Downtown Park - Complete the Circle
The Downtown Park is coming "full circle"!
Ohno Construction began construction on both the Complete the Circle and Inspiration Playground projects on July 11. Construction is anticipated to be complete in June 2017. During the construction period, the southern half of the Downtown Park will be closed to public access. However, the existing southeast parking lot will be accessible for use (at a decreased capacity) until the new 100th Avenue NE lot is finished. The parking lot along 100th Avenue NE will only be temporarily closed to public access. There will also be intermittent closures of the northern half of the Downtown Park as improvements to the lighting and promenade are performed.
Status - construction
Following an exhaustive permitting process, the development and land use permits and plans for the project have been approved, and construction has begun.
With the schedule delay due to the recent appeal of the project's State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) permit, the permit approvals for the Inspiration Playground have "caught up" with the Complete the Circle permits, and the City has now combined the projects into a single construction project.
The City undertook an open and competitive public bidding process to select a general contractor for the Downtown Park project(s), and Ohno Construction has been selected as the lowest responsible bidder. Ohno Constuction has existed since 1966 and has successfully constructed parks and atheltic facilities in Alaska, California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.
Construction is anticipated to be complete in June 2017.
During the construction period, the southern half of the Downtown Park will be closed to public access. However, the existing southeast parking lot will be accessible for use (at a decreased capacity) until the new 100th Avenue NE lot is finished. The parking lot along 100th Avenue NE will only be temporarily closed to public access.
There will also be intermittent closures of the northern half of the Downtown Park as improvements to the lighting and promenade are performed.
Downtown Park Projects - Open House
From the initial Downtown Park (DTP) international design competition and 1984 DTP design adoption, through two initial phases of construction, and a master plan update in 1997 - the DTP has become one of the most recognizable and well-used places in Bellevue's park system. Large events are successfully held at the DTP, and the open nature of the Park allows for both passive and recreational amenities.
While the DTP has become a highly popular park, the circular promenade and entry remain unfinished. The unfinished portion of the circle currently functions as a vehicular entrance and parking area, and a portion of the area identified for expanded parking along the west edge of the park is occupied by the Ballet Arts building. Additionally the existing playground, which includes an adjacent parking lot and restroom, is among the most popular playgrounds in the community.
In a demonstration of support, the citizens of Bellevue passed the 2008 Parks & Natural Areas Levy, including the additional phase of the DTP master plan, "Completing the Circle."
The Bellevue Rotary approached the City seeking a project to benefit the community and to celebrate Bellevue Rotary's 50th Anniversary. Working closely with the City, the Bellevue Rotary proposed a partnership project to expand the existing DTP playground with a focus on inclusive, accessible play opportunities, known as "Inspiration Playground." Bellevue Rotary has strongly endorsed the playground concept, and has committed to its most significant fundraising effort ever to construct the Bellevue Rotary Inspiration Playground.
On March 26, 2015, an open house was held at City Hall to share the designs for the DPT with Bellevue residents. The informational tables/stations were divided into five areas:
- DTP Events
- DTP History
- Inspiration Playground
- Complete the Circle
- DTP Transportation
Each of these stations included design boards displayed on easels and a table with drawings on which attendees could make comments. Representatives from the Parks Department and the design teams provided information, answered questions, and recorded comments from attendees. Comment cards were also available.
The open house format allowed people to come at a time most convenient for them. Over 80 people attended the event, and many comments were recorded.
The design boards are linked below in the five groupings presented at the open house. Additional details have been added to some boards to include information that staff provided at the open house.
Changes Coming to Your Downtown Park
The Downtown Park has become one of the most recognizable and well-loved places in Bellevue, and plays a pivotal role in making downtown Bellevue an appealing place to live, work and play.
The Bellevue City Council took a bold step in 1984 by adopting the Downtown Park Master Plan. Since then, the city has worked to fulfill the vision of that plan, completing two major construction phases. However, the distinctive circular promenade and entry at 102nd Avenue NE remain unfinished, currently functioning as a temporary vehiclular entrance and parking area. In 2008, Bellevue voters passed the Parks & Natural Areas Levy that included funding to complete the circular promenade and canal, a major entry at 102nd Avenue NE, and relocation of parking to an expanded parking lot off of 100th Avenue NE.
Additionally, the existing playground will be expanded through a partnership with the Bellevue Rotary. Known as the Inspiration Playground, it will retain the popularity of the existing playground with an added focus on inclusive, accessible play opportunities "dedicated to fun, imagination and learning, where all ages and abilities play and explore at their own pace."
The city has contracted with MacLeod Reckord Landscape Architects for design and engineering services for the project. Construction is tentatively scheduled to start in the summer 2016 and last approximately a year.
In the early 1980s, shortly after acquiring property from the school district, the city conducted an international design competition for Bellevue Downtown Park. A park committee judged 67 entries and selected a concept submitted by the firm of Beckley-Meyers. Elements of the Beckley-Meyers design included:
- circular promenade for walking;
- central open space;
- allée of trees bordering the promenade;
- continuous canal terminating in a waterfall, cascades and reflecting pool; and
- small park venues (between street and promenade) for activities - including a formal garden, outdoor performance space, picnicking area and children's play area.
In 1984 the City Council approved a Downtown Park master plan, which incorporated the Beckley-Meyers design and laid out several phases of construction for developing the park. Parts of the plan, including the circular promenade, were not completed. The unfinished portion of the circle functions as a vehicular entrance and parking area. Additionally, a portion of the area identified for expanded parking along the west edge of the park is occupied by the Ballet Arts building, which has been rented to a local dance troupe.
In 1997, confronted with a variety of competing interests for Downtown Park, the city was compelled to conduct a public process to determine if the master plan still met the city's needs. Although some details were modified, the 1997 Master Plan Graphic and Report retained and reaffirmed Downtown Park's design and purpose.
In 2008, Bellevue citizens passed the Parks & Natural Areas Levy that approved funding to complete additional phases of the Downtown Park master plan, including completion of the circular promenade, entry and water feature. The scope of work for this contract includes the design, public outreach, permit assistance and construction assistance for:
Southeast Entrance and Circle:
- Completion of the canal, promenade, water features and allée of trees.
- Formal connection between Downtown Park and "Old Bellevue" (termination of 102nd Avenue Northeast).
- Terraced seating and event space, including stairways and accessible paths.
Consolidation of Parking:
- Expand the parking lot.
- Accommodate parallel parking spaces along 100th Avenue Northeast.
- Provide views into the park from the street, while providing easy access for users.
- Explore the feasibility and cost of an underground parking garage.
Landscape and Infrastructure Enhancements:
- Provide planting along the edges which will guide people to the park's entrances.
- Organize the landscaping in a manner that will provide the park user a sense of safety and visibility.
- Demolition of existing structures, including the Ballet Arts building.
- Integration of the Bellevue Rotary Inspiration Playground and picnicking area.
1997 Downtown Park Master Plan Graphic and Report (note that the Report is a very large file)