What I Love About Downtown Bellevue

Bellevue skyline & park fountain 8-2017I love its diversity . . .

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

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What I Love About Bellevue

Bellevue Downtown Park canal 8-2017I 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.

Lessons Learned from the Beach

Haystack Rock

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).

Bellevue Farmers Market

A sure sign of spring – this Thursday, May 18th, is opening day for the Bellevue Farmers Market. Back at its familiar location, vendors will be setting up in the parking lot of Bellevue Presbyterian Church (1717 Bellevue Way NE just north of downtown) with ample parking available. The market will be open every Thursday from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM, rain or shine, from May 18th through October 12th. (Pets are not permitted except service animals.)

 

 

WRE color logo jpg
Windermere Real Estate
A proud sponsor of the Bellevue Farmers Market since 2004.

 

 

 

Bellevue’s Light Rail Tunnel

Bellevue Light Rail Tunnel Video

Construction has been under way for months on the south portal site for the tunnel under downtown Bellevue. Part of the Sound Transit East Link extension, the tunnel will host light rail service in Bellevue and run between the future transit stations at East Main and Downtown Bellevue. What you might not know . . .

  • The tunnel will be approximately one third of a mile long when completed and will run between the East Main and Downtown stations, mostly under 110th Avenue NE
  • Excavation work should be complete in about two years followed by another year of construction to complete the tunnel interior
  • Crews are excavating at the south portal site at 112th Avenue SE and Main Street. Construction is on pace to dig 3 to 4 feet of tunnel a day. The north portal will surface at the light rail station at NE 6th Street near the current Bellevue Transit Center
  • The completed tunnel will be nearly 28 feet tall and run 30-60 feet below ground
  • The budget for the tunnel is $121.4 million
  • Instead of a tunnel boring machine, this tunnel is being built using the sequential excavation method (SEM). SEM uses an excavator and cutting equipment to take out soil. As soil is removed, lattice girders are installed and then pressurized concrete, called shotcrete, is sprayed onto the tunnel sides, ceiling and floor. This method, vs a tunnel boring machine, should minimize disruption to surface streets, homes and businesses.

East Link is scheduled to open in 2023 and is part of the 14 mile, 10 station light rail extension. When open a trip from downtown Seattle to downtown Bellevue will take about 20 minuted. The next extension is scheduled to open the following year linking stations to Redmond.

2023 will be here sooner than we expect. Access to light rail is going to be a game changer downtown, adding appeal, convenience, prestige and value to downtown Bellevue’s business and residential communities.

Ice Cream Season

ice cream

flickr/gordonramsaysubmissions

The last couple of warm-ish days got me thinking about ice cream. The big news, and I will make a trip to Capital Hill, is Portland’s Salt & Straw ice cream shop opening in the Capital Hill. Downtown Bellevue is missing a signature ice cream shop.

A long time downtown Bellevue resident, I remember the Baskin & Robbins ice cream shop downtown. Along with the Dairy Queen (both have been gone for years) these were the two “go to” stops for ice cream in the summer. Ben & Jerry’s is inside Bellevue Square and there are several places you can find gelatto,  frozen yogurt or a milkshake, no destination ice cream shop in downtown Bellevue anymore.

The weather was great and we spent a lot of time outdoors this weekend walking the dogs and enjoying the colorful blooms downtown. It was fun to sit outside with a cup of coffee but it would have been fabulous to sit outside with a yummy cone of ice cream. I’m looking forward to summer and hopefully the arrival of a pop-up ice cream shop.

Bellevue Downtown Park Expansion

Downtown Park Intersection Closure

photo courtesy City of Bellevue

The “Complete the Circle” project at the Downtown Park is underway with work scheduled to be completed in time for this year’s Fourth of July celebration. The expansion includes completion of the last section of the circular canal and tree lined promenade, creating a new entry and water feature at the south end of the park, upgrading the playground to create a universally accessible Inspiration Playground, adding landscaping and terraced seating and enlarging the parking lot on 100th Avenue NE.

Construction of the park’s new south entry and pedestrian crossing caused the closure of the intersection at NE First Street and 102nd Avenue NE this week. The intersection is expected to open again mid-to-late April.

The Downtown Park is a 21 acre oasis in the heart of the city and the centerpiece of the Bellevue Parks System. There’s something for everyone . . . a half mile level tree-lined promenade, canal, waterfall and reflecting pond, a ten acre lawn area, playground, picnic areas and formal gardens . . . all framed by views of Bellevue’s skyline and Mt. Rainier. It will be exciting to see the improvements and have the park open again this summer.