Redevelopment project coming to Old Bellevue

This rendering shows what The Gateway, a mixed-use project, is proposed to look like where it will be built on the corner of Main Street and Bellevue Way. - Courtesy of the Vander Hoek Corporation
This rendering shows what The Gateway, a mixed-use project, is proposed to look like where it will be built on the corner of Main Street and Bellevue Way.
— image credit: Courtesy of the Vander Hoek Corporation

Several business owners in Old Bellevue have been granted an extension to vacate a block of properties slated to be demolished for a redevelopment project.

The Gateway is proposed by the Vander Hoek Corporation to be a mixed-use project on the northwest corner of Bellevue Way and Main Street that will include 370 residential apartments and 22,000 net rentable square feet of retail space and another 5,000 net rentable square feet of restaurant space. The project also will provide parking for about 600 vehicles.

Businesses contained within the block of Main Street, Bellevue Way, Northeast First Street and 103rd Avenue Northeast initially learned they would have until Feb. 28 to vacate the properties, but received certified letters Wednesday, Feb. 19, extending their eviction to April 30.

"I'm going to be out of there by next Friday at this point, but it has not been an easy task to do," said David Paup, operator of Cookies in Bloom. "I'm moving into a temporary spot over on 130th (Avenue Northeast) until I can find something I can afford."

Paup is more optimistic than some being asked to uproot their businesses in Old Bellevue. He said his cookie basket business – part of a franchise – does best online, so he'll scale back in looking for a physical location.

"It's kind of like, you've got to get out, you've got to find another place," he said. "Bellevue's a really hard place to find an affordable place."

Bobbi Pochman for the city of Bellevue's Development Services Department said it has received plans for the garage portion of The Gateway project and it is in preliminary review.

"We are just not very close to approving anything," she said.

James Russell, owner of Ming's Asian Gallery, said there's no hard feelings for Stu Vander Hoek and his company. His lease states he would leave if redevelopment ever occurred.

"We just didn't expect it to be so quick and in such short time," said Russell.

He said he had another store in Seattle that also was forced out by redevelopment several years ago. He said he is running into the same difficulty now, which is finding affordable rental space as redevelopment in Bellevue keeps rates high.

Vander Hoek said tenants of his properties on that block of Old Bellevue knew when they signed their leases they would eventually have to make way for redevelopment, and many were happy for the added time to vacate.

"They've all known, certainly on a more recent basis, that they were supposed to be out by February, but all of them except one got an extension to April," he said.

The owner of the 7-11 was asked if he'd like to be included in The Gateway, Vander Hoek said, but declined the offer.

Construction is expected to take 22 months and will likely start in late spring or early summer, said Vander Hoek, adding preleasing won't occur until at least a year from now. He hopes to find an anchor restaurant and fill other retail space with the types of businesses common in Old Bellevue.

"The idea would be like just like a shopping mall a tenant mix that works with what's already here," he said.

Michele Dillon, who owns Timeless Elegance with her husband, Michael, said she's more concerned about the building where her business resides being demolished than her having to leave it.

Built in 1948, the property has been a residence, a restaurant and an art gallery before Timeless Elegance opened there in 1989.

"People are very upset that this is going to be torn down," Dillon said, adding people have come in to share their memories. "One guy had me take a picture of where he proposed to his wife."

She said she has inquired with the Eastside Heritage Center about the history of the place and what could be done to relocate the building like what was done with the Winters House. Vander Hoek, who also serves on the EHC board, said that won't happen.

"It's certainly not something that's foreign to me that people would think there's some sort of significance to that house. I think clearly the direction for downtown Bellevue is not to save houses," Vander Hoek said. "The building has been compromised through remodels over the years by tenants and add ons. I'm not surprised that someone would look at it and say, 'Hmm, is there any way to keep it or move it?' "

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