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Don't Mess This Up, Bellevue

Don't Mess This Up, Bellevue
The most blunt, good-natured advice was levied upon the Bellevue city council recently. "Don't screw it up," according to one panelist at last week's Bisnow Future of Downtown Bellevue at the Glendale Country Club. Fortunately, our three all-star panelists specializing in construction and development happily gave their ideas on how to avoid a blunder.
Mulvanny G2 Architecture President Ming Zhang at the Glendale Country Club.
MulvannyG2 Architecture president Ming Zhang says light rail will change the face of Bellevue as we know it, attracting families to the downtown core, where they'll mingle with Fortune 500 companies. (Kids love mingling with corporate boards of directors, as they make for great games of red rover.) "We will see more connections, more interrelations with the different zones," Ming says. "I see much more high density development and more open spaces." Whatever happens, Ming stressed that Bellevue should maintain its "city in the park" feel.

Mulvanny G2 Architecture President Ming Zhang and principal Scott Douglas at the Glendale Country Club.
Even diehards like MulvannyG2 principal Scott Douglas (right), a 30-year Seattle resident, are considering making the leap across Lake Washington. How might Bellevue better itself? Bringing down the parking ratio might be a good thing (can't live where you can't fit), Scott suggested. Also, the building code restricts floorplates above 80 feet to less than 25k SF, while tenants are looking for 30k SF floorplates or bigger. Memo to the city: Unless you want a lot of short, stubby buildings sprouting downtown, that's one restriction that might best be changed.
DCI Engineers President Roger Heeringa at the Glendale Country Club.
DCI Engineers president Roger Heeringa sees light rail (coming to a station near you in a few years) as nothing short of revolutionary for the city's workforce. Instead of living in Bellevue and commuting to Seattle, Roger thinks we might begin seeing the opposite. "I think people in Seattle would be willing to work in Bellevue knowing they would have a 25-minute commute," he said. "It would change the way we operate." DCI's operations in Bellevue run deep—the company has done about 700 projects in the city over the past 15 years. During the last cycle, 12 of the 16 cranes swinging around downtown belonged to DCI, Roger said.
Bellevue city manager Steve Sarkozy and Aaron Laing at the Glendale Country Club.
Bellevue city manager Steve Sarkozy, snapped here with Aaron Laing of Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt during the pre-panel schmooze, has a lot to smile about. Bellevue looks like the healthiest market in the region and continues to draw top minds and creative talents, not to mention investors. "Even within the central Puget Sound region, it's attractive for people who are relocating," Steve tells us. "We've gone beyond the critical mass."
Steve Schwartz and Eric Leland at the Glendale Country Club.
Jones Lang LaSalle's Steve Schwartz and Mohr Partners's Eric Leland shared the optimism that permeated the room. "I think there are going to be a lot of projects announced in the next 12 months," Eric tells us. Bellevue, he says, is spaced out: "Everyone knows there's no space." Not that that's stopped prospective tenants from going out and seeing what's available, Steve adds. (After all, a little shopping never hurt anyone.)