Kevin Wallace Responds

Kevin Wallace (Wallace Properties)

Kevin Wallace (Wallace Properties)

We wanted to give Kevin Wallace a chance to address the many concerns that you had with his recent Vision Line proposal and to defend the premise behind his idea.  I had the opportunity to bring forth some of the questions that arose during our open question thread and hear more about Wallace’s reasoning for picking the controversial alignment.  Prior to asking him your specific questions, he briefed me on why he developed the Vision Line the way he did.

Wallace has four basic premises behind the proposal:

  • The minimization of impacts on homes, businesses, and roads.
  • An alignment within Sound Transit’s budget.
  • Rail that will enhance the city’s multi-modal transportation system and preserve city roads.
  • A system that provides potential for [transit-oriented] development.

More below the jump.

One of the major concerns that transit supporters have had with the line is the placement of its main station and the low ridership it would attract.  To make a comparison of ridership, capital costs, and cost effectiveness, Wallace constructed estimates for the Vision Line by using DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) numbers for the B7 alignment and the C7E downtown alignment (which would have followed the most comparable route).  While we cannot assert the complete validity of the estimates, he believes that this is the best comparison of the data.  Here are his numbers*:

  • Estimated ridership for East Link using the Vision Line would attract about 42,500 daily boardings, as opposed to 45,000 for C4A, 45,500 for C9T, and 47,500 for C3T (see inset below [C9T not included]).
  • Projected costs for the B and C segments combined would be $1,060M for the Vision Line, $1,220M for C4A, $1,550M for C9T, and $1,720M for C3T.

*Vision Line estimates not official data from Sound Transit.

DEIS Alternatives from Sound Transit

DEIS Alternatives from Sound Transit (click to enlarge)

It appears that while ridership and expenses are indeed lower for the Vision Line, Wallace argues that cost-effectiveness (capital costs/ridership)  is a better metric of which alignment should be chosen.  He further iterated the need to provide potential for development around the station and the necessity of “multi-modal connections” (many of which are already served by the existing Bellevue Transit Center).  Bear in mind that Arup, the engineering consulting firm that studied the Vision Line’s feasibility, has not done ridership analysis as of yet.

When asked about the tunnel options, Wallace firmly expressed his opposition to the city’s responsibility of paying for the extra costs, including any tax package as a financing method.  He railed against increasing the city’s taxes in addition to the RTA sales tax increase for ST2 earlier this year, and cited the city’s “$100 million budget deficit” as a deterrent for a costlier tunnel.

Here are some of the questions you asked regarding his proposal.

1. How can you justify the fact that the Vision Line will not garner as respectable a ridership as other alternatives?

  • Wallace admitted that the Vision Line ridership will be lower than other DEIS alternatives, but is a firm believer that long-term TOD will negate any ridership differentials between the other alignments.  He advocates expanding the downtown area east to include what is currently auto-row and believes that future upzoning and development will bring riders to the line.  Wallace also believes that the Vision Line’s cheaper price tag is a benefit that outweighs the lower ridership.

2. The main station is incredibly far from the downtown core.  Why?

  • Wallace says that access to the downtown core will be facilitated by a covered walkway along NE 6th Street complete with moving sidewalks.  He believes that the walkway will help enhance the pedestrian corridor that currently runs from the Bellevue Transit Center to Bellevue Way.  Connections elsewhere will be further fostered by bus bays beneath the station and a potential downtown circulator shuttle service.  Wallace also hinted that he would support moving the transit hub from the existing transit center to the main Vision station.

3. Mayor Grant Degginger expressed concerns over the cost of your covered walkway.  How do you address the potential expenses?

  • Wallace admitted that the costs for the walkway were in a bit of a gray area and was unsure how the expenses would stack up.

4. Who makes up the Vision Line Coalition?

  • The Vision Line Coalition is a small group of property owners (many of whom have a stake along the proposed alignment[s]), downtown business interests, and Surrey Downs/South Bellevue residents.  Wallace did not iterate specifically if business owners with a notorious passion against rail were also members of the coalition.

5. The Bellevue City Council unanimously ruled out an elevated alignment.  How does the Vision Line not contradict those wishes?

  • Wallace believes that an elevated guideway will work because its close proximity to I-405 will aesthetically compliment the expressway.  He asserted that since the alignment is far enough out of the downtown core, the elevated portion will not induce any of the impacts that the council was initially concerned about.

