BellevueBellevue, Washington. Photo: Tiffany Von Arnim/Flickr

The City of Bellevue has kicked off the process for a new pedestrian and bike corridor through Bellevue’s downtown. Officials envision a must-see urban experience like the High Line in New York City or the Riverwalk in San Antonio. The corridor would go from the waterfront park at Meydenbauer Bay through downtown and span Interstate 405 to connect downtown with the commercial area in Wilburton. With homes in Northwest Bellevue forecasted to increase in value 9.2 percent in 2016, a corridor is a timely (and profitable) project.

Teams that want to do conceptual design and related work must submit their response to the RFQ by this coming Wednesday. The budget for this initial phase is $250,000. The chosen designer will create a design utilizing Bellevue’s public spaces and add signature elements such as vendors, art, water features, performances and outdoor cafes.

Bellevue 2San Antonio Riverwalk. Photo: Nan Palmero/Flickr

In 2023 light rail stations will open downtown and in Bel-Red’s Spring District, a much needed development for the city’s growing pedestrian traffic. You may recall the awful car accident in Bellevue last September where a toddler in a stroller was hit and killed as her mom crossed the street.

“Our city was built as a very car-centric city,” Bellevue Deputy Mayor John Chelminiak told the DJC. “In an urban area you have to have a way for people to walk around.” The I-405 span should be “fairly spectacular,” he said, likely an aerial bridge or perhaps a cap. “I certainly want to see something more spectacular than a concrete walk with a rail.”

The conceptual route is about a mile long and would connect important places in the city: Lake Washington, Old Bellevue, Downtown Park, Bellevue Way’s retail, the Transit Center, Meydenbauer Convention Center and the Eastside Rail Corridor.

One of the landscape architects responding to the RFQ for Bellevue’s Grand Connection, Andrew Kohr of Stantec Atlanta, told the DJC that these kinds of projects create a new type of urban experience that connect people to nature and give them a sense of place. Corridors like this encourage people to stay, spend money and come back again. They also lead to other investments. “Whether it’s a ball field or a greenway, great civic spaces spur redevelopment and spur interest in the community,” he said.

High Line New York CityThe High Line in New York City. Photo: David Jones/Flickr

Projects like the High Line should inspire Bellevue, Kohr told the DJC, but the city needs something unique that celebrates its community. “If we built 10 High Lines, the High Line isn’t as amazing,” Kohr said.

What do you envision for Bellevue’s new Grand Connection? Tell us in the comments!

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