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BELLEVUE, WA-It is clear that the Bellevue City Council is interested in buying a Downtown office building owned by Qwest and turning it into a new civic center at a cost of between $300- and $350-per sf. The 298,000-sf telecommunications building is located across from Meydenbauer Center at 450 110th Ave. N.E.

At the beginning of the month GlobeSt.com reported that the city was in early consideration of the idea. During the City Council’s first public discussion of the idea this week, council members and the mayor called it a bargain and suggested it be done without raising property taxes.

The preliminary plan would be to pay Qwest $94 per sf ($28 million) for the mid-rise office building built in 1983. Renovating the building for city needs, however, could push the total project cost to between $300- and $350-per sf ($90-$105 million). By comparison, the City of Seattle is looking to build a new 350,000-sf Downtown office building for a total project cost of about $300 per sf.

Bellevue would use the Qwest building for consolidated police and fire headquarters and city departments. Instead of raising property taxes for the acquisition and renovation, the city is considering tapping reserve funds and revenue for future capital projects that could be delayed.

Qwest officials would like to close the deal by the end of the year and then lease back space until it has completed the relocation of several hundred workers to its 32-story office building located at 1600 Seventh Ave. in Downtown Seattle. If the deal is approved, it’s likely the transition to a full-service City Hall, and the relocation of its 500 employees, will not take place until 2004, according to City Manager Steve Sarkozy.

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