Update: Council approves lease for district court relocation

Bellevue city councilmembers passed an 11-year lease agreement for the Bellefield Building as a win-win on Monday, ensuring new digs for district court and probation services, as well as making way for a city park in Surrey Downs.

While King County provides district court services in Bellevue through an interlocal agreement, the city must provide probation services and a place to house court services. The Surrey Downs location, built in the 1960s, is reported to require about $2.1 million in improvements to address code and life-safety issues, which led the council to adopt a 2013-14 budget that included relocation to another facility.

The lease agreement commits the city to paying $6.7 million to Talon Portfolio Services, LLC, over a period of 11 years and includes three options for five-year lease renewals at the 114th Avenue Southeast property. Lease payments will be made from the city's operating funds.

Among the new district court site's highlights are its easy access to bus stops, short walk to the South Bellevue Park and Ride, good distance from residences and adequate parking and space for court staff, said Max Jacobs, city real property manager.

The city has $4.45 million budgeted for the capital improvement project to renovate the facility, however, Jacobs said it was important to make sure the lease included a significant contribution by the landlord to tenant improvements. Meeting specifics for a courtroom facility will be expensive, he said. It is unclear what the city's share of tenant improvements and capital costs will be until construction bids are completed.

Councilmember John Chelminiak said there was a point where the city worried it would have to move its district court service to Issaquah, and he is happy an option was found in Bellevue.

"I think it's a win for the neighborhood, it's a win for the community in general," said Councilmember John Chelminiak, "and it's a win for the city, because we'll keep the court here and that's a critical urban city service."

Relocating the district court and probation services must occur before spring 2015, when Sound Transit begins construction of its East Link light rail guideway there. The city purchased the property from the county for future use as a Surrey Downs park, which is still planned for construction. Sound Transits East Link alignment meant revising the 2009 master plan for the park to coexist in the same area.

The city park board is slated to approve the update tonight and will then submit it to the City Council for approval. A presentation of the updated master plan can be found here.


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