Bellevue's Bravern survives one year in economic doldrums


by KING 5 News

Posted on September 9, 2010 at 10:22 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 10 at 8:22 AM

BELLEVUE - Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes are not considered affordable shops for the cost-conscious. Yet, they have weathered the economic depression at Bellevue's Bravern complex.

"We've had a lot of great successes," says developer Tom Woodworth, who cites the complex's retail space, or lack there of, as an example.

The Bravern says 82 percent of retail space is full. That's after the recent departure of three businesses, including two restaurants.

But it's not all positive news.

The complex is anchored by two 33-story residential towers, with units that haven't been selling. Already, developers decided to turn one into apartments, and say they're leaning toward doing the same with the other. Those residents could be key to keeping foot traffic steady, and people in the stores and restaurants.

Critics are still skeptical.

"I think they are going to have a hard time making it in this economy, it's less than crowded," says shopper Roz Turner.

Nieman Marcus, however, says it's pleased with early results.

"It has been one of our strongest first-year performances in the past several years," said company spokesperson Ginger Reeder.

Nieman Marcus also reported sales were up 12.3 percent from July 2009 to July 2010.

Woodworth claims he's close to signing three new deals on lease space, and that half of the apartments in one tower have been rented. For him, that is reason to celebrate the complex's first birthday this weekend.

"One or two years in part of a cycle does not determine success or failure, you've really got to be in it for the long haul," he said.