The Bellevue Collection – _the brand that includes Bellevue Square, Lincoln Square and Bellevue Place – _is now a 5.5 million square-foot portfolio with retail, a dining district, entertainment, offices, three hotels and luxury residences. All locally owned and managed by the Kemper Development Company and the Freeman family. We asked VP of Marketing at Kemper Development, Jennifer Leavitt, to share how they will be celebrating their 75th year, and what we can look forward to.
How will The Bellevue Collection be celebrating their 75th year?
The history of Bellevue Square, Kemper Freeman and his family has been about building community. We really wanted the 75th to be a celebration of the community by telling the narrative of the company and the region’s journey over the last seven decades. This will be done in multiple ways including a celebratory experience with an interactive screen in Center Court highlighting fun moments in our history and a place in time for the Eastside. In addition, we will have a more traditional timeline with deeper content found with QR codes telling additional stories of the journey both visually and through video stories.
To kick the off the celebration of the opening month, we will have a gift with purchase just in time for the back-to-school season, with a matching donation going back to a community non-profit. Throughout the remainder of the year, we will offer opportunities for the community to celebrate with us during many of our iconic fall and winter events.
What do you think The Bellevue Collection is going to be like in another 75 years?
Although retail has evolved, the last year has shown us that the in-person retail experience endures. The social experience, especially found at a mixed-use project like The Bellevue Collection, meets needs that goes way beyond just transactional retail – visitors like to gather with friends and family to experience shopping, dining and entertainment together. I expect that The Bellevue Collection will continue to provide an evolving and personal experience that will continue to resonate with our changing guests.
2020 and 2021 have been challenging and eye opening. How have recent events impacted you and employees of The Bellevue Collection?
I am blessed to have worked for a local, family-owned company that even when facing our first long-term closure in our history, they supported and kept all of our employees on, many of which could not play a role remotely. By making that intentional decision, it has brought us all together as a team as we worked hard to find ways to make our employees, our tenants and our guests feel safe and comfortable.
You’ve spent your entire career with The Bellevue Collection. Tell us a little about that.
It was my internship out of college. It was a small office and Kemper Freeman himself often would come sit in my small cubicle and talk to me about his passion for our customer’s needs and the shopping center industry. When you have a small team, you end up wearing many hats which was the beginning of a very rewarding career for me. I have seen and participated in every expansion of our company since the completion of the major redevelopment of Bellevue Square and Bellevue Place in the 80s. Most importantly, I’ve had the honor to participate in our company’s robust philanthropy efforts through programming events and fundraisers, an opportunity and experience I will always cherish.