Council considers proposal to close street to make way for Bellevue College student housing

After hearing public comment, the Bellevue City Council scheduled a public hearing regarding the vacation of a city road on the Bellevue College campus.

The college wants to vacate the road to construct student housing, and needs city permission to do so. The public hearing is set for Feb. 21 as part of the regular council meeting.

Street vacation is a process in which a property owner adjacent to a public right-of-way can petition the city to acquire the right-of-way.

Additionally, the college is asking the city to consider waiving compensation for the vacation. The property is valued at anywhere from $750,000 to $825,000.

Ray White, Bellevue College’s vice president, described the request as a valuable opportunity for the city and the school.

“There’s a roadway now that we’ve purchased all the land around. It’s a dead-end spur from a cul-de-sac that no longer has any utility,” he said. “What we really need to do is move that road up a little bit and connect it so it has connectivity, but to do that we need to vacate the first piece, and the college is committed to putting in that roadway after that.”

The road in question is 145th Avenue Southeast, north of Southeast 26th Street, about 60 feet wide and encompasses 26,351 square feet, or about half an acre. Bellevue College owns all of the adjacent property.

White said that the area would be used for an approximately 132,725-square-foot building with 350 beds in 137 units for student housing on campus.

The units would be a mix of studios, two-bedroom and four-bedroom apartments, including kitchens and private bathrooms. A main lounge and cafe is part of the project description as well.

Bellevue College proposed that in exchange for the waiving of compensation, it would construct a bike path through campus. According to the city’s code, the city is legally allowed to waive compensation if the “council deems such a waiver to be in the public’s interest and advantage.” The college describes such a bike path as in the public benefit.

Betsi Hummer, a resident of the Sunset Ranch neighborhood adjacent to the college, said she was all for the new dorms, but had an issue with the lack of transparency.

“I was very surprised and thankful for friends who alerted me to the request for vacation on tonight’s agenda,” she said. “I would like to recommend the council reject the proposal. Send it back to staff for reconsideration and ask for a community meeting to discuss the proposal.”

Councilmember Jennifer Robertson told staff the outreach to local residents should be undertaken before other action is taken.

After reaching out to stakeholders and after the Feb. 21 meeting, the City Council can decide whether to vacate the road and if so, whether to waive compensation from the college.