Downtown Bellevue has exploded over the past quarter century, ask anyone who has grown up in this area. The population has increased tenfold to 13,900 while the number of jobs have doubled to 51,000.
The Downtown Livability Initiative, a four year effort to update the land-use code, is in full swing. It's goal is to create a suburban-urban downtown of the future, as explained by Mac Cummins, director of planning and community development for the city. This includes a light-rail service to Seattle and Redmond which begins 2023, installing new mid block street crossings for a more walkable city, and creating more pocket parks and plazas.
We are also seeing an increase in tech companies officially calling Seattle home. Expedia is moving it's headquarters to Seattle, Amazon has leased a new building, and Microsoft (Seattle's largest office tenant) is renewing their leases, while other tech companies are expanding.
"Building heights across most of downtown will increase with the more notable changes occurring in the core of downtown and around future light-rail stations." At the moment, the current skyscraper limit is resting at 450-foot. However that will increase to 600 feet tall.
The Grand Connection is still in the works, which is a plan to build a 1.5 mile corridor from Meydenbauer Bay Park to the future Eastside Rail Corridor. "It will be built using existing open spaces, such as Downtown Park and the Sixth Avenue pedestrian corridor, and adding plazas and pocket parks with art and cultural events. Even the link over the freeway could be park-like, according to draft plans."
It has been recognized that the city will need to balance development without overwhelming downtown communities and neighborhoods. "While developers will be allowed to build taller buildings, permission will hinge on building narrower high-rises with publicly accessible open space at the base. This is driven by a desire to maintain natural light on the streets and have a skyline that makes people think 'Bellevue' when they see it."
Read the full article by Marc Stiles at Puget Sound Business Journal.