Less than a half mile from downtown Bellevue, WA, lies Ridgewood Corporate Square, a sprawling seven-building park-like office campus nestled amid 14 acres of lush greenery and meandering walkways. Ridgewood Corporate Square offers convenient access to nearby Seattle, the “Emerald City,” but the story of this KBS property is much more than meets the eye.
Creating Opportunities During Downturns in the Economy
Nearly 15 years ago, the Great Recession hampered the growth of many sectors and industries, including commercial real estate (CRE). The industry saw transaction volume plunge by as much as 39% from mid-2007 peak levels. During that time, KBS maintained its acquisition vision and secured the 245,312-square-foot Ridgewood Corporate Square office park in December 2009.
Maintaining the Status Quo
For nearly a decade, KBS owned and operated Ridgewood Corporate Square in the same way the previous owner had left it, making only small, relatively minimal changes as needed. Tenant occupancy was steady, between 80 and 90%. The property itself was a relatively unremarkable, homogeneous office park that reflected every year of its two-and-a-half-decade life. While its location near the crossroads of Interstates 405 and 90 was favorable, Ridgewood’s overall accessibility lacked direct access.
Raising the Stakes with Amenities
Prior to the pandemic, when several substantial leases were about to expire KBS decided to take a unique approach to renovating Ridgewood Corporate Square that would not only elevate the property from others in the area but would become the gold standard for tenant amenities in the city of Bellevue.
During the design process, KBS decided to go further than industry standards and designated more than 12,000 square feet of space for a brand-new state-of-the-art tenant amenity center that was anything but standard.
The Pandemic Shuts Down the Country
With the design in place KBS began construction in 2018. In that time the company was able to make multiple upgrades to the building and common areas, but when COVID-19 shut down the country, work on the amenity center stopped. KBS has a long history of making strategic decisions during uncertain economic times, so while Ridgewood Corporate Square experienced some project delays due to supply shortages, renovation construction continued.
The Market Takes Notice
In early 2021, Ridgewood Corporate Square finished the multimillion-dollar renovation and opened the amenity center to tenants. Even while its transformation was taking place, Ridgewood was turning heads in the local market. It was clearly a change for the better — exceeding the expectations of tenants and earning attention from other landlords in the area.
“We started getting mileage before the amenity center was even completed,” said Scott Davis, executive vice president with CBRE and Ridgewood Corporate Square leasing manager. “Nobody in the market had this and we began to get regularly visited by other building operators and tenants for benchmarking tours.”
In addition to the first-of-its-kind amenity center, tenants now have an onsite food option: Poppinjay’s Café. While Ridgewood is surrounded by a variety of alternatives for dining, shopping and entertainment, having an onsite option was one of the keys to the property’s success.
Throughout the years, the city has completed many road improvements that have greatly enhanced the property’s access to the Bellevue central business district. In 2023, work began on a light rail station that will sit directly across from Ridgewood Corporate Square, making it even easier for tenants to access the greater Seattle area.
Ridgewood offers a unique tenant experience that combines excellent property management, quality facilities and creative amenities that promoted a sense of community, safety and flexibility. KBS’ strategic flight-to-quality approach to renovating Ridgewood Corporate Square during an uncertain economic time can largely be attributed to the ongoing success of the property.
“Ridgewood Corporate Square continues to stand out in the area because we’ve raised the bar for amenities; by doing so, we’ve been able to keep the building consistently 100% leased,” says Brent Carroll, asset manager of Ridgewood Corporate Square and KBS’ senior vice president of acquisitions, dispositions and co-director of asset management. “The property has become a hidden gem that’s truly different from the rest of the market.”