Think BRINC…a Catalyst Development for BelRed

brinc logo

The BelRed Incubator

BRINC: The Bel-Red Incubator was and is a proposal for a catalyst real estate development project sited in the heart of the future business district of Bel-Red Corridor in Bellevue, Washington. Bel-Red’s newly zoned (900 plus acres) district offers a perfect frontier for creative and entrepreneurial settlements, new retail and residential communities. BRINC, a potential first “bold stroke” in this rezoned corridor, could ignite more development and provide a strategic link to the creative and knowledge-based industries, now anchored in and around Microsoft Corporate campus, as well as to the downtown Bellevue business core.

the BRINC site mapped on to Transit plan

This project was developed in 2009 by the BRINC Development Team as part of the UW’s Commercial Real Estate Program. Team members included Architect, Kate Wells Driscoll, Real Estate Portfolio Advisor, William Riley, Commercial Loan Analyst, Heidi Stacy Ehrbar and myself, Cultural Entrepreneur and Arts Commissioner. Our mission was to provide an innovation-focused market strategy and to develop a catalyst real estate asset targeted toward the creative and knowledge-based industries on the Eastside.

This development closely aligns with the City of Bellevue’s planning and transportation plan to foster environmental, economic and cultural interests in the area. Our team studied the City of Bellevue’s innovative redevelopment plan for the Corridor, a long-term vision with an economically vital future. We were guided by  UWCRE program lead, Jim Reinhardsen (Heartland), along with a formidable team of mentors which included: Steve Walker (Heartland LLC), Charlie Hafenbrack (GLY Construction), Lisa Picard (Muse), Jim Friesz and Kirsten Murray (Olson Kundig Architects). And, Dana Behar (HAL Real Estate Investments) was a member of our Equity Review Panel…(THANK YOU, Mentors!). Our development strategy was to maximize the potential of our site’s new RC-1 zoning and build a new, transit-oriented, mixed use development timed to coincide with the completion of adjacent Sound Transit’s Eastlink light rail station…which, for our proposal purposes, we named: THE BRINC LINK.

BRINC: The Bel-Red Incubator and Lofts is a 132,000sf arts/technology incubator facility, providing workforce housing (75 apts, 7 live/work lofts, 45,000 sf office, 7000sf sound recording studios/motion capture lab, 15,000sf of street front retail and cultural amenities) is targeted toward the growing fields of digital, interactive media and game technology on the Eastside. It is timed coincide with adjacent EastLink light rail system and is closely aligned with City’s forward thinking urban planning, transportation and cultural development plans.

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BRINC: phased design/development for art/tech incubator and live/work lofts, 2009

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Residential units

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Street front retail, live/work units

Below grade parking, studios for sound recording, design/fabrication, motion capture lab

Below grade parking, studios for sound recording, design/fabrication, motion capture lab

Throughout the development of the proposal, our team met with City of Bellevue planners, local business owners, regional economic development leaders, real estate professionals as well as Sound Transit planning staff to inform our development process.

We reached out to artists and arts associated businesses to identify the cultural root system presently occupying the Corridor. They include Donn Bennett Drum Studio, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Francia Russell Performing Arts Center, Mike Lull Guitar Works, Evolution Studios, Northwest Guitars, American Music and Mills Music. Useful economic, population, land use, and income data gathered from city and regional demographic studies contributed to our informed perspective. In addition, we partnered with Wagglelabs to conduct a targeted regional questionnaire study gathered useful data about the current uses of industrial/office space, technology, existing studio and work spaces, housing needs and preferences to advance creative and technical innovation goals. See full report: Art and Technology Incubation for Technology Creatives in the Northwest: A Questionnaire Study Our target community of technology creatives was most interested in knowledge sharing, collaborative opportunities and incubation space. We researched other inspiring creative incubator and fablab models including Eyebeam, MIT Media Lab, Carnegie Mellon Center for Creative Inquiry, UW DX Arts Lab and others. Our study results identified a regional need for flexible office space, creative live/work housing and art/tech/media incubation resources and greatly informed the design and programming of our mixed-use development.

cultural asset map of Bel-Red, 2009

cultural asset map of Bel-Red, 2009


population growth


social group demographic


population density

As part of our UW Commercial Real Estate Program, we presented our completed “Real Estate Strategy and Analysis for a Mixed Use Redevelopment in the Bel-Red Corridor”, complete with financial models, market rationale, building design, funding strategy, zoning analysis, risk assessment and exit strategy, to a distinguished review panel of lenders for their feedback. And had they granted us our loan, we would be breaking ground in the Spring of 2014…with construction complete in 24 months.

