Trader Joe’s, REI and HomeGoods Coming to Downtown Bellevue

Trader Joes REI HomeGoods

At last . . . after years of rumors Trader Joe’s is coming to downtown Bellevue. An article in the Bellevue Reporter this week disclosed plans for a new Bellevue Central Shopping Center to be located at the SE corner of 116th Avenue NE and NE 4th Street. This is the former site of a proposed Target store  – Target pulled out of that commitment last year.

Designs for construction of a 74,360 SF shopping center have been approved by the City of Bellevue. The two story structure will house Trader Joe’s, a 40,000 SF REI and a 22,000 SF HomeGoods store. The shopping center will have access from both 116th and NE 4th with two levels of parking for a total of 309 spaces.  A pedestrian plaza is planned for the southwest corner of the property.

The extension of NE 4th Street from 116th to 120th (running between Home Depot and Best Buy) was started last year; it is expected to be completed this fall.

Condo or Townhouse Lifestyle Appealing to First Time Homeowners

5969497443_36934d7080_mThe perfect home isn’t always a house. While you might be ready for the responsibility of home ownership, a house comes with more work and expense to maintain not only the interior but also the yard, gardens, fence, exterior, roof, etc. Townhomes and condos are a great alternative for first time homeowners who are drawn to the ease of a condo lifestyle. There is minimal or no responsibility for exterior maintenance and while there’s sure to be a monthly association fee, that fee covers the expense of maintaining the landscaping, building exterior, roof, outside window washing, irrigation system, etc. Condos and townhomes also tend to be more affordable than single family homes, and with a wide range of floor plans, are a great option for first time buyers to get into the market and experience home ownership without being overwhelmed with a large mortgage or maintenance responsibilities. The owner amenities offered in many condos can be appealing as well. With access to fitness facilities, business centers, concierge service, guest suites and more, think of the potential savings if you can eliminate a gym membership or hotel expense for out of town guests.

While it comes down to lifestyle, the decision can be relatively simple. If you don’t enjoy yard work and don’t want to spend time mowing, weeding, edging, panting or cleaning the roof, a townhouse or condo could be the perfect choice. This lifestyle isn’t limited to first time buyers  –  the baby boomer generation downsizing into smaller digs find this is the perfect opportunity to abandon time consuming maintenance responsibilities and live a more carefree lifestyle with more time for entertaining, travel and spending time with friends and family. Whether you’re buying your first home or moving from a larger house, instead of buying a lawn mower buy a Metro pass and explore the city.

Bellevue Summer Events

Lake to Lake Bike RideWhile the official first day of summer is still a few weeks away, the Memorial Day holiday weekend signals the unofficial start to summer. One of the first big events of summer is the Bellevue Parks & Community Services LAKE TO LAKE BIKE RIDE on Saturday, June 13th. The ride offers two routes, the Greenbelt Loop, a mostly flat 9 mile route, and the Lake Loop, a more challenging 22 mile route.  Both routes are on-road and off-road (gravel). A bike mechanic from Gregg’s Cycle will be on site to assist with safety checks and minor repairs. All riders must wear helmets. Riders under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

The pre-registration fee is $15; $20 the day of the event. (Register online at using Code #95182.)  Registration fees benefit the city’s youth camp scholarship fund. Custom socks given to the first 150 to register. Participants will receive a custom designed T-shirt and there’s a post event raffle with prizes and items from local sponsors. For more information call 425/452-4882 or email

Can I Afford to Live in Downtown Bellevue?

Bellevue skyline from  Lake WA #1The Puget Sound Business Journal recently reported on the University of Washington’s win of a design challenge for low income housing. Congratulations to UW graduate students from the college’s Runstad Center of Real Estate who won the 24th annual Bank of America Merrill Lynch Low Income Housing Challenge in San Francisco. The team swept all judging criteria including design, financial feasibility and community engagement.

The lack of affordable rental housing is a growing concern in many urban areas and downtown Bellevue are no exception.  Many renters, in an effort to escape rising rents and control their housing expenses, are buying a home, and condos often meet both lifestyle and affordability criteria. But with prices for new construction condos easily exceeding $500 per square foot, is it possible to find an affordable condo in downtown Bellevue? With $500,000 as a maximum price, here’s the data on recent condo sales in downtown Bellevue (98004 zip code).

  • 16 one bedroom condos sold in the last six months
  • prices ranged from $212,000 to $500,000
  • floor plans ranged from 563 SF to 1,086 SF
  • average price per square foot $421.00
  • In that same six month period 27 two bedroom condos sold
  • prices ranged from $260,000 to $475,000
  • floor plans ranged from 855 SF to 1,431 SF
  • average price per square foot $325.00

While the new construction condos come with sleek finishes and sexy amenities, they come with a big price tag too.  But there’s good news . . . there are nearly 40 condo communities in downtown Bellevue with one and two bedroom floor plans priced under $500,000. The majority are within easy walking distance of downtown’s workplaces, shopping, dining and nightlife.  I know where these communities are. Contact me for more information about downtown Bellevue’s affordable condos.

Mortgage Rates on the Rise

house on moneyHistorically low interest rates have been with us for the past several years but may soon be coming to an end. Mortgage rates are up for the third straight week. According to Freddie Mac the average rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage rose to 3.85% this week, up from 3.80% just a week earlier. This is the highest mortgage interest rates have been since last March.

Lenders have been warning of rising interest rates since last year but economic conditions have kept rates in the low to mid 3% range for longer than anticipated.  As the economy and employment numbers improve, interest rates will begin to tick upward. If you’ve been thinking about refinancing your current mortgage or you’re still on the fence about buying a home, time may not be on your side. While there shouldn’t be concern about a 4% or 5% mortgage interest rate (I remember the days when interest rates were in the teens – yikes!) but every time interest rates increase affordability declines. If you’re in the market to buy a home in the next 2-3 months, talk with your lender about locking your rate. If you’re thinking about refinancing your home don’t put it off any longer. Get your paperwork together and submit it to your lender. Procrastinating could cost you money.

Bellevue Farmers Market

Farmers Market logoIts that time of year again – this Thursday kicks off the 12th season of the Bellevue Farmers Market Thursday market.  Once again the market is located at the Bellevue Presbyterian Church (1717 Bellevue Way NE). Events for this week’s kick off include:

  • live music
  • face painting for kids
  • hourly drawings
  • official opening day ceremony at 4:30

The Saturday market is scheduled to kick-off on June 6th and will again be located at Compass Plaza downtown (next to Barnes and Noble).

Downtown Bellevue’s Urban Parks

McCormick ParkMcCORMICK PARK is one of downtown Bellevue’s prettiest urban parks. The park covers ten blocks (102nd to 112th) along NE 12th Street. A level, beautifully landscaped walking path is lined with majestic mature rhodies and azaleas.