Downtown Bellevue has become a city for families. A decade ago it was a rare sight to see children lined up at school bus stops downtown. Now you can see dozens of children waiting for school buses on several corners throughout the central business district. The increased “stroller count” confirms that couples who may have moved downtown several years ago are choosing to remain downtown and raise their families in the city.
While many new residents, singles and young families, are embracing urban living, working “seniors” are also moving downtown, transitioning from suburban homes where they raised their families to the city, drawn to the convenience and energy of an urban lifestyle vs. moving to age designated, sometimes isolated, suburban communities. The walk-ability to shopping, dining, arts and entertainment venues and medical services is appealing to any age. Nearly 40% of Bellevue’s population is made up of young-at-heart 45-70 year olds who are still working or are active retirees.
Bellevue is also a city of many nations. With over 39% of Bellevue’s population having been born in a foreign country, the city has expanded its cultural diversity. A stroll through Bellevue Square or along the canal at the Downtown Park will reveal a wide variety of languages being spoken by many generations of families who now call Bellevue home.
The city has experienced phenominal business and population growth over the last 10-15 years, and with that growth comes change. Not everyone may embrace change, but the city will never look like it did two decades ago. We are fortunate to live in an active, diverse, thriving city with a vibrant business district, some of the best shopping and dining north of San Francisco, excellent schools and access to world class health care. Its a great place to call home.
Robin Myers / Condo Market Specialist / Windermere Real Estate
I moved to Bellevue 30 years ago and have lived downtown for the past ten years. I love living here and one of the things I love most are the beautiful and diverse parks throughout the city. I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance of ten parks which I visit frequently with my two pups. Did you know . . .
Bellevue has 2,700 acres of parks and open space with 80+ miles of multi-use trails
45 parks have playgrounds
6 waterfront parks have seasonal lifeguards
17 parks have reservable picnic areas
16 have tennis courts and six have pickleball courts (3 indoor and 3 outdoor)
Bellevue has an aquatic center, a tennis center and two golf courses (Bellevue Golf Course and the Crossroads Par 3 golf course)
Kelsey Creek Farm is home to ponies, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs and more
There are nearly 100 city maintained parks. The Dowtown Park, the city’s crown jewel, recently reopened after a one year closure for a major upgrade. The park is a 21 acre oasis in the heart of downtown Bellevue offering views of Mt. Rainier and the downtown skyline. A 1/2 mile groomed promenade circles a canal which is bordered by trees and dozens of benches and a 240’waterfall. The expanded Inspiration Playground provides innovative play space for children of all ages and abilities plus a fun water play space which was very popular this summer.
Nearly every community throughout the city has walk-able access to at least one park and many of the downtown office buildings have intimate public courtyards that offer a quiet respite in the city. I appreciate the time, care and maintenance city employees put into keeping our parks groomed, clean and planted with seasonal landscaping. Parks are a huge asset and contribute to the livability of a city and our local parks are a big part of what makes Bellevue s special place to live.
I love technology – it has made the real estate business easier in so many ways. With smart phones and tablets its easy to stay connected with other brokers, clients, appraisers, lenders, etc. Its been a crazy market over the last 24+ months and often its necessary to respond immediately to offers and counteroffers (as well as the occasional clients who expect 24/7 connectivity).
I’ve just returned from a week in Cannon Beach – its definitely my happy place. Technology makes it easy to stay connected, even when you travel, but I held to my commitment to only check email and voice mail twice a day. I enjoyed a fabulous week that was work and stress free.
I love living downtown, and its always good to be back home, but after a few days back some of my observations were troubling. At the beach you see a cell phone in nearly everyone’s back pocket, but that’s where the phones stayed. Adults were walking and talking to one another or talking to their children. Everyone says hello when they pass on the sidewalk and stop to pet any dog within reach. In restaurants parents didn’t hand their phones to their children to be entertained – they were included in the conversation. Out on the beach dogs are running, kids are fling kites, parents are building sand castles and exploring the tide pools with their kids and making s’mores around beach fires at night. Everyone unplugs at the beach. You walk everywhere in Cannon Beach and I felt very safe, almost carefree, as a pedestrian. There are no traffic lights, just stop signs. Drivers yield to pedestrians and not once did I worry about being hit by a driver talking or texting. (I did notice the fine for cell phone use while driving in Oregon is a lot heftier than in Washington which could explain a lot.)
