Sparc Apartments is the first project to be completed in the Spring District, a 36-acre mixed-use center east of Bellevue

Consider it the first sign of life in Bellevue’s emerging Spring District.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday marked the grand opening of Sparc Apartments, the first project to be completed as part of an ambitious plan to turn a former warehouse district just east of downtown Bellevue into the 36-acre, $2.3 billion mixed-use urban center that will be the Spring District.

“We could not be happier that the Spring District is finally opening its doors with the arrival of Sparc Apartments,” said John Marasco, chief development officer at Security Properties, which built, owns, and operates the Sparc Apartments. “Our vision of shaping this new neighborhood into a destination for urban living has come into fruition.”

Security Properties broke ground in summer of 2015 on the 309-unit Sparc Apartments, which consists of five buildings that offer studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, as well as townhomes and live work/lofts. The size of units range between 486 square feet and 1,630 square feet.

Amenities include a rooftop courtyard with a putting green, a fitness center, pet washing station, bike storage and maintenance areas, WiFi cafe, and event space complete with a demonstration kitchen, game room, and media lounge. Sparc Apartments is nearly 25 percent occupied, and units became available for lease in April.

Sparc Apartments offer studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, as well as townhomes and live work/lofts. Photo courtesy Security Properties

The complex also includes a 14,000-square-foot Bright Horizons early education center, which shares its playground with residents on the evenings and weekends.

GGLO designed Sparc Apartments. Walsh Construction was the project’s general contractor.

This is not the only project Security Properties is developing in the Spring District. The Seattle company broke ground in November on a three-building, 279-unit apartment building adjacent to Sparc Apartments. It will include two ground-floor commercial spaces totaling 3,700 square feet. The project is expected to be completed in late-2018.

Security Properties owns several apartment buildings on the Eastside: The 400-unit Overlook at Lakemont; 227-unit The Heights at Bear Creek; and the 124-unit Bourdeaux in Bothell.

A 200-unit mixed-use building is slated to be built in the Spring District by Chicago-based AMLI Residential Properties on 1.5 acres of land.

Amenities at Sparc Apartments include a rooftop courtyard with expansive views of downtown Bellevue. Photo courtesy Security Properties

The Spring District is located in the Bel-Red Corridor, between 120th Avenue NE and 124th Avenue NE, and is being developed by a team led by Seattle-based Wright Runstad & Company. The District will also include two office towers, brew pub, retail shops, parks, and open space. In the end, more than 2,000 residents and 13,000 employees are expected to populate the Spring District.

Developers have already netted several big wins for the neighborhood.

REI will move its corporate headquarters from Kent to an eight-acre campus that will be built in the Spring District and open to its 1,200 employees by 2020.

In September, construction began on a three-story, 86,000-square-foot building in the Spring District that will house the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX), a graduate school focused on technology and innovation. The institution received a $40 million investment from Microsoft, is a partnership between the University of Washington and Tsinghua University in Beijing, and is expected to open its doors to students this fall. Approximately 3,000 students are expected to be enrolled at GIX by 2025.

Finally, when the 14-mile, $3.7 billion East Link light rail project connecting to Seattle to Redmond is completed in 2023, it will include a station in the Spring District.

Cindy Edens, senior vice president and director of development at Wright Runstad, recalled standing on a warehouse rooftop 11 years ago, surveying the future Spring District site, and questioning whether it was possible to turn what was largely then a Safeway distribution center into a mixed-use urban center.

“But there’s nothing else like this,” said Edens.