Bellevue College will participate in a public hearing on Feb. 21 to persuade the city council for permission to vacate 145th Avenue Southeast north of the parking garage. This request will prepare the college for the construction of the first student housing options, a three-phase plan costing $132 million with the first phase expected to be completed by fall 2018. The city council meeting on Feb. 21 will give BC the opportunity to potentially purchase the road from the city in order to prepare it for the first phase of construction.
The road in discussion is a cul-de-sac in the residential area near the garage. The college has previously purchased all the land surrounding the street, and to legally start building on the road, the college will ask the city to vacate the land, or “sell it to us,” according to the Vice President of Administrative Services Ray White. To obtain ownership of the road, BC hopes the city will consider waiving the compensation for vacating the road, which is valued between $750,000 and $825,000, according to an article by the Bellevue Reporter.
In exchange for the waiver, BC will propose a construction of a bike path through campus. The city can approve a waiver if the suggested alternative will be advantageous for the public. “It’s an abandoned section of a residential street maybe 50 yards long – no traffic, not a pedestrian or bike path. I don’t foresee any community impact,” said White about the road vacation.
By vacating this road, BC will begin to install utilities for the new building, which is still on target for opening on fall 2018. There have, however, been some value engineering with the first phase of housing. Value engineering is a process where the initial plans for construction are redesigned or reduced to increase efficiency for the building.
“Our focus now is on minimizing delays. It is critical that we open for business fall 2018 since student who have paid their rent will be waiting to move in,” said White. Rent is expected to be between $800 to $1,000, comparable to the price for housing at other schools in Seattle.
“Huge efforts are also being undertaken now to prepare to meet all the other 24/7 demands that residential life on campus will bring,” explained White. These residential needs are food services, public safety, cleaning and maintenance and weekend services.
Although BC hopes their proposal at the city council will be a success, a few members of the surrounding community do have reservations. According to the Bellevue Reporter which spoke with Betsi Hummer, a resident of the Sunset Ranch neighborhood, Hummer was concerned about the lack of transparency of the vacation. She recommends the council to reject BC’s proposal.
Councilmember Jennifer Robertson believes the local residents must be surveyed before further action is implemented.
The construction area has already been fenced off and community members will be safe as long as they are outside of the fences, according to White.