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Originally published July 29, 2010 at 7:35 PM | Page modified July 29, 2010 at 9:17 PM

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Developer Touchstone talks about new plans for downtown Bellevue Superblock

While other developers may be hunkering down, Seattle-based Touchstone is working on deals to accommodate what founder Douglas Howe calls the "next wave" of demand.

Seattle Times business reporter

While other developers may be hunkering down, Seattle-based Touchstone is working on deals to accommodate what founder Douglas Howe calls the "next wave" of demand.

Howe said Thursday that Touchstone hopes to break ground in 2012 on a 15-story office, hotel and retail complex on part of downtown Bellevue's "Superblock."

He called that complex "phase one," but wouldn't reveal what subsequent Superblock phases might entail.

Howe also said Touchstone is working to assemble property in Seattle's Denny Triangle area, around the intersection of Boren Avenue and Stewart Street, for office, technology and hotel projects.

How much property?

"Blocks," Howe said. He wouldn't say how many.

Howe's remarks came at a gathering of local members of the National Association of Office and Industrial Properties, and in a follow-up interview.

Touchstone has been developing property in the Seattle area for 20 years. Its projects include the new West 8th office tower, the Ninth & Stewart Life Sciences Building and the 330,000-square-foot Northgate North retail complex.

Howe said he expects the commercial real-estate market will start to turn around in 2012. Demand for office space will exceed supply, he said, creating opportunities for developers to build new projects for large users.

Touchstone has a partner ready to provide financing for the Bellevue complex, Howe said, and a tentative commitment from a firm he would not identify to occupy half the project's office space.

Bellevue's 10-acre Superblock is bounded by Northeast Eighth and 10th streets and 106th and 108th avenues Northeast. Its owner, Wasatch Development of Salt Lake City, built the two-tower Washington Square condominiums in the block's northwest quadrant and announced plans to redevelop the remainder with high-rises as well.

When the market turned south, however, it began looking for buyers or development partners.


Howe revealed in December that Touchstone had a tentative deal to buy the Superblock's southwest quadrant. At the time, he said his firm was looking at a 9-story complex there.

The project's hotel would have about 250 rooms, Howe said Thursday. Before development can proceed, contaminants from a dry cleaner once at the site must be dealt with, he said.

In Seattle, parking lots cover most of the Denny Triangle blocks around Boren and Stewart that Touchstone is eyeing. The developer acquired one small building near that intersection in 2007, and another earlier this year.

Zoning there allows nonresidential buildings up to 340 feet tall, and residential buildings up to 400 feet tall.

Touchstone projects farther down the pipeline include a controversial redevelopment and expansion of Kirkland's Parkplace shopping center, and a 5-story, 228,000-square-foot office or biotech project called Northedge, just north of Gas Works Park in Seattle.

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or

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