’re doing.”
Bellevue 600 will house a large chunk of the estimated 25,000 employees it will have in downtown by about 2025. Today, Amazon has more than 3,000 workers in the city center. The Bellevue 600 project also will include a second tower of 31 stories. The two-tower site occupies 3.5 acres between 108th and 110th Avenues Northeast.
Cummins said the Grand Connection won’t be built as one project, but as a series of initiatives that add up to where Bellevue wants the Grand Connection to be 20 years from now. Projects like Amazon’s are driving pieces of the project forward and developers are eager to be part of the vision, he said.
A lot of the Grand Connection will happen quickly with new developers coming in, working to align their work with the vision for the Grand Connection, Cummins said. He noted the 10s of thousands of people expected to stream along the corridor daily, presenting opportunities for restaurants, open-air markets, art venues, and more.
“A lot of downtown Bellevue is primary employment right now, and what everyone’s talking about is wanting to shift to more of a 24/7 downtown — increasing tourism on the weekends when there’s less business meetings, having arts and culture, and just capturing people that might otherwise go to a different city or even across the lake,” Cummins said. “So the Grand Connection idea is to help drive a lot of that to a place that people will know and understand.”
An analogy, he said, is the “San Antonio Riverwalk of the Pacific Northwest.”