The trees lining Bellevue Way have been decorated in sparkling holiday lights and the toy drums have arrived and line the sidewalks. Soon toy soldiers will take their places on top of the drums. The holidays are almost here.
The Bellevue Collection’s Snowflake Lane will have a different look this year. The holiday season kicks off November 27th with a nightly celebration of lights, music and the occasional “snow” shower along Bellevue Way between NE 8th and NE 4th Streets. Keeping everyone’s safety in mind, there will be no parade or performers this year, but every night between 5:00 PM and 9:00 PM through December 24th you can still take a walk or drive down Bellevue Way and enjoy the sights, sounds and spirit of the season.
Its been rumored for years that Factoria Mall would be redeveloped to make better use of the large parcel. The mall and several free standing buildings currently occupy the 43 acre site. An application for design review has been submitted to the City of Bellevue for redevelopment of the Marketplace at Factoria. Eight phases are planned which will include expanding current retail space, adding a multi-family residential building, 150 room hotel, office buildings and renovation of the existing mall to increase the size and create an open-air shopping mall. Current retail tenants may need to be relocated throughout the redevelopment process that will add 151,000 square feet of retail to the mall’s current 525,948 square feet. The project will be completed in 8 phases.
Improvements include pedestrian improvements to create a safer walking environment, enhanced landscaping, an extension of the bike/pedestrian path and a new crosswalk across SE 38th Street.
Later phases of the project will add a large gathering plaza to connect to two new office buildings to be constructed on the current Walmart site, which will be moved to a new location within the project.
Every year I watch for this maple tree in McCormick Park to change color. Each year the color is a bit different but it never disappoints. The fall colors around downtown Bellevue this season have been exceptionally vibrant – maybe the hot weather the end of summer, the smoke in September or exceptionally cold temperatures earlier this month had something to do with the abundance of fall color this year. Downtown Bellevue has so many parks and tree lined streets offering an amazing variety of color. Take the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fall colors before the rain and wind predicted for later this week end the beautiful fall display.
Election Day is just 20 days away. Washington State ballots will be mailed this week, so watch for yours in your mailbox. A brisk voter turnout is expected, so it’s recommended you complete and return your ballot early – either by mail or deliver it to one of the official ballot drop boxes.
Bellevue has three ballot drop box locations:
Downtown Bellevue/Bellevue Library
1111 110th Avenue NE
Crossroads Mall (south entrance)
15600 NE 8th Street
Newport Way Library
14250 SE Newport Way
To find ballot box locations in other cities, if you have questions about or need to update your voter registration, or if you need assistance call or email King County Elections at 206-296-8683 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can go online and track your ballot after you’ve delivered your ballot.
Every year Livability.com ranks the best 100 small to midsize cities to live in the country based on affordability, safety, economic stability, outdoor recreation, accessibility and community engagement. This year the survey added an “opportunity score” which reflects the city’s job offerings, economic resilience and growth.
Fort Collins, CO was ranked the best place to live in 2020 followed by:
- Fort Collins, CO
- Ann Arbor, MI
- Madison, WI
- Portland, ME
- Rochester, NY
- Asheville, NC
- Overland Park, KS
- Fargo, ND
- Durham, NC
- Sioux Falls, SD
The Pacific Northwest was well represented with nine cities making the list:
Corvalis, OR #19
Bellingham, WA #33
Bend, OR #45
Eugene, OR #46
Spokane, WA #49
Vancouver, WA #59
Olympia, WA #66
Beaverton, OR #67
Tacoma, WA #75
To view the entire list of this year’s best places to live visit Livability.com.
Social distancing restrictions are going to limit traditional Halloween activities this year. If you’re looking for a fun family event, check out Bellevue’s Vasa Park Resort Drive-In Theatre. Classic Halloween movies will be shown this weekend and again the weekend of October 23rd/24th.
Some dates are already sold out . . . visit Vasa Park’s website (https://www.vasaparkresorteventcenter.com) for the movie schedule, tickets and concessions menu.
Friday, October 9th Hocus Pocus sold out
Saturday, October 10th Coco: Day of the Dead sold out
Friday, October 23rd Addams Family
I visit McCormick Park daily with my dog. A couple years ago the City of Bellevue Parks Department planted a new tree, a Mimosa tree, which is unique to this area. I grew up on the East coast where Mimosa trees are common. They thrive in warm southern climates, attract butterflies and hummingbirds and are one of the few trees that bloom in summer with big pink or white puffball blossoms. They’re also very unique in that their fern-like leaves fold closed in the evening or when it rains.
I have fond memories of Mimosa trees. My grandparents had two in their yard. They grow in a wide canopy-like shape and my sister and I would gather the pink puffballs and sit under the tree stringing the blossoms together to create necklaces and bracelets and occasionally adorn my grandmother’s cat with a pink collar. Skippy never seemed to appreciate her puffy pink collars.
I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for nearly 40 years and have never seen a Mimosa tree growing locally. It’s fun to enter the park and see the tree in full bloom with those big pink puffballs. Thanks to the City of Bellevue for a little bit of nostalgia.
Did you know . . . the City of Bellevue has over 2,700 acres of open space, 90+ miles of multi-use trails, lakefront parks, a farm, golf courses and dozens of playgrounds, sports courts, ball fields and picnic shelters. While many of the larger parks are well known, there are dozens of small parks downtown and in neighborhoods throughout the city.
I live on the north end of downtown. McCormick Park runs in front of my community providing a colorful pedestrian buffer between along NE 12th Street. Just under three acres, the park stretches from 102nd Avenue NE to 112th Avenue NE. There’s a groomed walking trail, benches, picnic tables and open lawn area for adults, kids and leashed pets. In the spring there is an explosion of color from dozens of mature rhododendrons and gardens. In a busy city this small park provides a quiet place to enjoy a work day lunch break, walk, play, relax or picnic year round. I’m a dog owner, so I’m at McCormick Park daily. I’m lucky to have access to a nearby urban getaway where I can enjoy the skyline view while the pups roll in the grass and lounge in the sun. The park has been my major “go to” spot during the quarantine.
Find a park near your home or workplace. Visit the City of Bellevue Parks & Community Services website bellevuewa.gov to find your neighborhood park.
I’ve lived in Bellevue for over 30 years and downtown for the past dozen years. During the past several weeks of stay home/stay healthy I’ve logged a lot of miles around downtown Bellevue, often accompanied by two spoiled dogs. I know this city pretty well but have been surprised by the the pocket parks, public plazas and courtyards in commercial spaces and viewpoints I’ve discovered for the first time. And while currently closed, I’ve also found new coffee, dining and dessert options to put on my list to try this summer.
It’s going to be a beautiful weekend with summer-like weather predicted for several days. Wherever you live, take advantage of the sunshine and reduced traffic – ride your bike, take a walk, walk the dog, explore your neighborhood, investigate the city, visit the Botanical Gardens or Downtown Park or one of several lake front parks. You may be surprised by what you find.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, grand-moms, great grand-moms and dog and cat moms.