This was one amazing project…an ambitious initiative to leverage the emerging opportunities in the Bel-Red Corridor by acquiring an existing, income producing property in the “sweet spot” of the future business district.  Our phased, mixed use development, is well positioned for future redevelopment and will act as a catalyst for neighboring properties and spur cultural and entrepreneurial business development interests in the area.

$6.200,000…that’s the loan amount we asked our distinguished panel of lenders for. In 2009, that would have covered the purchase of the property and would allow for the development process to begin. The climate is changing everyday…the outlooks is much brighter than it was in 2009 and the transportation plans are becoming a reality. But until that check arrives, we will further “develop” a dialogue with this BRINC blog…one that engages Eastside citizens, city planners and policy makers, devolopers, digital creatives, and others. Together we can explore how sustainable, cultural infrastructure and real estate assets that generate economic value and public benefit are best created in Bellevue, the Eastside communities, the PNW and beyond.


BRINC rendering, by Kate Wells-Driscoll, 2009

Hard Hat Tour of BYT

Bellevue Arts Commission Hard Hat Tour of Bellevue Youth Theater

Arts Commission Hard Hat Tour of Bellevue Youth Theater

Can hardly believe it…the new BYT building is more than underway. On October 15, 2013, the Arts Commission got a private hard hat tour with City of Bellevue staff members Shelly Brittingham, Mary Pat Byrne, Scott McDonald and BYT Director, James McLaine and fellow BAC Commissioner Trudi Jackson. The Gold LEED certified structure is taking shape. After a summer of digging, the foundational work is being done. Some of the concrete walls are up and it’s beginning to take shape. The scale of the building is becoming visible now. The geothermal system is getting put in place as the structural elements are coming together.

First Walls up of the new BYT Theater

First walls up of the new theater building in Crossroads Park

Becker Architect’s design plan


Visions of Eastside Artist Live/Work Space

Vision Five, Redmond, Washington

Vision Five, Redmond, Washington

Another interesting “cultural space” development is Redmond’s Vision 5 project. It was unveiled at Redmond’s recent Feedback Festival, the city’s very fresh approach to engaging citizens in the development of their Arts Master Plan. The Vision 5 development’s mission is to become the Eastside’s most dynamic and affordable art community. Yes indeed…many, many artists of all disciplines live on the Eastside. Westsiders…you know you’re curious…so I’l be lookin’ for you at the open house. As Bellevue moves forward with a new Comprehensive Plan, Transportation Plan and an update to the Cultural Compass, I thought I’d share the 2009 research study I conducted with esteemed colleagues, Shelley Farnham and Kate Wells-Driscoll. Given all of these regional development, the results of our study are more relevant now than ever. Our arts/tech incubation study was part of a larger effort to inform our respective community building efforts. We gathered useful data about the current uses of industrial/office space, technology, existing studio and work spaces, housing needs, collaborative interest and preferences to advance creative and technical innovation goals. Our target community was most interested in knowledge sharing, collaborative opportunities and incubation space. Our study results identified a regional need for flexible office space, creative live/work housing and art/tech/media incubation resources. This data greatly informed the design and programming of the Real Estate Strategy and Analysis for BRINC: The Bel-Red Incubator & Live/Work Lofts.

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Selected excerpts:

