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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Council Roundup: Lincoln Center property purchased

Also, proposed Eastside light rail draws keen interest

The Bellevue City Council Monday authorized staff to move forward with the purchase of the Lincoln Center property for future public uses.The stucco buildings with the red tile roofs, just east of I-405, constitute the Lincoln Center office park.

Acquisition of the 4.3-acre office park at 555 116th Avenue NE will allow the city to eventually improve high-occupancy vehicle and pedestrian mobility east from downtown, by extending Northeast Sixth Street across Interstate 405 to 120th Avenue Northeast.

The major street project, approved by the City Council on June 2, is a critical component of the city's long-term strategic plan to improve mobility in and out of Bellevue’s rapidly growing downtown area. Council members are expected to discuss capital funding for the project during budget deliberations this fall. 

City officials also said the property could be used for other public purposes, including the potential relocation of the Bellevue District Court from its current Surrey Downs location. That would make the Surrey Downs site available for park development.

The city is currently working with the Surrey Downs community to develop a park master plan for the property. That plan is scheduled for City Council review in September.

The city moved to purchase the Lincoln Center property after learning the present owner, Kent Central LLC, had plans to sell or redevelop it.

Under terms of the agreement, the city will pay $17.5 million for the property. Two, two-story office buildings totaling about 70,000 square feet are presently on the site. Existing tenants will be allowed to continue leasing space.

Feedback: Nora Johnson, 425-452-4167

Proposed light rail project draws keen interest
A large crowd turned out for Monday's Council study session to hear Sound Transit staff update elected officials on a proposed East Link Light Rail project that would run from Seattle to downtown Bellevue and possibly to Overlake.

Sound Transit recently sent letters to more than 100 property owners in Bellevue whose land could be impacted by one of several route alternatives under consideration. The agency presently is drafting a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project.

Attention is also sharpened because the Sound Transit Board of Directors is expected to make a decision soon whether to ask voters in November to fund the light rail line, as well as other regional rail extensions and expanded bus service. A roads and transit plan that would have funded the project was voted down in November 2007.

On Monday, Sound Transit provided a preview of the draft EIS, which is expected to be released this fall. The presentation included information on ridership, travel times, potentially affected properties and cost estimates for the various alternatives. Officials described the information as a "snapshot" prior to release of the draft environmental review.
The City Council has endorsed light rail as the preferred option for high-capacity transit along the I-90 corridor between Seattle and Bellevue. The preference is consistent with the Council's position supporting high-capacity transit as a major component of the city's long-term land use and transportation strategy.

For the past year, a Light Rail Best Practices Committee appointed by the City Council has studied what works and does not work in other cities with light rail systems, and has made policy recommendations based on its findings.

The effort will help Council members determine their light rail preferences, in conjunction with the broader community, after the draft EIS is released and public comments are heard and understood. Council members have repeatedly underscored the need to involve community members in every step of the high-capacity transit planning process.

Details about the East Link project, including the project update, are available on the city's East Link pages. Sound Transit has complete information aboutt the project.

Feedback: Bernard Van de Kamp, 425-452-6459 

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