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BELEVUE, WA-The 305,000-square-foot Shops at Bravern retail center opens for business here this weekend as the first new high-end retail offering in the US this year. The project is 85% leased, with 10 of the 26 signed retailers having inked their leases this year, according to its developer and minority owner Schnitzer West LLC, a joint venture of Portland, OR-based Schnitzer Investment Corp. and its local managing partner Dan Ivanoff. The majority owner is the US-based real estate group of Investcorp, which is publicly traded on the London and Bahrain stock exchanges.

The center is anchored by a 125,000-square-foot Neiman Marcus department store as well as premier boutiques such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Hermes and Tory Burch. It is also home to two-star Michelin chef Terrance Brennan’s Artisanal Brasserie and Artisanal Table restaurants, a David Barton Gym and the Red Door Spa.

The center is part of the six-acre, 1.6-million-square-foot Bravern mixed-use development situated next to Interstate 405 and the Meydenbauer Convention Center in Bellevue’s CBD. Complementing the retail is 750,000 sf of office space in two high-rise office towers that were fully preleased by Microsoft in April 2007, two 29-story residential towers containing 456 for-sale apartments that are slated for completion early next year, and subterranean parking for 3,100 cars.

Schnitzer West sold a majority stake in the project to Investcorp in 2007 in a deal valued at more than $800 million. Ivanoff was unavailable Thursday afternoon for comment. “If ever there was a time to open a retail center, it’s when the economy is driving back up,” he says in a prepared statement. “Established retailers know when to expand, and the fact they are putting their faith in The Bravern is testimony to the strength of the Bellevue market.”

The Shops at The Bravern will open with a private preview shopping event at 8 am Saturday to benefit Washington Women In Need, Dress For Success, and the Seattle and Bellevue Schools Foundation. The Shops open to the public at 10 am. Activities are planned throughout the weekend, ending with a concert by the Robert Cray Band at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

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