The Bellevue City Council received an update on the future plans for the Wilburton Commercial Area at its July 2 meeting.
A citizen advisory committee (CAC) gave council a presentation on the long-term redevelopment plan.
With light rail being planned to come through the western portion Wilburton area, as well as increased access through Bellevue’s Grand Connection project and the Eastside Railway Corridor, the CAC was formed to conduct a study and make a recommendation to council regarding a new vision for the area.
The west section of Wilburton that is being examined is a 300-acre area boxed in by I-405 to the west, Northeast 12th Street to the north and the Wilburton Trestle at the south. The eastern side runs long 118th, 120th and 124th avenues northeast to provide a buffer from the Wilburton Hill neighborhood.
The city has identified the western section of the district, which sits adjacent to the east of the downtown district, as “the next great urban neighborhood of Bellevue.”
The CAC has been working on a land use, urban design and transportation vision for the area since 2017 and has now presented their recommended vision to the city. That vision sets a guide to development of the area through 2035. The proposed vision for the area is an urban hub will be able to take advantage of the infrastructure and transportation improvements coming to the area.
Studying intended uses, zoning locations and urban planning and design, the CAC worked with staff to create a preferred vision that places higher-density buildings, much like those seen in downtown, in the eastern core along 116th Avenue Northeast, specifically between Northeast 4th Street and Northeast 8th Street.
Jeremy Barksdale, co-chair of the CAC, explained the group’s intent for land use to council. Density and height would taper off from the core to create a smooth transition to the eastern Wilburton Hill neighborhood.
“We sought to concentrate the highest density and height closest to downtown where we envision a civic space that would foster social and economic exchanges that strengthen community. From there, density and height step down, providing a graceful transition to the surrounding context,” Barksdale said. “In terms of place making, we envision the Wilburton Commercial Area as vibrant and diverse with a mix of residential dwellings, offices, recreational spaces, and entertainment venues that will keep the area active throughout the day and night.”
Barksdale also said the CAC encourages incentivizing amenities that will support capacity and opportunity for affordable housing, workforce housing and social services.
Lei Wu, co-chair of the CAC, explained that the multi-modal transportation opportunities for the area were some of the most important aspects to incorporate into the vision. With light rail, the Eastside Railway Corridor and the Grand Connection, transportation locally as well as between the cities will be fundamental to the success of the commercial area. There is a large emphasis on creating and supporting pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure, she said.
Community development director Mac Cummins said that with the completion and presentation of the vision, the CAC has finished their work completely. It is now on city staff and council to keep working on the initiation of the vision.
With the CAC having completed its vision plan, it is now up to the city staff to work on preparing council with the information to proceed with the project. There are still many steps to the process, the first of which is to return to council in the fall for additional discussion on the initiation of Wilburton policy and code amendments. The final environmental impact statement will be complete this fall as well.
In long-term goals, staff has planned to have comprehensive plan amendments complete by December 2019 and to have land use code and design guidelines complete by the first half of 2020.
More information on the project can be found on the city’s “Wilburton – Grand Connection” web page under the community development department’s planning initiatives section.