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Bellevue ‘absolutely a competitor to Seattle’ in 2019

(Sounder Bruce, Flickr Creative Commons)

Bellevue has long been seen as a satellite city to Seattle, operating as its smaller eastern neighbor. Those days could be coming to an end, though, as large businesses begin to pack up and move to the Eastside.

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I think (Bellevue) really is on par now — I would say it absolutely is a competitor to Seattle,” Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross on Seattle’s Morning News.

That includes news out of Amazon in August 2018, when the company announced that it would be taking over the Expedia’s Bellevue headquarters in 2020, making way for around 4,500 workers.

The tower will be the second Amazon occupies in downtown Bellevue, as it joins a handful of other companies in boosting the city’s real estate market.

“You’ve got lease rates, which in general are higher than they are in Seattle, [and] you’ve got vacancy rates that are lower. Really it’s come into its own,” noted Gardner.

That growing housing market walks hand in hand with the decision of many companies to leave Seattle in the first place.

“I think as much an interest to me than anything else is the proximity to housing that you see more so on the Eastside than you see in the city of Seattle — I think that could be driving some companies to Bellevue,” said Gardner.

And while companies like Amazon only recently decided to make inroads into the Eastside, that trend actually started almost two decades ago.

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“This whole thing started with Symetra Financial back in the late ‘90s, creating their global headquarters in Bellevue and not Seattle,” described Gardner. “Everyone wondered why, and essentially their decision was made around ‘where did their employees work, and we want to be closer to them.'”

Gardner said that this could just be the beginning for the thriving Easside metropolis, predicting “more in the way of residential development” in the downtown area in the near future.

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