6. The Vision Line still seems unnecessarily tall.

  • In addition to his belief that the tall elevated segment would pair well with I-405, Wallace asserted that the main Vision station’s height would allow for the walkway to the Bellevue Transit Center to be level, as opposed to a hill climb for shorter station.

7. The B7 alignment will skip over the South Bellevue Park and Ride.  Why would it be prudent to deny South Bellevue and Factoria residents access to rail?

  • Wallace had three reasons behind his support of B7, all of which we are familiar with.  He believes that the South Bellevue Park and Ride offers no TOD potential, while a Wilburton P&R offers more access to commercial properties and sites that could be developed.  Secondly, to affirm the “protection of homes” mantra, Wallace believes that running trains right along neighborhoods like Enatai, Ashwood, and Surrey Downs would be a blight to the suburban character of the communities.  Lastly, he believes that it would be easier to add an Eastgate spur to B7 than it would be for any Bellevue Way alignment, and would have less environmental impacts on Mercer Slough.  Wallace also iterated that such a spur could also provide for a Factoria Station, something not possible with B3.

8. So what’s wrong with an at-grade alignment?  It works out for cities like Portland and Minneapolis.

  • Wallace is a firm believer in protecting our roads network as a necessity to the “commerce” in the city.  He argued that “Bellevue’s road network just cannot accommodate a light rail system” since it would cause “huge problems to the traffic grid.”  He also disputed the assumption that at-grade works “well” in other cities and its feasibility here, particularly with the wider roads and superblocks in Bellevue.

9. The Vision Line main station is in close proximity to properties managed by your companies.  How could you argue that this isn’t something you would personally stand to gain from?

  • Wallace believes the Vision Line offers no real benefit to his company because the properties closest to the line wouldn’t have attracted transit riders to begin with.  He argued that a 110th Ave NE alignment would have been of greater benefit.  Wallace also wanted to give the reminder that his own offices will have to endure the construction impacts if the Vision Line were to be constructed.

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks to STB for this exchange. In my mind, this is sort of the best of what the internet enables in the so-called Web 2.0 era; it makes someone whose ideas we might disagree with far more accessible to us in a way that TV or print news never did. I wanted to go even a step further and thank Wallace for putting some real thought into this as his answers do reveal an idea attending to the values he asserts would be served by the line. Even if I disagree with those values or think they’re overvalued in his idea.

    But then I read his answer to question #8 and it made me wonder all over again whether he has any idea what he’s even talking about? He “disputed that at-grade works well in other cities…” with reference to Portland? Really? There’s huge WTF? in that answer, based on my observations and time spent in Portland. As I wrote in the comments trhread to an older post, Bellevue’s big street and huge blocks make it an even *better* candidate for surface alignments than Portland. And it works *perfectly* in Portland.

    One thing that he might have right, that would indeed be an ironnic but fitting result of the Vision alignment is that by sliding TOD away from downtown, the value of downtown properties will decline and become marginal over the long term as downtown development slides eastward away from the core and over to the LRT alignment. While at the same time, the price of driving SOV attracts more people to LRT for transportation in the region.

  2. Transit Guy says

    Surface LRT works “perfectly” in downtown Portland????? It is exactly 2.3 miles from the MAX station at Lloyd Center to the Goose Hollow entrance to the west side tunnel, and the scheduled running time for that 2.3 miles is 23 minutes. Do the math….

    • says

      It’s always a trade: capital costs (money and disruption) for a tunnel with shorter travel times, vs lower initial costs at the price of speed.

    • Anandakos says

      Transit Guy,

      Yep, I agree. Max needs a tunnel for the Red and Blue lines. It reduces congestion on the Steel Bridge, giving the Green and Yellow lines the opportunity for increased service and because of the grade on the east side would have to take a belly out to the northwest so there could be a station between Union Depot and the Pearl district and a north/south axis through downtown. It would give much better coverage for the trunk line.

      The existing at grade east-west ROW can have streetcar service between Goose Hollow and Lloyd Center and game day Max specials to the ball park.

      I fully realize this would be mega bucks. Maybe use the CRC money for it?

    • AJ says

      Most folks aren’t going completely through downtown. Every morning I rode a packed Red or Blue into town, it emptied like clockwork at Galleria, Pioneer Square and Mall/SW 5th before filling again for passengers continuing on.

      I would transfer to a Yellow at Galleria and it typically would not have its average load until Skidmore.

