Hotel Online Special Report

300-room Ritz-Carlton and 550-room Marriott 
Going Up in Bellevue, Washington
BELLEVUE, Wash - May 27, 1999--The region's first Ritz-Carlton hotel and a 550-room Marriott will be joined by upscale retailers, restaurants, and movie theaters in the complex known locally as Meydenbauer Place, it was announced today.

The hotel deal, plus firm commitments for half the center's retail space, make it possible for the $300 million, 1.5 million-square-foot entertainment complex to move forward. "The Palladium Center" -- newly named for the project's New York-based managing partner -- will be built next to the Meydenbauer Center convention facility in downtown Bellevue.

The announcement was made today by the project's three developers

  • Palladium Company Chairman Stephen M. Ross and President Kenneth A. Himmel; 
  • Jeffrey J. Rhodes of The Rhodes Company; 
  • and Connie Grant, of Bellevue's Tochterman Management Group. 
Spokesmen from The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., Marriott and General Cinema joined in making the announcement.

Palladium Center will share the highly visible superblock at Northeast 8th St. and 112th Ave. Northeast with the Meydenbauer Center. It will complement the regional meeting place with 850 hotel rooms, upscale retail shops and restaurants, 14 movie screens, 2,200 new underground parking stalls, and a 27,000-square-foot open-air plaza. Meydenbauer Center is proceeding with its own plans to expand the 150,000-square-foot facility by another 125,000 square feet.

Four nationally acclaimed restaurants -- three of them new to the Northwest -- announced plans to be part of Palladium Center: The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Il Fornaio. General Cinema reconfirmed its plan to build a 3,200-seat, 14-screen multiplex.

Two New York-based real estate banking firms, Sonnenblick-Goldman Company and The Greenwich Group International LLC, will secure financing.

"With commitments from The Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, General Cinema and four highly successful national restaurants, we're thrilled to say that the project is now ready to complete its final financing and move into construction," said Palladium's Ken Himmel. Equity financing for the total project is more than 50 percent in place, he said, citing as sources Marriott International, a national pension fund that finances Palladium's retail projects nationally, and the developers. He expressed confidence that the hotel and retail commitments will attract financing quickly.

The project plan, as it was launched in 1997, called for a 21-story office tower and only one hotel, in addition to retail and entertainment. Those plans were placed on hold last year when the international financing market soured and several other highrise office projects in downtown Bellevue promised to compete for Eastside tenants.

Confidence in the Eastside economy and Marriott's desire to establish a major presence on the Eastside convinced Palladium Center developers to replace their office tower with a second hotel. "The Ritz-Carlton and Marriott bring Palladium Center the strongest hotel brands in the world and together give Bellevue the edge in becoming a major regional destination for group meetings and business travelers," said development partner Ken Himmel.
Palladium Center as seen from the corner of NE 6th Street and 110th Avenue NE in Bellevue. Foreground: Ritz-Carlton Bellevue (left) and retail section (right). Background: Marriott Hotel Bellevue (center) and
Meydenbauer Center convention facility (right). *Rendering by NBBJ Architects, Seattle 
The 16-story, 300-room Ritz-Carlton Bellevue will be the first Ritz-Carlton in the Northwest and the Eastside's first five-star hotel. The luxury hotel will provide upscale accommodations for leisure travelers and executives. Amenities will include 17,500 square feet of meeting and banquet space, two restaurants, and a full-service health club.

The 16-story, 550-room four-star Marriott Bellevue will be Meydenbauer Center's long-awaited convention hotel. The

400,000-square-foot hotel will complement the convention center with 33,200 more square feet of meeting and banquet space, and a 150-seat specialty restaurant.

According to Palladium National Leasing Director Mitch Friedel, Palladium Center's restaurants are "the most dynamic and successful" in the industry and will ensure diners a "world-class dining experience with each and every visit."

California-based Cheesecake Factory will build its first restaurant in the Northwest at Palladium Center. Operating in 29 locations nationwide, the Cheesecake Factory has established a reputation for dynamic and moderately priced casual dining. Its fans rave about the variety of choices on the Cheesecake Factory menu --including specialty pizzas, steaks, pastas and, of course, its famous selection of cheesecakes. Cheesecake Factory Chairman and CEO David Overton said that he chose Palladium Center over other Puget Sound sites for its "outstanding potential to be an exceptional retail development." The Cheesecake Factory will occupy 10,000 square feet.

