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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Council Roundup: Downtown helistop permit approved

Also, consultant presents light rail report and funding approved for affordable senior housing

After more than two years of study, hundreds of pages of hearing examiner decisions and appeals, and multiple public hearings, the City Council on Monday approved a permit allowing helicopters to land on a downtown office building.

The conditional-use permit allows up to five landings-takeoffs per week on top of the 21-story Bank of America Building, located at 10500 Northeast Eighth St. A maximum of four landings will be allowed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and one on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Council members voted 6-0 (Councilman Grant Degginger was absent) in favor of granting the permit to Kemper Development Company. The company of downtown property owner Kemper Freeman Jr. applied for the permit in 2009. The helistop was constructed in 1988, and temporary permits have allowed for limited landings since that time.

Approval came after the council tightened several permit conditions out of concern about potential impacts on downtown residents. Changes mean that helicopters must adhere to a strict flight path on freeways and Northeast Eighth Street only; Kemper Development must document deviations in hours or frequency of operation; and the city has a right to modify or revoke the permit.

Feedback: Mary Kate Berens, Deputy City Attorney, 425-452-4616 or mkberens@bellevuewa.gov

Study session devoted to consultant's light rail report
Representatives of Arup North America Ltd., a consulting firm hired by the city to examine a light rail route from Interstate 90 to downtown Bellevue, briefed the council on a recently completed interim report.

Council members spent two hours listening to the presentation, asking questions and providing guidance for further study. A final report by Arup is scheduled for release in late July.

The interim report compares a light rail alignment (called B7-Revised) the council targeted for further examination with a similar route studied by Sound Transit (B7) in a draft environmental review of its East Link project. Arup found the B7-Revised alternative is a feasible alternative to B7 -- with improved ridership but a slightly higher cost. The new data will help the council evaluate various alignment options.

Both B7 routes roughly follow a path east along Interstate 90, then north along the western edge of Interstate 405 to downtown Bellevue. Both alternatives studied connect to a downtown tunnel (in Segment C of the project), but at different locations; both routes end at a proposed downtown light rail station in the tunnel.

For more information, see the city's light rail web pages or Sound Transit's East Link project pages.

Feedback: Maher Welaye, Project Manager, 425-452-4879 or mwelaye@bellevuewa.gov 

Funding approved for affordable senior housing
The council approved more than $900,000 in funding to renovate an 84-unit affordable senior housing complex. Downtown Action to Save Housing (DASH), the owner, must meet several conditions to ensure the complex is managed and maintained properly. 

To receive the money to fix the Evergreen Court Apartments, an independent and assisted-living complex at 900 124th Ave. NE, DASH must hire a new property manager and have regular property inspections. The choice of property manager is subject to approval by the council, as is an independent assessment of the property's operating budget.
Council members were concerned about allocating Housing Trust Fund and federal block-grant money to stabilize the property, which faces the possibility of foreclosure. DASH received $1.28 million in public funding when it acquired Evergreen Court in 2003.
Before submitting its funding request to the council, ARCH (A Regional Coalition for Housing) completed an independent review of DASH's management of Evergreen Court, as well as the extent of needed repairs.

The ARCH Executive Board ultimately recommended approval of the funding, noting that the affordable senior housing units would likely be lost if the property went into foreclosure. Also, replacing those units would cost considerably more than renovating the existing ones.

Bellevue funds will be used for roofing, deck repairs, replacement of a water heating tank and other building and site improvements.
Feedback: Arthur Sullivan, ARCH Program Manager, 425 861-3677 or asullivan@bellevuewa.gov 

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