• Council Roundup: Affordable housing incentive program update heads to public hearing

    Published on May 27 2021

    Plus, Bellevue voted Best City as it continues economic support activities

    On Monday, the City Council unanimously voted to move forward with updates to Bellevue’s Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) affordable housing incentive program, which will include a public hearing on the geographic expansion of the program and other program elements. 

    In the council’s third study session on the topic, councilmembers reviewed the complete package of proposed program update elements including alternatives to required unit size, mechanisms to achieve deeper affordability or additional affordable units when multiple incentive programs are used together, rent caps for affordable housing lease renewals, parking discounts and an expansion of the program to all multifamily areas in the city, which requires a public hearing. 

    If the public hearing is held in June the related code adjustments could be adopted in July. The updates are expected to double the utilization of the program from a current 50-75 units of affordable housing created per year to 110-160 units per year. The program update package and more background is available in the meeting materials.

    Bellevue voted Best City as it continues economic support activities 

    In other business, councilmembers were briefed on the first full quarter of economic development activities under the new economic development plan update approved in November, and highlighted a vote for Bellevue as Best City by 425 Magazine.

    The update focused on broad-based business recovery efforts, capacity building and partnerships, business support and workforce, all part of advancing the six new focus areas of the five-year economic development plan. First quarter highlights included unemployment continuing to trend lower, down to 4.4% in March from a high above 11% last spring. Hotel occupancy is up to a 12-month high, there is healthy competition for commercial space, and more than nine million square feet of office space is under development in the city with more than 90% of that pre-leased. 

    In addition, small business relief programs resulted in more than 6,000 businesses receiving federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, 112 businesses receiving city small business relief grants totaling $660,000, and more than 200 businesses helped through a technical assistance partnership program with Business Impact Northwest. Bellevue also participated in 20 regional workforce conversations and is involved in an equitable regional workforce plan.

    In continued efforts to promote Bellevue as a destination for tourists and locals alike, the city is working with key partners to activate unique spaces along the Grand Connection and recently launched the second round of expanded outdoor dining at more than 40 restaurants across the city. 425 Magazine recently published its Best of 425 awards, where Bellevue was voted by readers as the Best City.

    The full discussion and presentation is available through video replay on Bellevue Television.