After nearly five years in the making, a major land use code update to the Downtown neighborhood was approved by the City Council Monday night. The project, referred to as “Downtown Livability Initiative,” is aimed at making Bellevue’s fastest growing neighborhood more viable, livable and memorable. It is the first overhaul to the Downtown area in over 35 years.
“The Downtown Livability Initiative is a monumental body of work that will enhance the character and vibrancy of Downtown Bellevue today and into the future,” said Mayor John Stokes. “This significant land use code update really was a great team effort and I want to thank everyone who was involved in moving this vision forward.”
The adopted code amendments include the addition of standards to increase walkability, enhancements to neighborhood character, refinements to the amenity system and an allowance for taller buildings coupled with added ground-level public open space and more slender towers.
The council voted 6-0 to adopt the package and accompanying “safe harbor” provision, which would prevent office floor plate reductions from going below 20,000 square feet. Councilmember Kevin Wallace abstained from the vote. In July, he voluntarily recused himself from the project to avoid any perceived conflict of interest.
The process began in 2013 when the council appointed a citizen advisory committee to evaluate and identify possible changes to the Downtown code.
The group completed a set of recommendations which were then refined by the city’s Planning Commission. Earlier this year, the commission transmitted the draft package. The council later reviewed the substance of the Livability proposal, incorporating minor changes, during six study sessions this summer.
The new code becomes effective on Oct. 26.