Its always an adjustment back into everyday life after vacation, but I really enjoyed the break from technology, even if for just a week. At the beach no one was staring at their phone on the sidewalk (or shouting at the phone like walkie talkies), no one bumped into me (or a sign post) because they were texting while walking, and I never had to dodge a distracted driver in the intersection. Technology is amazing but with our increased dependence on it we have become less aware of our surroundings and more focused on the tiny screens we carry in our pockets. My post-vacation commitment is to work on integrating some of the relaxed beach lifestyle into my day-to-day work routine. It may make the transition back to work more palatable while I trade feeling the sand between my toes for feeling the sidewalk beneath my feet (at least until I can return to the beach).
Yet another new restaurant, Henry’s Tavern, is scheduled to open August 30th at Lincoln Square. Henry’s Tavern is best known for its wide selection of beers on tap, its frosted bar rail to keep beers cold and a vast menu. This will be the sixth Henry’s Tavern for Restaurants Unlimited, Inc.
Henry’s opened in Portland in 2004 and expanded to Seattle in 2013 with a Sodo location. This is the second Bellevue location for Restaurants Unlimited, Inc. – the other is Palomino. The restaurant will be 11,000+ square feet with a 700 square foot patio and a keg wall – a two tiered glass cooler that has all kegs on display.
The Memorial Day holiday weekend marks the beginning of summer and outdoor activities. After the brutal winter and spring weather, any opportunity for outdoor activity will be welcome. While many people have holiday plans to visit ocean or mountain destinations, don’t forget there’s a lot to do in town. If you’re looking for some local activities here’s a partial list of what’s available in Bellevue.
With nearly 100 parks and recreation facilities, Bellevue offers plenty of green space. The city maintains 96 miles of trails and six beachfront parks.
Bellevue Aquatic Center has a lap pool, warm water pool and party room
Robinswood Tennis center offers programs and lessons for all ages
Crossroads water spray playground is a favorite destination for the younger set
Explore the lake – the SE 40th Street boat launch provides boat access to Lake Washington
Tune up your golf game – the Crossroads 9 hole/par 3 chip and putt course is great for beginners and the Bellevue Golf Course offers a more challenging 18 hole/par 7 course plus a 46 stall driving range
Visit the Mercer Slough – take a guided nature walk or canoe tour
Bellevue Botanical Gardens has 17 acres of display gardens, natural wetlands and woodland trails
Bellevue Arts Museum – visiting and permanent exhibits cover a wide range of arts and crafts and design elements
Shop til you drop at Bellevue Square, Lincoln Square, Old Main Street or The Bravern. You’ll find world class shopping, dozens and dozens of fine and casual dining options offering indoor and patio opportunities for lunch, dinner sweets, snacks and libations, cinemas, comedy and bowling.
There’s no need to leave town to find something fun and interesting to do during the next 3 days – just make it a safe holiday weekend.
Saturday, June 3rd is the fifth annual Lake to Lake Bike Ride. Two routes are available – both start and finish at the Lake Hills Community Park. The mostly flat 9 mile Greenbelt Loop takes riders through Bellevue’s award winning park system. A more challenging ride, the Lake Loop, follows a 22 mile route. Both routes are approximately 80% on-road and 20% off-road gravel surfaces.
Event pre-registration ($15) is available or $20 the day of the event. Participants receive a custom t-shirt. Registration opens at 8:00 AM and first riders depart at 9:00 AM. To register visit http://parksreg.bellevuewa.gov/ (activity code #117822) or call call 425-452-6885. For more information, or to volunteer for the event, visit the event website at http://bellevuewa.gov/lake-to-lake-bike-ride.htm, call 425-452-4882 or email email@example.com. The event benefits Bellevue Youth Camp Scholarship Fund.
Rain or shine . . . this is a great opportunity to for kids of any age to enjoy a non-competitive recreational ride to explore the city’s award winning park system and lake views. Te event is recommended for ages 9 and up. Riders under age 9 must be in a tag-a-long or trailer.