BELLEVUE, WA-An 8,000-sf upscale restaurant is filling out the retail portion of Schnitzer Northwest’s Civica Office Commons, a two-tower, 300,000-sf development in Downtown Bellevue.

The locally-based property owner and developer announced today that Palisades Executive Chef John Howie will open Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar on the first floor of the south tower. Seattle architecture firm Weber+Thompson will design the restaurant, and Lease Crutcher Lewis Construction will build out the space. The restaurant is expected to open in the spring of 2002.

The development’s 12,000-sf of retail is now leased up, including a yet-to-be-named title company, a Wells Fargo retail branch and a Starbucks Coffee, says Bill Pollard of Pacific Real Estate Partners, who with partner Jeff Durrell holds the leasing assignment for the project. On the office side, Pollard says just 18,000 remains to be leased, giving the building a 94% occupancy rate in a market where the average is right around 80%.

“Attracting a major restaurant of this caliber to Civica is something that we’ve been working on for a long time,” says Schnitzer Investment Manager Greg Kletzly. Like other public areas at Civica Office Commons, patrons of the restaurant will be able to gain online access via the restaurant’s wireless Internet system. As well, the private banquet room will be equipped with the latest audio-visual technology and video-teleconferencing capability.

Chef Howie, who was represented by San Francisco broker Eric Muhlebach and Susan Zimmerman from Kidder Mathews & Segner, says he chose Civica because of its central location in the growing Bellevue market. A lack of competition didn’t hurt, either. “There are virtually no seafood restaurants in downtown Bellevue, and I saw a tremendous need and opportunity there,” says Howie, who will offer dishes blending Pacific Northwest, PAN Asian and Polynesian flavors. Seastar’s Raw Bar will include a selection of oysters and chilled seafood’s such as prawns, sushi, sashimi, and poke.

Existing Civica office tenants include Microsoft (39,000 SF), Morgan Stanley (23,000 SF), Wells Fargo (50,000 SF), Waggener Edstrom (45,000 SF), Openwave Systems, formerly (54,000 SF), Network Appliance (8,500 SF), Arthur J. Gallagher Co. of Washington (14,000 SF), Right Management Consultants (4,000SF) and Schnitzer Northwest, LLC (15,900 SF).

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