Phoenix-based P.F. Chang's China Bistro offers a unique blend of traditional Chinese cuisine served in a contemporary and upscale American cafe-style setting. Dishes are prepared-to-order in high temperature woks; its exhibition kitchen adds energy and drama to the atmosphere. An extensive wine list of more than 40 varieties additionally distinguishes P.F. Chang's from other Asian restaurants. Chang's operates 26 restaurants nationwide and received the `Hot Concepts Award' from "Nations Restaurant News" in 1996. The 7,000-square-foot Palladium Center restaurant will be Changs' first in the Northwest.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar is a new upscale steakhouse concept on the national restaurant scene with plans to open steakhouses in 8-10 prosperous communities nationwide over the next two years. The California-based Fleming's operates high-quality,steakhouses, serving the finest cuts of meats, poultry and seafood and more than 100 wines by the glass. The Palladium Center Fleming's will occupy 7,500 square feet. Fleming's opened its first steakhouse in Newport Beach, Calif., late last year, followed by a second in Scottsdale, Ariz. More Fleming's openings are planned in the near future for San Diego and other major U.S. markets.

Il Fornaio will open its second authentic Italian restaurant in the Puget Sound Region at Palladium Center, following its successful debut last fall in Seattle's Pacific Place. The 8,000-square-foot white tablecloth Italian restaurant will offer an extensive menu of house-made pasta, poultry and game roasted over a wood-fired rotisserie, meat and fish grilled over charcoal, and pizza baked in a wood-burning oven. The restaurant will feature Il Fornaio's famous breads and specialty products. Palladium's Ken Himmel expects Eastsiders to have a huge appetite for Il Fornaio. "Eastsiders are well-traveled," he reasoned, "and appreciate the difference between authentic and `Americanized' Italian cuisine."

General Cinema announced completion of its lease agreement to build a 14-screen, 3,200-seat multi-level theater at Palladium Center. At approximately 80,000 square feet, the multiplex will be Bellevue's largest collection of movie theaters. Stadium-style seating will ensure unobstructed viewing of first-run commercial feature films and independently produced art films. Two of the theaters -- called premium auditoriums -- will be intimate screening rooms equipped with oversized seats, a private lounge, kitchen and bar.

William Doeren, General Cinema's president and chief executive officer, announced General Cinema's plan for Palladium Center in 1997 and has remained committed to the complex for its "excellent location and dedication to quality." General Cinema opened a multiplex at Seattle's Pacific Place last fall, and is operating the newly refurbished, state-of-the-art Cinerama for owner Paul Allen.

Palladium Center co-developer Ken Himmel founded The Palladium Company with Stephen Ross in 1997 to develop entertainment-enhanced retail properties as part of market-dominant mixed-use projects. It specializes in projects that incorporate state-of-the-art multiplex theaters, sports and cultural event facilities, art film theaters, destination and theme restaurants, and a broad mix of the nation's most exciting home, lifestyle, apparel and entertainment retailers.

Other Palladium entertainment, retail and mixed-use centers under development include: The Palladium at Columbus Centre in New York City and The Palladium at Nassau Sports  Performance Center in New York City; The Palladium at CityPlace in West Palm Beach, Fla.; The Palladium at Kenmore Square in Boston, and The Palladium at Birmingham in Birmingham, Mich.

Palladium's Himmel and co-developer Jeffrey Rhodes have collaborated on some notable mixed-use projects, including Chicago's Water Tower Place, Copley Place in Boston, and Pacific Place and Nordstrom's flagship store in downtown Seattle.

Palladium Center will be built on land owned and managed by Bellevue's Tochterman family. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2000 followed by a spring 2002 opening.

The Rockey Company
Anne Foster/Katy Strausborger, 206/728-1100
Tochterman Management Group
Connie Grant, 425/454-9977
Rubenstein  Associates (The Palladium Company)
Dawn Rowan, 212/843-8088
Also See: Starwood to Joint Venture with Lincoln Square, LLC on 304 Room Westin in Bellevue, WA / Feb 1999 

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