In largest-attended Bellevue Downtown Association Annual Celebration, hundreds in the Bellevue community came together to commemorate their 44th celebration Thursday night.
Held at Meydenbauer Center, BDA President Patrick Bannon presented two Place Making Awards before keynote speaker Rebecca Ryan took the stage to talk about the future of the economy.
Defined as “really cool stuff that helps you fall in love with the place,” the Place Making Awards were given to honorees who have helped to define Downtown Bellevue, Bannon said.
“Place Making helps tell our story,” Bannon said. “It’s a marker and a maker of pride and tonight we recognize achievements in Downtown Bellevue.”
First to accept the award was Kemper Freeman with Kemper Development Company for the largest private construction project in Downtown’s history – the Lincoln Square expansion.
Opening last year as “one of the premier developments in the nation,” Bannon said the tower is now home to thousands of workers, retailers, restaurants and residents.
“The Lincoln Square expansion has transformed our skyline and the corner of Northeast Fourth and Bellevue Way,” he said. “It is the latest gem in what we know as The Bellevue Collection.”
The 750,000-square-foot building has 17 restaurants, Nordstrom Rack, Cinemark, Soul Cycle, a soon-to-open Capital One cafe, Lincoln South Food Hall and W Bellevue hotel – which Bannon said has the “most interesting restroom in Downtown.”
The other honorees of the Place Making Award included a team of city of Bellevue officials and the Rotary Club of Bellevue for its 34 years of work on Downtown Park’s ‘Closing the Circle’ project and Inspiration Playground.
“It is iconic, memorable and beautiful and it’s played a major role in the growth and economic success of Downtown Bellevue,” Bannon said. “It is also one of the world’s great urban parks.”
The idea for the park started with a council member, a parks director and a pitcher of beer at a pub house in 1983, and ended last year with the completion of a circular promenade that goes around the perimeter of the park, construction of a south entry and water feature, and a terrace amphitheater.
The park’s Inspiration Playground was not only partially funded by the Rotary Club of Bellevue but its longtime member and past president Rob Rose created its vision, which was inspired by his work with Nepali children with and without disabilities.
The campaign for the 1.5 acre playground raised more than $4.5 million and now serves children with and without disabilities, as Rose’s envisioned a place where all could play.
“The playground itself reinforces our community’s commitment to diversity and inclusion,” Bannon said. “
It has universally accessible design features, sensory rich play experiences and equipment suitable for all ages and abilities.”
For more information on the Bellevue Downtown Association’s 44th Annual Celebration, visit www.bellevuedowntown.com.