Downtown Bellevue is undergoing rapid change. It is currently the second largest city center in Washington state with over 35,000 employees and 5,000 residents. Lincoln Square, which opened in 2005, and a recently-completed overhaul of the former Qwest building into a new City Hall appear to be the leading edge of a development boom. Over the next few years, the area will see the construction of several additional high-rises and other projects for office, residential, and retail space.
Based on per capita income, Bellevue is the 15th wealthiest of 522 communities in the state of Washington. Bellevue was recently named number 1 in CNNMoney's list of the best places to live and launch businesses.
Bellevue is French for "Beautiful View"
Following the 1963 opening of a second bridge across the lake, the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, the city began to grow more rapidly. It has since become one of the largest cities in the state, with several high-rise structures in its core and a burgeoning business community.
Reflective of Bellevue's growth over the years is Bellevue Square, now one of the largest shopping centers in the region. Opened in 1946, Bellevue Square underwent a significant expansion in the 1980s. More recently, an expansion to Bellevue Square along Bellevue Way called "The Lodge" and the new One Lincoln Tower promise to strengthen downtown Bellevue's role as the largest Seattle Eastside shopping and dining destination. The Bravern, a large mixed-use project currently under construction, will feature a Neiman Marcus (the first in the Pacific Northwest), along with an assortment of upscale stores.
The City's long-term plans include the Bel-Red Corridor Project, a large-scale planning effort to encourage the redevelopment of a large northern section of the City bordering the adjacent town of Redmond. Patterned after what many civic leaders consider the successful redevelopment of the downtown core, early plans include "superblock" mixed use projects similar to Lincoln Square. Premised on the eventual approval of the extension of light-rail to the Eastside, the City hopes to mitigate transportation problems impeding earlier efforts in redeveloping the downtown core; viewed as an economic development opportunity by many in the business and building development community, the process has focused on infrastructure and the encouragement of private construction in a large-scale urban renewal effort.
Here some of the buildings:
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 33.9 square miles (87.8 km²), of which, 30.8 square miles (79.6 km²) of it is land and 3.2 square miles (8.2 km²) of it (9.29%) is water.
The city's name is derived from a French term for "beautiful view". Under favorable weather conditions, scenic vistas of the Olympic Mountains and Cascade Mountains can be viewed from hilltops (and strategically-positioned high-rise buildings) within the incorporated city.
The city lies between Lake Washington to the west and the smaller Lake Sammamish to the east. Much of Bellevue is drained by the Kelsey Creek watershed, whose source is located in the Larsen and Phantom Lake greenbelt and whose outlet is near where Interstate 90 meets Lake Washington's eastern shore. The city is bisected by Interstate 405 running north-south, and the southern portion is crossed from west to east by Interstate 90. The State Route 520 freeway roughly delineates the upper reaches of Bellevue.
Bellevue is bordered by the cities of Kirkland to the north and Redmond to the northeast along the Overlake and Crossroads neighborhoods. Across the short East Channel Bridge, I-90 connects Bellevue to Mercer Island to the southwest. Issaquah is to the east, down I-90 at the south end of Lake Sammamish. The city is also bordered to the west by the extremely wealthy suburbs of Medina, Clyde Hill, Hunts Point and Yarrow Point. The south end of Bellevue is bordered by the city of Renton, and to the southeast, the relatively recently incorporated city of Newcastle.
The East Link light rail line is planned to run from Seattle through Mercer Island and Bellevue before ending in Redmond. A measure including this and other regional road and transit projects went before voters in November 2007 and was defeated, so it is uncertain when East Link will be built, if at all. The financial uncertainty of the area's numerous transportation projects reflect the political fragmentation of the Puget Sound area. What is becoming apparent are the increasing costs associated with the central Puget Sound's regional transportation infrastructure.
Bellevue is also served by a railroad, a Burlington Northern branch line known as the Woodinville Subdivision, which includes the historic Wilburton Trestle. This local freight line is the subject of a controversial plan by King County to remove the rails and replace them with a bicycle trail. In response, a grass roots movement has sprung up to both save the railroad and begin a rail transit service on it as an alternative to the heavily congested I-405 freeway, which runs roughly parallel to it.
Bellevue has a Council-Manager form of government with seven, non-partisan council members elected at large for staggered four-year terms. The City Council selects a Mayor from among its members, who serves as council chair but has no veto power. As of 2006, the mayor is Grant Degginger and the city's manager is Steve Sarkozy.
The position of Mayor is largely ceremonial in Bellevue as the City Manager runs the City's day-to-day operations. The mayor runs council meetings, helps choose the issues that get on the council's meeting agendas, and serves as the city's most visible spokesperson. The position of Mayor is part-time. In practice, operational authority is held by the City Manager, the position that supervises an employee/consultant form of municipal authority. Indeed, more consideration is given the selection of City Manager than many candidates for City Council, the position of Mayor elected not by popular vote but by the seven members of Council.
The city hosts the Bellevue School District. There are four main public high schools - Bellevue High School, Interlake High School, Newport High School, and Sammamish High School, as well as two alternative high schools, International School and Robinswood High School.
Companies headquartered or with major operations in Bellevue include:
There were 45,836 households out of which 27.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.0% were married couples living together, 7.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.6% were non-families. 28.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the city the population was spread out with 21.1% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 32.6% from 25 to 44, 25.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 98.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.6 males.
According to a 2006 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $76,757, and the median income for a family was $89,020. Males had a median income of $56,456 versus $37,124 for females. The per capita income for the city was $36,905. About 3.8% of families and 5.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.7% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.
Bellevue was rated one of the 25 safest cities in America, based on the per-capita incidence of violent crime. On the same subject, the Bellevue Police Department is strongly supported by the community.
Bellevue is rapidly growing in size and diversity, a fact which outdates old censuses. It is now home to a larger percentage of nonwhite residents than Seattle. Nearly a third of the city's residents are foreign-born, up from a quarter five years ago. Bellevue has the highest percentage of foreign-born residents among major cities in the state. In 2005, 32% of residents are nonwhite. The largest communities come from China, India, Russia and Mexico, attracted to business and tech industry jobs, manual labor jobs, quality schools and parks.
Bellevue has the largest and most affluent Asian population in the state. As of 2005, 25% of the city's residents identify themselves as Asian, a rise from 17% in 2000. East Indian and Chinese communities have doubled in size since 2000.
The Bellevue Arts Museum first opened in 1975, then moved to Bellevue Square in 1983. In 2001 the museum moved into its own building, designed by Steven Holl. The museum subsequently ran into financial difficulties and was forced to close to the public in 2003. After a lengthy fundraising campaign, a remodel, and a new mission to become a national centre for the fine art of craft and design, the museum re-opened on June 18, 2005 with an exhibition of teapots.
The Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art contains one of the largest doll collections in the world—more than a thousand dolls—displayed on two floors of a Victorian-style building.
Opened in December 2005, Bellevue’s newest museum to date is KidsQuest Children’s Museum. Located in Factoria Mall, a shopping complex in the midst of a major remodel, its primary visitors are mothers and care givers with children from pre-crawlers to 12 years of age. Its 10,000 square foot space houses play and discovery areas, exhibits, offices, educational activities and classroom space.
The biennial Bellevue Sculpture Exhibition draws thousands of visitors to the Downtown Park to view up to 46 three-dimensional artworks from artists around the country.
Bellevue holds an annual Strawberry Festival to celebrate its strawberry farming history.