BELLEVUE — Downtown Bellevue is about to undergo a major expansion. New skyscrapers will change the city’s skyline and planners are telling residents to get used to it.
“We are seeing a resurgence of development in the city in all categories, in residential, in retail, and in office development,” said Michael Brennan, director of the city’s Development Services Department.
Right now, there are 11 major projects in the planning phase, five in the pipeline, and four already under construction, such as a 21-story apartment complex on 106th Avenue Northeast.
And a $1.2 billion expansion of Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square is around the corner.
“It’s the biggest single thing our company has done in 68 years,” said real estate developer Kemper Freeman.
Freeman has been waiting for the right time to expand. He said after nearly five years of record growth, this is it.
“It`s basically a 50 percent expansion,” he said.
The plan will double the size of the mall, adding two hotels, two large office towers and hundreds of apartments. It will open in the fall of 2016.
The pace of progress is something that surprises even Freeman, who was just a kid when his father and grandfather began developing downtown Bellevue in 1945.
They broke ground on Bell Square in 1960.
“I watched the bulldozer go back and forth. I was more excited about the bulldozer than whatever they were doing with it.”
Now Bellevue is the state`s fifth largest city, and the population in downtown alone is expected to nearly double by 2030.
“I`m very excited, and hope in the next few years, I’m able to buy a house and take advantage of the expansion and still be close down here,” said Lauren Dalton, who works in Bellevue.
Construction on the Bell Square expansion will begin early next year.
Freeman’s development group says during the project, crews will wrap up street-level work by mid-morning to allow people to move freely through downtown.