ABSTRACT At the intersection of art and technology there is an emerging community of innovative, creative, and entrepreneurial individuals and groups with unique requirements for educational resources, collaboration opportunities, and work and living spaces. In order to better understand this emerging community of technology creatives we distributed a questionnaire, requesting information about current creative uses of technology, existing studio and work spaces, and preferences and needs to meet creative goals. We found that this community is largely comprised of individuals who have careers in technology, but were pursuing artistic interests. They were particularly seeking knowledge sharing and collaborative opportunities, with many expressing an interest in shared or membership-based incubation spaces for access to other people. They reported that time was more a constraint than financial limitations. Based on our study results, we provide recommendations for the development of resources to help meet these. Screen shot 2013-05-21 at 7.44.17 PM “We found that the targeted community of technology creatives is largely comprised of individuals who have careers in technology, but were pursuing creative interests in the domains of visual arts, maker projects, and entrepreneurial projects.  The open-ended responses to the questionnaire provided a rich image of creative technologists who worked in the software industry (software engineers, web designers) but who were actively interested and pursuing projects that incorporate more physical computing: wanting education and access to electronics, metalworking, microcontrollers, prototyping machines, and so forth.  In other words, people who used technology for more ephemeral digital software in their day jobs sought to incorporate technology into more physical projects in their creative pursuits.” “They were particularly interested in knowledge sharing, networking, and collaborative opportunities, with many expressing an interest in a shared, membership based incubation space for access to other people.  Those who did collaborate indicated their collaboration groups tended to be 3-5 people.  Even those who worked primarily on solitary projects expressed an interest in shared spaces because of exposure to knowledge and conversation around creative projects.  These results are consistent with reports of the creative process described by Gardner in Creating Minds [12], where he illustrates that even solitary writers such as Tolkein were creatively inspired by regular meetings where they describe their works to each other.” “For this population of technology creatives, lack of time and education were the greatest constraints in their creative pursuits, not finances — which is distinct from other types of artists.  Many reported they already had a space for independent projects, and were particularly interested in collaboration spaces for access to peer education and discussion.”

Ride the Wave, Name that Station!

Sound Transit East Link

Sound Transit East Link

So I get it…naming a transit station is not nearly as entertaining as naming the next British Royal. But it should be. Sound Transit’s East Link Extension design and station naming process is well underway. Ride the Wave! The City of Bellevue will be engaging stakeholders in further station naming efforts in the coming months before review with Council this Fall. Screen shot 2013-07-19 at 1.48.21 AM Open Transit design…a design process that leverages all things open data, open source, open process…in the service of achieving successful, innovative and inspired community-centered design solutions…intrigues me. It, like many other “open” initiatives, engages community in fun, creative and unprecedented ways. I am trying to learn more about this. This is an interesting article by Peter David Cabaluzzi Faia, describing a new approach to transit design: Open Transit Design: Why Station Designed for Non-Transit Users Are Most Successful. Fresh approaches to engagement to like these have the potential to be transformative tools in urban planning and community development.

City of Bellevue's "preferred alternative" map with 'cultural/arts district" identified (2009)

City of Bellevue’s “preferred alternative” map with ‘cultural/arts district” identified (2009)

The City of Bellevue’s vision for Bel-Red and the pioneering opportunities to ignite a wide range of economic, cultural, and community development there are inspiring. The rezone planning process allowed for the City and Commissions to collectively draft a plan for Bel-Red that included a vision for a vibrant arts/cultural district in the heart of BelRed, a perfect frontier for creative and entrepreneurial industry settlements. With this plan, Bellevue has an opportunity to create some differentiated urban and cultural spaces that compliment those in the Downtown. That differentiation really begins with the naming process. Below is the Sound Transit naming criteria that has been given:

  • Reflect the nature of the environment: neighborhoods, street names, landmarks, plus geographical locations
  • Be brief and easy to read and remember
  • Comply with federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines and requirements and be limited to 30 characters
  • Avoid commercial references because they may change, prove confusing to the public and be costly to change
  • Avoid similar names or words in existing facility names
Personally, for the 130th Street Station, I’m rallying for a name that stakes claim to this arts/cultural district rooted there. An ‘arts district’ station name seems a most appropriate station moniker. Perhaps a “Cultural Arts District (CAD)” Station. It’s proximity to the historic Cadman Concrete Hopper, Bellevue’s industrial icon, has added historical dimension.  

The Cadman Hopper in Bellevue. (photo: G. Tremblay)

The Cadman Hopper (photo: Gen Tremblay)

An Arts District Station moniker telegraphs the exisitng and soon to be rooted arts/cultural businesses in BelRed. Donn Bennett Drum Studio, Bellevue Art & Frame, Mike Lull Guitar Works, Northwest Guitars, Evolution Studios, American Music, Mills Music…and the jewel in the crown, Pacific Northwest Ballet School/Francia Russell Performing Arts Center are all familiar Bellevue cultural assets anchored in East Bellevue near the 130th Street Station. The recent issues surrounding the route alternatives around the Pacific Northwest Ballet illuminate the critical importance of our anchor cultural asset situated in the heart of BelRed…a stone’s throw from 130th St Station. Building on this key cultural asset, with the right transit path and the right transit station name, will be critical to creating an our East Bellevue arts/cultural district.