      • Anandakos says

        AJ,

        No, most folks commuting through downtown aren’t riding Max because it takes so long. They’re driving around if they live on one side and work on the other. How many of those folks are there? I honestly don’t know but I’m sure that the Tri-Met planners do. It would be good to know.

        The problem that Portland faces is that the trunk lines through the West Hills and along the Banfield can both carry more trains than at present, so there’s the potential for growth in the future. But the Steel Bridge simply can’t. Sure, it might take a half dozen trains per hour more in the peak four hours, but that’s just one train per ten minutes total.

        Portland may not grow any more; there is no “next big thing” in business there and Intel is wavering in its commitment. Nike employment is shrinking as they globalize decision making more. So maybe the Steel Bridge is sufficient for the future.

        But if the city grows, it will have to separate the four lines crossing the Willamette some way, and the best way is to dig a tunnel from just east of the Rose Quarter TC diagonally down and around the Rose Garden to just south of the Broadway Bridge, across the river to a station just west of the Post Office to serve the Pearl, then back a bit southeast to just east of the US Bank tower, under Pioneer Square, the government center under the old park, PSU and then back a bit northwest to Goose Hollow. Max Red and Blue lines would serve the entire downtown from two fewer stations than at present with more rapid running. The stations could be longer in order to accommodate three car trains if the other stations (particularly Sunset TC) could be extended also. That may not be possible for Sunset, shoehorned in as it is.

      • AJ says

        Metro yanked Corridor 50 from their main HCT plan, so it won’t be a reality until sometime beyond 2030.

        But what do they know?

  3. Eastsider says

    Nothing Kevin said makes the Vision Line proposal attractive. The notion that the transit center could move below the Vision line station near 114th NE is truly scary – it would effectively move all transit outside of downtown Bellevue.

    Circulator bus routes have a terrible track record. They are expensive to operate. They generally are not frequent enough. Every rider has to make a transfer to reach their real destination. Around downtown Bellevue they will be unreliable because traffic is so variable.

    The main EastLink station and the transit center need to be within a reasonable walking distance/time of the major destinations in downtown Bellevue. The current BTC location is a reasonable compromise for that, with most of Bellevue within 6 blocks, and the pedestrian corridor to boot. A station at 114th would be a joke in comparison.

    I am beginning to think a surface route on 108th that turns at NE 6th and stops at the BTC may be the best route.

    • alexjonlin says

      Yeah out of the options that don’t require any extra money from Bellevue, C11A (the 108th-6th at-grade option) is looking the best to me.

  4. Bernie says

    Projected costs would be $1,060M for the Vision Line, $1,220M for C4A, $1,550M for C9T, and $1,720M for C3T.

    Where did these numbers come from? Are they year of expenditure dollars? The last ST presentation I went to my notes have the cost estimates at $700M for C4A, $980-1,010M for C9T and $1,175M for C3T; all in 2007 dollars. Assuming year of expenditure then the estimate for the Vision Line would be comparable to the DEIS savings for using C7E (112th NE Elevated). But once you start adding in the much taller structure, the moving sidewalk and relocating transit coupled with a loss in system ridership it seems unlikely enough cost savings could survive to make this a winner.

    In the DEIS 112th Elevated showed a drop of 1,000 daily segment boardings but daily system ridership was the same as the C4A at grade couplet. For the sake of discussion assume the estimated drop in daily system ridership is accurate it would mean at least 2,500 fewer boardings in segment C. It would appear the bulk of the lost ridership would be at the main downtown station. That’s a huge loss in transit share and likely to have a greater negative impact on traffic than an at grade alignment.

    long-term TOD will negate any ridership differentials between the other alignments. He advocates expanding the downtown area east to include what is currently auto-row and believes that future upzoning and development will bring riders to the line.

    I think this statement was meant to imply that moving the downtown station east would facilitate this but those riders are going to board at the Hospital Station or South Main. System wide the ridership differential may become a smaller percentage of the total but it’s still the same net negative and it all manifests in the downtown core; the very place where increased transit use is of greatest value.

    • Martin H. Duke says

      Bernie,

      As the post indicates, the estimated costs are rolling segment B and C together.

      I spent a good part of the morning trying to scrutinize the DEIS ridership estimates but it’s a fool’s errand. The segment boardings are one thing, but every time you change a segment the overall line ridership changes differently because you’ve affected travel times and pushed riders out to other segments.

