The Grand Connection is Bellevue’s signature downtown place-serving initiative, and functions as a series of cohesive, connected and memorable spaces and pedestrian-focused experiences through the heart of downtown Bellevue.
With a length of over 1.5 miles, the Grand Connection begins at the waterfront of Lake Washington at Meydenbauer Bay Park, and winds through Old Bellevue and Downtown Park. It continues through Bellevue’s dynamic retail and civic-focused parts of downtown, across Interstate 405 and ultimately connects with the regional Eastrail (formerly called "Eastside Rail Corridor") in the Wilburton commercial area.
Ultimately the Grand Connection will influence the land use patterns of the Wilburton commercial area by improving connectivity to downtown and creating a landmark piece of infrastructure.
Staff in several city departments are involved in updating the existing Pedestrian Corridor and Major Public Open Space Guidelines to reflect the elements of the Grand Connection Framework Plan vision and the project’s role as a Council Priority. These new guidelines and standards, referred to as the Grand Connection Sequence One Guidelines and Standards, will support the vision to improve livability, access, and placemaking along the route between the intersection of 100th Avenue NE and Main Street and the Bellevue Transit Center (NE 6th Street and 110th Avenue NE). The guidelines are applied to private-sector development projects that are located along the Grand Connections.
- Grand Connection Framework Plan: Sequence One
- Grand Connection Framework Plan: Sequence Two – Interstate 405 Crossing
Who Has Been Involved
Many voices have been included in the development of this effort, including (and not limited to):
- Bellevue Planning Commission
- Local residents, including youth voices
- 425 Business
- Bellevue Chamber of Commerce
- Bellevue Downtown Association
- Business and Economic Forums
- Congress for New Urbanism
- Daily Journal of Commerce
- King 5 News
- Puget Sound Business Journal
- The Registry
- King County
- Sound Transit
- Woodridge Neighborhood Association
- Urban Land Institute
- 2015: The Bellevue City Council approved the work plan for the Grand Connection planning initiative and identified it as a Council Priority. The visioning for the Grand Connection began in April 2016 to develop high-level strategies regarding aesthetic enhancements such as paving, weather protection, intersections, art and culture, and vegetation; as well as concepts to key public space locations and mobility.
- 2017: Council adopted the Grand Connection Framework Plan: Sequence One (link below) which established the high-level vision for the corridor between Meydenbauer Bay and the Civic Center District.
- 2018: Council adopted the Grand Connection Framework Plan: Sequence Two, which established the high-level vision for the corridor between I-405 and Eastrail.
- 2018: Staff provided the Commission an overview of the Grand Connection vision and highlighted the work associated with the Comprehensive Plan Amendments, Land Use Code updates, and design guidelines. Amendments to the Comprehensive Plan specific to the Grand Connection were accepted on December 10, 2018 (Ordinance 6449).
- 2016 - 2018: Staff launched a series of pedestrian corridor transportation improvements projects aimed at crosswalk enhancements along the existing pedestrian corridor route as part of the Downtown Transportation Plan implementation (adopted 2013).
- 2019: Staff, in collaboration with the Bellevue Downtown Association, led the Grand Connection Activation Pilot to identify near-term activation strategies—leading to the temporary installation of lanterns and seating along the route.
- 2019: Staff launched the development of the Grand Connection Sequence One Guidelines and Standards as one strategy for implementing elements from the Grand Connection Framework Plan.