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An Interview With Andy Lakha, CEO At Fortress Development

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Below is our recent interview with Andy Lakha, CEO at Fortress Development:

Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to yourself and Fortress Development?

A: I’ve been a commercial real estate developer for more than two decades, and I got my start building convenience stores, gas stations and car washes. I’ve owned, operated or developed more than 80 different properties across the United States, including many for national companies like McDonald’s, Chevron and Walgreens, etc. As time went on, I wanted to pursue bigger and more complex projects, so I began developing office buildings, mixed-use projects, large-scale commercial plazas and shopping centers. I founded Fortress Development four years ago specifically to develop Avenue Bellevue – which is the biggest and most important project of my life.

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Q: Can you tell us about the Avenue Bellevue project and your inspiration for it?

A: Avenue Bellevue is a luxury condo, retail and hotel development planned for the heart of downtown Bellevue, Washington.

I have a very specific vision for this property. I want to create a space with the warmth and vitality of a European town square, but with a modern take on the architecture and landscaping.

The property will include two towers of luxury condos. The south tower will house a collection of Estate Homes, as well as the Pacific Northwest’s first-ever InterContinental Hotel, the world’s largest luxury hotel brand. The “avenue” that connects the two towers onsite will be a gathering space for Bellevue residents and travelers alike, with 100,000 square feet of unique, high-end retail, food and nightlife for all to enjoy.

Q: You recently announced the addition of 3-Michelin Star chef Joshua Skenes and Saison Hospitality’s Angler to the development – what else can we expect in terms of onsite amenities?

A: We are thrilled to have Chef Joshua Skenes’ Angler restaurant in our development – it will bring a new level of fine dining to the Bellevue area. I want to bring that same level of quality and sophistication to every aspect of the property.

Residents in Avenue’s Estate Homes will not only have access to the fine dining and shopping available onsite, but also to InterContinental Hotel amenities, including room service, housekeeping service, spa and fitness center access, concierge assistance and valet parking. Two Rolls Royce house cars will also be available, as well as private lounges and a private dog run.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your business and how did you overcome it?

A: Gathering the team for Avenue Bellevue was probably the biggest challenge. It took me more than two years to assemble the team that I have now. Since this is the biggest and most complex project of my life, I wanted to take my time and get it exactly right. We are looking to elevate the standard of living, dining, shopping, art, architecture and entertainment in the city of Bellevue, and I needed a team that understood my vision and passion for this project.

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Q: What’s next for Fortress Development?

A: Right now, all of my time and energy is focused on Avenue Bellevue, but this won’t be the last you hear of Fortress Development. I have more aspirations for the future after this project is complete.

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