Bridge, Touchstone and GGLO to develop Sound Transit site near Spring District

Sound Transit put out a request for proposals last December for affordable housing developers at its Operations and Maintenance Facility, aka OMF East, near the Spring District and its light rail station. This week Bridge Development announced it had been selected for the project at (or near) 1601 120th Ave. N.E.

The nonprofit says it’ll partner with local firm Touchstone and Essex Property Trust to develop the roughly 6.7 acres just north of Audi Nation. North of that, Sound Transit’s $450 million light rail maintenance facility is now under construction on about 21 acres. It’s expected to open in 2023 — along with the rest of the line to Redmond.

The 6.7 acres are now being used for
OMF East construction staging, so new development will have to wait for that project to wrap.

The new mixed-use plan, by GGLO, isn’t restricted to affordable housing. RPFs could also include offices — Touchstone’s specialty — retail and market-rate housing. For now, GGLO’s master plan has six buildings, but that could change.

Thus, the general plan, which hasn’t yet entered design review, is for 280 affordable units, about 220 market-rate units (to be developed by Essex), over 400,000 square feet of offices, retail and amenity space, and a public park. Bridge values the project at around $500 million.

King County and A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH) have already committed about $14 million to the project.

Sound Transit will have to approve the deal, probably by next spring. The original plan was to ground lease the property, after the agency and city of Bellevue completed a land swap. (Bridge calls it a donation.) Sound Transit had also indicated last year that it might sell the land, which it valued at $36 million.

Touchstone’s Pat Callahan said in a statement, “With the thousands of new jobs set to arrive in Bellevue over the next few years, it’s imperative to also add new office space, affordable housing, retail and open spaces near transit. We’re excited and hope to continue to advance our concept with the Sound Transit team.”

Bridge CEO Cynthia Parker said, “Jobs, homes, transit, retail and green space: this site brings a winning combination of equitable benefits to the community.” Bridge expects to make units affordable to households earning between 30% and 80% of area median income.

GGLO will also be the architect for the apartments; and that firm will design the landscape architecture for the entire unnamed project. Touchstone hasn’t announced its architect for the offices.

The city has already approved a master development permit (MDP) that would allow six buildings, 1.2 million square feet (total) and around 60,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and ground- floor commercial use.

Essex, a public REIT based in Palo Alto, Calif., is no stranger to our market. It has bought and sold apartment projects on both sides of Lake Washington. It generally hires general contractors, rather than self- performing that role. Bridge says the overall joint proposal is committed to 21% diversity among contractors, vendors and consultants.

Essex has about 60,000 units in over 247 communities in our state, California and Oregon. Among its local ground-up projects was the Eastlake 2851 apartments, with 133 units, which were developed circa 2008. Its current market capitalization is around $26 billion.

Bridge is meanwhile partnering with Community Roots Housing (formerly Capitol Hill Housing) on 232 affordable units at Northgate Station, another TOD project.

Renderings by Sound Transit

Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce – Brian Miller, Real Estate Editor

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Eric Richards