Bellevue makes final offer for Fourth Street properties

This image shows what Phase 2 of the Northeast Fourth Street extension from 116th to 120th avenues northeast will occur. - City of Bellevue
This image shows what Phase 2 of the Northeast Fourth Street extension from 116th to 120th avenues northeast will occur.
— image credit: City of Bellevue

The Bellevue City Council put its best offer on the table Monday night to acquire contentious property rights needed to extend Northeast Fourth Street to 120th Avenue Northeast. Mayor Claudia Balducci opposed the offer in order to send a message that she feels the offer goes "too far" after Best Buy and another property owner repeatedly demanded more money from the city.

A transportation project of major importance to several others in the Wilburton and Bel-Red areas of the city, councilmembers conceded extending Northeast Fourth from 116th to 120th avenues northeast was the linchpin project that couldn't be scrapped. And, after lengthy legal mitigation, the council put out an offer to Bellevue 116th Property LLC and Best Buy for $6.2 million and $12.84 million, respectively.

A new five-lane arterial Northeast Fourth is planned to cut through the south end of the Best Buy store and parking lot during Phase Two of the project, slated to start in 2015 with the entire roadway opened by fall 2016.

The city is exercising eminent domain to run its transportation project through a portion of the Best Buy store, however, the retail company also filed suit over the city's actions.

The Northeast Fourth extension, from where it ends at 116th Avenue Northeast to 120th Avenue Northeast, is part of several projects to improve mobility between downtown Bellevue, the Bel-Red corridor and Overlake area.

The city's offer expires on May 5, and Councilmember John Chelminiak said he's not going to negotiate further. Every time the city thought it was close to a resolution for property rights, said Chelminiak, the property owners wanted a more substantial offer — the most recent coming in a half hour before the council was to meet in executive session to discuss the legal matter on Monday.

"I want to make it very, very clear," said Chelminiak. "I'm done. We've been through this enough."

Balducci said she is also done and opposed the offer. She said it wasn't because she doesn't share the council's desire to finish the Northeast Fourth project, but that it was too much — grant funding for the project would be used to cover settlement costs. The motion was approved by a 6-1 vote.

"I want to go on record to say that we've gone too far," the mayor said, adding how odd the occasion was that they went through so many executive sessions and took up the issue in such a fashion that night. "It's crazy what we've had to do on this project."

The city already has granted Best Buy conditional approval to remodel its storefront to make way for the ongoing Northeast Fourth Street extension project and recover lost retail and parking space.

Best Buy will demolish 11,021 square feet of retail space on the south side of its Bellevue store and add 9,964 square feet to its north side. The store will add a single-story parking garage on its east side to accommodate up to 226 vehicles.


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