The content for this article was originally featured in Forbes Magazine on February 22, 2019.
The first InterContinental Hotel in the Pacific Northwest will make its debut in Bellevue, Washington as part of Avenue Bellevue, a highly-anticipated project also featuring 332 luxury residences and 85,000 square feet of high-end retail space, including a restaurant from three Michelin-star Chef Joshua Skenes.
The first development of its kind in Bellevue, its two signature high-rise towers will not only change the city’s skyline but will set a new standard for architecture, residential design and luxury hospitality in a mixed-use environment.
“I have lived in this area for about 20 years and have watched it become a center of gravity for innovation,” said Andy Lakha, CEO of Fortress Development and the visionary behind this project. “Seattle and Bellevue are now truly global cities, and the world is watching what we do here. It is my feeling that we need hotels and residences that reflect that position.”
Lakha started his commercial real estate career in the Seattle area in the ‘90s, owning and operating convenience stores and gas stations. After being approached by major chains like McDonald’s and Walgreens, who wanted to buy and develop his properties, he decided to develop them himself, constructing buildings to spec and leasing them back to retail tenants.
He progressed to strip malls and shopping centers, renovating and up leveling the type of retail tenants they could attract. Although he’s worked in a variety of cities around the country and developed other mixed-use projects, he calls Avenue Bellevue “the biggest and most important project of my life.”
Because of this, Lakha spent more than two years choosing his dream team. He conducted a national search for architects and designers, ultimately choosing Weber Thompson and Collins Woerman, both based in Seattle.