Botanical Garden is growing; New visitor center, gardens to open in June

Glenn Kost, city parks planning and development manager, gives a media tour of the Bellevue Botanical Garden
Glenn Kost, city parks planning and development manager, gives a media tour of the Bellevue Botanical Garden's new visitors center, which is under construction.
— image credit: Brandon Macz

A little mud isn't hindering construction of a new visitors center at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, which is slated to open in June.

The 8,500-square-foot visitors center is at 75 percent completion, said Glenn Kost, city park planning and development manager, adding planting for new gardens could start later this month.

"On the ground, there's actually a series of buildings connected by a roof line," he said of the visitors center's inverted "L" shape. "It's one roof, but they're a series of room with breezeways connecting."

Bellevue City Council approved the $10 million contract for the garden project last March, the project itself approved by voters in the 2008 Parks and Natural Areas Levy. The Bellevue Botanical Garden Society has committed to footing half the bill.

"We started the campaign in the spring of 2009, kind of laying the foundation, which is a lot of behind the scene work," said Denise Lane, chairwoman for the garden society's capital campaign. "We're almost to our goal. We're about $800,000 shy of where we need to be."

Kost said that won't prevent the visitors center from opening in mid-June, nor will it stop the installation of a new water feature and fern, wetland and Iris gardens, among other additions.

"There's thousands of plants to put in the ground," he said. "They're going to blitz this thing for a number of weeks."

The garden society's "Growing a Living Legacy" campaign efforts also paid for development of the Ravine Garden Experience, which opened spring 2012.

"It's just fabulous. It's like you're in the center of wilderness, but you're still in the middle of Bellevue," said Lane.

The city is also shooting for a gold rating under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards for construction. Points are awarded for sustainable practices, such as using low-impact drainage, recycled content and using local building materials.

"We are certain of receiving a silver," Kost said. "There's still a possibility of receiving gold."


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