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Avenue Bellevue, Andy Lakha’s Future Vision for Downtown Bellevue

February 7, 2023 - by Sandy Vo

Avenue Bellevue, Andy Lakha’s Future Vision for Downtown Bellevue

Image courtesy of Fortress Development

Fortress Development’s founder and CEO, Andy Lakha, stands in his office on the 22nd floor with a pair of binoculars. His floor-to-ceiling windows provide him with an unobstructed view of what Lakha calls his ‘most ambitious project’ yet: Avenue Bellevue – slated to open summer/fall of this year.

Current development of Avenue Bellevue 

Positioned at the corner of NE 8th Street and Bellevue Way, Avenue Bellevue will be Downtown’s newest mixed-used development. The project will feature two towers of 365 condo residences, a 208 room InterContinental Hotel, and 85,000 square feet of curated retail space. Lakha recently announced that guests will be able to choose from several immersive culinary experiences, including three-Michelin Star Chef Joshua Skenes’ 10,543 sf, one of a kind, signature fine dining, new concept restaurant, which will have prominent exposure to the Avenue Plaza and to Bellevue Way.

“Washington State is an ideal environment for a restaurant menu dictated by the best of what nature provides on any given day,” Skenes said. “It’s our goal to build a truly luxurious space — without any pretentiousness and elegance without exclusivity. It is experience and comfort above all.” 

Avenue Bellevue will also feature a new restaurant brand by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and the popular Wafu-Italian eatery pastaRAMEN by James Beard-nominated Chef Robbie Felice. Combined, Iron Chef Morimoto and Chef Felice will occupy over 12,000 sf space on the 2nd floor of the InterContinental Hotel at Avenue overlooking the porte-cochere of the hotel and the water feature of the Plaza.

“Having been a resident of Bellevue for roughly 20 years, Avenue is very personal to me,” Lakha said. “This is my chance to build something that offers more world-class shopping, dining, and living opportunities in the same community where I raised my family.”

The development of Avenue Bellevue is a story of perseverance. Lakha’s chase for the American dream started at 17 when he immigrated to the United States from Pakistan. By 19, he was offered an opportunity to purchase an Irish bar – Biddy Mulligans – in the north side of Chicago, IL. Lakha evolved the bar into an iconic blues, jazz, and rock club, where he booked some of the most notorious and legendary musicians like The Smashing Pumpkins, Albert King, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy and more.

Andy Lakha, CEO of Fortress Development

Lakha’s quick summary of his time running Biddy Mulligans doesn’t tell the whole story of his struggles as an immigrant kid running a business in the 80s and early 90s. He said that the biggest challenge he faced was being accepted.

“Many people were shocked that an Indian kid was running an Irish blues bar in Chicago. When the staff found out, on the first day of his tenure, they all quit – unlike today, people were not as accepting back then,” Lakha said. “I needed to prove to everyone that I could be in this business. And a few years later, I established Biddy Mulligans as one of the top clubs to play in Chicago.”

Lakha eventually sold Biddy Mulligans and moved to the Pacific Northwest, where he started building gas stations, convenience stores and car washes around the Seattle area. His business acumen gained attention from large corporations like Chevron, McDonald’s, and Jack in the Box, leading to his 20+ year career in commercial real estate. Since the mid-90s, Lakha has bought, sold, or developed over 70 properties throughout the USA. He founded Fortress Development in 2015 – the start of his vision for Avenue Bellevue.

Image courtesy of Fortress Development

Lakha spent more than two years assembling a team of extraordinary talents, gathering experts from various fields – architects, landscapers, interior designers, and a feng shui grand master – to help bring Avenue Bellevue to life. Lakha noted that this development will bring a new architectural style to Downtown. From the outside, Avenue Bellevue’s serpentine, undulating balconies, artful structure, and high-quality materials were inspired by his time traveling, where he witnessed some of the most beautiful architectural buildings around the world.

“Most of the buildings in Downtown Bellevue are simple, efficient, and functional,” Lakha said. “With Avenue, I want to create something artistic and thought-provoking that inspires people to innovate.”

Lakha states his time at Biddy Mulligans, his move to Seattle, and the challenges he has faced throughout his life – including overcoming discrimination, the great recession, and the pandemic – is a reminder to take risks, even when the odds are stacked against you.

“My persistence comes from following one rule: In order to do anything great in life, you must always be at the edge where you could fall at any time,” Lakha said. “I dedicated everything to building Avenue from scratch. It’s been hard but looking out of my office window and seeing how far this project has come makes the tough time worth it.”

At its core, Avenue will ultimately be a place where people can gather. You can learn more about the future development on their website at:

This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.


Avenue Bellevue
10300 NE 8th St
Bellevue, WA 98004

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