Carl Vander Hoek returned to the City Council on Monday with a proposal for a public-private partnership to construct underground parking at Downtown Park to meet future demand there and in adjacent Old Bellevue.
Vander Hoek had told councilmembers during their last meeting he would be soliciting support from downtown stakeholders, announcing Monday he now has the support of the Bellevue Downtown Association, with plans to bring the Rotary Club of Bellevue and Bellevue Chamber of Commerce into future discussions. Project manager for the family company, Vander Hoek Corporation, he was joined Monday by fellow Old Bellevue Merchants Association members to appeal for a parking solution.
With the city’s plans to begin completing the circle at Downtown Park and constructing the Inspiration Playground next summer, Vander Hoek told the council this is the last opportunity to use the public property to increase parking capacity underground. A stack of binders filled with research beside him, the developer questioned how the city has no plans to increase parking at the park when it currently boasts 250 events there, drawing in 170,000 people annually.
Randi Brazen, who owns Brazen Sotheby’s International Realty with her husband, Joseph, said they had to relocate their realty office from Main Street to the Crossroads due to a lack of parking. Their Old Bellevue restaurant, 520 Bar and Grill, helped revitalize the neighborhood, she said. But it too is losing business, Brazen said, with people calling to cancel reservations after being unable to find parking.
“They end up going to the (Bellevue Square) mall because there’s adequate parking there,” she said.
Dennis True of Old and Elegant Distributing told the council that inadequate parking has existed in Old Bellevue as far back as the ’60s, and the problem now continues to be the employees of those businesses along Main Street taking up available on-street spots. Solving employee parking will solve customer parking, he said.
Vander Hoek said he has also contacted a consulting firm that works with the city of Seattle for its parking needs to determine what options may be available to curb the parking problem. The council has not discussed this proposal, so far, nor has it directed staff to take it up for consideration.