Pacific Northwest Ballet/Francia Russell Performing Arts Center, Bellevue, WA

Pacific Northwest Ballet/Francia Russell Performing Arts Center, Bellevue, WA

On July 31, 2013, King County is hosting  Open House for the Eastside Rail Corridor at Bellevue City Hall. This informational event is an opportunity to learn more about how the region is working together to maximize the benefits of the rail corridor between Renton and Woodinville. County staff will be on hand to answer questions, and comment cards will allow residents to share thoughts on what they would like to see for the corridor. ST has engaged the public in this process by offering surveys online for a short period of time around each open house during design open houses. There are currently no online surveys available, but you can still send in your station name ideas to Sound Transit. That, and stay tuned for Bellevue’s stakeholder engagement opportunities too. I’ll keep you posted. If you are down with the idea of an Arts District in BelRed or if you have other naming ideas…WEIGH IN…at!
More on the East Link Project

Cultural Space…the Final Frontier!

We may have given up on NASA discovering new galaxies in space, but here in the NW, we’re working on exploring the far reaching corners of our community to discover and cultivate cultural space! Not long ago, I heard the exciting new that Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture has launched its Cultural Space Program, appointing Matthew Richter to lead the charge. Exciting, indeed, given his catalyzing work over the years as arts entrepreneur and his recent work at Shunpike with the Storefronts Program.

Screen shot 2013-06-02 at 2.03.41 AMBellevue, in fact, has been working with Matthew to develop Storefronts Bellevue. “Storefronts Bellevue is a neighborhood activation program, helping communities with vacant storefront spaces in an attempt to revitalize the urban cores of our city. We bring life, brightness, marketing, security and walkability back to our sidewalks. Storefronts Bellevue programs a series of arts installations and pop-up galleries and other creative enterprises in short-term uses of vacant retail spaces. Roughly every three to four months, a different project will inhabit and activate an empty space, until that space rents to a commercial tenant.”

Medical Genetics and Art meet on the Eastside

Robin Bennett and the UW Genetic Counselors at "Chromosome Paintings", 2011

Robin Bennett and the UW Genetic Counselors at “Chromosome Paintings”, 2011

In 2009, I brought my esteemed colleagues, Geraldine Ondrizek and Robin Bennett, together to embark on a collaboration at the convergence of art and medical science. It took the shape of an immersive arts residency that was based on the research of the genetics scientists at UW and is now culminating in an exhibition at Kirkland Arts Center. This partnership inspired a new, seminal body of work for Ondrizek. The upcoming exhibition at Kirkland Arts Center, CHROMOSOME PAINTING, showcases three bodies of work generated from Ondrizek’s two-year residency with the department of Medical Genetics at the University of Washington. It includes the artist’s explorations, prototypes and final commissioned work, “Chromosome 17″, as well as new work made specifically for the Kirkland Arts Center.

Geraldine Ondrizek is a research-based artist and professor at Reed College. Her work ignites interest and inquiry about the influence of cancer and other diseases on both individuals and entire families. She relies heavily on scientific inquiry, focusing on documenting biological specimens and exploring systems of categorization. She works closely with genetic scientists to trace ethnic identities, portray life spans, and depict genetically inherited conditions. Robin Bennett, one of the most prominent genetic counselors in the nation, teaches human genetics at the UW Medical School. She pioneers genetic counseling practices that have become standard worldwide. As a community catalyst and public scholar, I integrate research, teaching, service, and public engagement in my curatorial practice. A formidable interdisciplinary trifecta, making genetic information more accessible, more visible and better understood was the goal of our team in creating this partnership, the public art commission and the exhibition.

In order to properly commemorate the 50 years of Medical Genetics/Genetic Medicine Clinic at the University of Washington Medical Center through her commission, Ondrizek dove deeply into the groundbreaking work of the UW scientists… Founder, Arno Motulsky, M.D. (colorblindness, pharmacogenetics), Peter Byers, M.D. (osteogenesis imperfecta, inherited aneurysms, Ehlers-Danlos syndromes and other collagen disorders), Wendy Raskind MD, PhD. (dystonias, myokymia, myopathies, and ataxias), Mary-Claire King, Ph.D. (HIV, lupus, inherited deafness, breast and ovarian cancer), and Dr. Philip J. Fialkow (leukemia) to name a few.

