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New Business in Bellevue

Skyscrapers are sprouting at an unprecedented rate, the downtown population is expected to nearly double by 2030, and change is in the works in the Bel-Red corridor. All ev­idence suggests a boom in Bellevue, and Aaron Laing says now is the time to build a business in the city.

The Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt land-use attorney and chair of the Bellevue Planning Commission says Bellevue is becoming a hive for tech com­panies, and other industries are reaping the benefits. We asked Laing to discuss the city’s growth.

Why is it a good time for new businesses to locate to Bellevue?

Bellevue is a great place for new businesses for several reasons. First, there is a strong core of high-tech and financial institutions in Bellevue and throughout the Eastside in general. This critical mass of human capital creates terrific opportunities for new businesses to locate here and recruit top-notch talent.

Second — and this is related to the first reason — there is high demand for new retail, restaurants and other sorts of quality-of-life businesses in Bellevue. This not only stems from the influx of well-paid workers who are choosing to make their homes and start families in the area, but also from longtime residents who desire to have these amenities closer to home.

Lastly, the city recently has committed to completing the master plan for Bellevue Downtown Park, which will make this crown jewel of Bellevue’s park system an even greater public attraction and center for urban recreation. So the bottom line is that there are now terrific opportunities for all sorts of new businesses in Bellevue.

Which parts of town are most exciting from a development standpoint?

Two parts of the city come to mind in particular — the new Spring District (A) at the start of the Bel-Red corridor near the junction of state Highway 520 and Interstate 405, and the Eastern entrance to downtown between 112th Avenue Northeast and the freeway (B).

The Spring District is an example of farsighted, integrated development that will be very attractive to both businesses and residents looking for a great new home. Not only will the Spring District grow Bellevue’s urban center to the northeast and across I-405, it also will bring more high-quality retail and mixed-use development to the Eastside. The site is also on a bit of a rise, so I think the views from the taller buildings there will be amazing.

Regarding the stretch of property between 112th and I-405, it’s significant because in many ways this is the gateway to downtown Bellevue, and with the probable extension of the urban core’s mixed zoning regulations to this area, development here is likely to move beyond low-rise commercial to greater height and density. This will bring the density, activity, and vibrancy of downtown right up to 405. Both of these areas also happen to be along Sound Transit’s East Link extension. (East Link has a targeted opening of 2023.)