Leasing Expert Discusses the Future of Retail in Downtown Bellevue A conversation with Kidder Mathew's Monica Wallace
With more than 20 years of experience, Monica Wallace, senior vice president at Kidder Mathews, understands the nuances of retail leasing. She joined the firm in 2021 and specializes in leasing grocery-anchored shopping centers and new construction mixed-use retail projects in the Puget Sound region. Wallace has been the broker of record for over 30 projects in Downtown Bellevue, including The Meyden on Main Street Bellevue Way and Bellevue North Shopping Center.
Her role at Kidder Mathews consists of guiding her clients through the initial design, construction, and lease-up of the retail portion of the property.
Her unsurmountable knowledge and expertise in the retail field make Wallace a great fit as moderator for our upcoming Downtown Talks Breakfast Serieshappening Tuesday, September 27 at Bellevue Club. She'll be onstage alongside a panel of retail experts who'll discuss new customer behaviors and demands, commercial leasing trends, and what it takes to attract retail activity in the current market. Registration includes a plated breakfast and an opportunity to network with community leaders – tickets are on sale now!
With one week left until our event, we sat down with Wallace to discuss the beginning of her career, how leasing has changed during the pandemic and what you can expect to hear at our upcoming Downtown Talks.
How did you get started in your career?
While I was a student at the University of Washington, I started working part-time at Wallace Properties, a commercial real estate development, property management, and brokerage firm here in Bellevue. I had planned to go to law school after my undergraduate degree but was so drawn to the brokerage side of commercial real estate that I asked Bob and Joan Wallace if I could start full-time in brokerage. They agreed to bring me on board as a broker, and I have been doing it since! I think I'm in my 23rd year and can't imagine doing anything else. I love it.
What sets Downtown Bellevue apart from other markets?
Bellevue is such an exciting place to be right now. Downtown Bellevue is becoming a powerhouse of commerce with larger companies entering the market. With the addition of the light rail, I look forward to seeing what the landscape of downtown will look like in the next decade. Downtown Bellevue is not only burgeoning central business district, but it is also home to dynamic industry-leading retail centers with the Bellevue Collection and The Shops at Bravern, in addition to the charming district of Old Main and other retail pockets throughout the Downtown. Downtown Bellevue is home to such a diverse population of residents, employees, and visitors that it has a modern metropolitan feel.
How has retail leasing changed the most since the pandemic?
Retail leasing in non-mall properties has continued to thrive. We have seen a bit of a setback in the areas that rely on daytime population and also in the new construction projects that need to navigate the high construction costs, but we are also starting to see activity in these instances. We hear from prospective retailers and restaurants that it is tough to get employees to commute into Bellevue and other suburbs where the cost of living is high. Downtown Bellevue has excellent transit access, which is helpful compared to some suburban markets that don't have transit access.
Why should people attend the upcoming Downtown Talks? What will they learn?
This is a rare occasion to get three of the major developers shaping Downtown Bellevue retail and a member of the City of Bellevue Economic Development team all on the same stage. With all the changes in the market, it is an excellent opportunity to hear straight from the influencers on what is driving the success of Downtown Bellevue retail, what factors they see as challenges, and where they see Downtown Bellevue retail in the future.