Chromosome 17, G. Ondrizek, UW Medical Genetics, 2011

“Chromosome 17” is the public artwork that was commissioned by the department of Medical Genetics at the University of Washington, is made of dyed and embroidered silk and engraved plexiglass and uses the National Center for Biotechnical Information (NCBI) database of the human genome as a resource to artistically map technologically derived gene sequences.

Geraldine Ondrizek’s exquisite limited edition silk panel/scarves of the 23 Chromosomes with genetic markers for Cancer (Prostate and Testicular, Ovarian, Colon, Gastric, Ovarian, Hepatocellular, Melanoma, Bladder, Oral Cancer, Breast, Pancreatic, Leukemia and Leukemia t-cell acute, Lymphoma and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) are on exhibit now at Kirkland Arts Center through July 6. They are also available online. Learn more, view/purchase: GO Forward Design

Ondrizek’s silk scarves

I’m excited to share this multi-faceted endeavor with you and hope to engage a broader audience with this exhibition, one that extends beyond the art community to include the medical community, the cancer research and survivorship communities.  I thank you for sharing this with others you think will have an interest in this work.

Chromosome Painting, G. Ondrizek, Lightboxes, 2012

Kirkland Art Center presents: CHROMOSOME PAINTING and works from a commission for the University of Washington Division of Medical Genetics, GERALDINE ONDRIZEK  Curated by Genevieve Gaiser Tremblay   May 25 – July 6, 2012, Kirkland Arts Center. Here are links to (UW and 4Culture) writings about this work:


This exhibition is being funded in part by  the Oregon Arts Commision, The Ford Foundation and the Stillman Drake Fund, Reed College.

4Culture is funding 3 public scholarship forums. My contribution to this project is dedicated to my eldest sister, Loretto Gaiser, who recently passed away from Leukemia.

STEAMBOT: A Fusion of Alloys and Allies

Steambots at the Hazard Factory, Seattle WA, 2010

“Hybrid thinking” …it’s what is going on in the minds of successful innovators, according to Dev Patnaik, founder and chief executive of Silicon Valley growth strategy firm Jump.  He defines it as “the conscious blending of different fields of thought to discover and develop opportunities that were previously unseen by the status quo …”. By nature, “hybrid” thinkers embrace new vantage points. They create new connections and landmarks. So, just what happens when you cross-pollinate a handful of creative hybrids?

Steambot is a collaborative exhibition up now at the Kirkland Arts Center, featuring artwork that combines both current and Industrial Age technologies. In creating the curatorial model for Steambot, Cable Griffith and I stewarded a thoughtful and flexible process that allowed these artists with diverse backgrounds to mine each others’ expertise, share studio practices and develop effective working relationships. Our aim was to set up the gallery itself as a working platform for their collaboration. With generous funding from 4Culture’s Group Arts Project Grant (we heart 4C!), Steambot became an incubator, a collaboratory, a fablab, an heritage archives and a virtual community hub.

Starting with an architectural landmark as muse (the Peter Kirk building)…and toggling between to industrial eras, these 5 hybrid thinkers, Rusty Oliver, Pat Gallagher, Rebecca Cummins, Randy Moss and Simon Winder, explored ideas around industrial heritage, technological advances, craftsmanship and collective authorship. They honed new skills and forged meaningful partnerships while creating a body of work together.

Peter Kirk’s imagined steel hub, along with a veritable palette of archival ideas including oracles, time travels, Victorian Spiritualism, magnetic fields, weights and measures, recoding instrumentation, telegraph, early astronomical devices, clear cut forests, powered flight, X-ray technology, diatoms, steam powered turbines, steel mills, helium balloons, Morse code, rotoscopes, stereoptics, dirigibles, telegraphic cameras, portraiture were investigated by the group. These notions served as fertile ground for collaborations and blue prints for potential fabrications. The result…a steam engine generating powerful, poignant and whimsical site specific works of art that speak to place, partnership and possibility.

ALL ABOARD, STEAMBOT…before it pulls out of the Kirkland station on Dec. 3, 2010.

Kirkland Arts Center (620 Market St, Kirkland, WA 98033 | (425) 822-7161)

Photo credit : Steambot portraits by Marty Oppenheimer. From left to right: Randy Moss, Simon Winder, Rebecca Cummins, Patrick Gallagher, Rusty Oliver, Cable Griffith, Genevieve Tremblay