Bellevue officials have negotiated a deal to reduce the size of a proposed Sound Transit light-rail maintenance yard and allowing 1.6 million square feet of potential commercial and residential development space on the perimeter of the property. At the same time, Bellevue will save taxpayers money, shaving $60 million off the costs to build a downtown tunnel. This follows an impasse, that began last summer when Sound Transit announced facilities to be built near Bellevue’s planned $2.3 billion Spring Development. City plans are for the Bel-Red corridor and Spring District to become a high-density neighborhood with a mix of office, retail and residential space near the 120th Avenue Northeast light-rail station.
Hilary Franz, executive director of Futurewise, said to maximize the region’s investment in light rail, it’s important to locate homes, work and schools near transit.
The new agreement must be approved by the Bellevue City Council, after a public hearing two weeks ago and a likely vote on the deal April 20. The Sound Transit Board will consider the agreement April 23.
Both sides achieved success, Sound Transit gained a finalized plan that allows it to begin building the Eastside light-rail line next year, targeting 2023 as a completion date.
The Seattle Times reports that Sound Transit will add bike and pedestrian access along the corridor,including a connection between the Eastside Rail Corridor in Bellevue with the Cross Kirkland Corridor. Additionally, the agency will improve or add some Bellevue parks including restoration of a wetland in Mercer Slough.
Bellevue’s $100 million contribution to the downtown tunnel includes the value of donated property, right-of-way access and the relocation of utilities.
In a related development, Sound Transit has also agreed to hand over a parking lot near the 130th Avenue Station to Bellevue after construction. Bellevue plans call for building mixed-rate housing on the site.