      For instance, going B3 to B7 costs you 3,000 boardings there, the equivalent of 6,000 riders, but overall line ridership drops by “only” 2K. Why? I’m guessing it’s because some people that would have preferred to use S. Bellevue are forced to go to Mercer Island or somewhere in DT Bellevue.

      The DEIS leads me to believe C7E vs. C4A is a wash ridership wise: I’ll speculate the added distance from DT is balanced by higher speeds, which helps out travel to/from Bel-Red and Overlake headed to Seattle. Obviously, though, the Wallace proposal ain’t C7E.

      • Bernie says

        Ah, got it. I get an F for reading comprehension. So if you back out the DEIS cost for B7 the Vision Line estimate is $550M which is smack dab in the middle of the cost estimate range for C7E (112th Elevated). I guess that’s a good starting point but as you say, “the Wallace proposal ain’t C7E.” I think the elevated portion would be shorter, right of way acquisition and mitigation costs could be less but the elevated portion is much taller and to work at all requires other fairly significant mitigation costs to overcome being farther from the transit center.

        I spent a good part of the morning trying to scrutinize the DEIS ridership estimates but it’s a fool’s errand.

        Yeah, it’s impossible to “cut & paste” segment ridership and come up with system ridership. But using the supplied ridership estimate I’m only coming up with about a 25 cent difference between the annualized cost per rider per trip for C4A at grade vs the Vision Line. If C9A comes in even a little cheaper than C4A (which I expect it would) the economics shift to at grade having better ridership and lower cost. It seems that in annualizing capital costs on a per rider basis the farebox revenue is left out? I guess I need to go brush up on in Chapter 2, Section 2.6 of the Draft EIS where costs are presented and discussed in detail.

      • Martin H. Duke says

        I think C7E is cheap because it’s a straight shot out of the B3 alignment. I’m not sure Wallace would avoid the twists and turns and remain as cheap.

        The other wild card is this people mover thing which will be a big cost increase and do God knows what to ridership.

        I agree that the C alignments turn out to be a wash in terms of cost per rider under DEIS assumptions. However, B3 basically costs the same as B7 and has 2K more system ridership; my contention is that you’d also have fewer people being diverted way out of their way out to Mercer Island or DT Bellevue on a bus, which really doesn’t show up in this analysis but is important.

      • Cindy says

        Sound Transit has also admitted that the ridership number in the DEIS are flawed. They agreed to restudy the numbers. The problem is that ST looks at the alignment numbers individually. when the entire system is looked at as a whole, the numbers are musch, much different.

      • ericn says

        No, Sound Transit includes both segment and total East Link ridership totals for each alternative in the DEIS. If you’re having trouble finding them, look at pages 18 and 19 of the East Link DEIS executive summary. Also, I’d like to see a link to Sound Transit’s ‘admission’ of flawed ridership numbers.

  5. Mark Dublin says

    Considering Bellevue positions on transit not so long ago, I don’t think we want to underestimate how big a change it indicates that someone like Mr. Wallace is talking about transit in a positive connection with development at all.

    And not even saying “Communism” or “social engineering” once.

    Depending on what gasoline costs when we come out of current Depression, there could be a lot less pressure for automobile space on the streets of Bellevue. Whoever owns Bellevue Square in twenty years might be glad to have a local streetcar line in addition to fast regional line along 405.

    Next interview, let’s propose this: We’ll back the Vision Line as soon as the vision includes both local streetcars and a huge park lidding 405 from Wilburton to 520. Or an attractive, park-like pedestrian business district extending Downtown Bellevue eastward.

    More than one side can talk development here.

    • alexjonlin says

      Yeah, that’d be the only case in which I might be happy with this…

      I like how he says it minimizes “impacts on homes, businesses, and roads.” I guess he means the bad impacts, and the good.

      • Martin H. Duke says

        Alex,

        I think that’s really the point with people trying to stop B3 and an alignment through downtown. If you think light rail is an important amenity, you suck it up and eat the traffic and noise impacts.

        If you think it’s a waste of money ridden only by people you don’t know, you try to get it as far away from you as possible.

    • Cindy says

      Actually Martin, all those parklike thoughts were discussed in the development of The Vision Line. Let’s do remember that one of Kevin Wallace’s requrements is to stay inside of the Sound Transit budget for the project. Not even Sound Transit does that.

  6. Kevin says

    (1) “Vision Line is a system that provides potential for [transit-oriented] development.”

    (2) “Wallace believes the Vision Line offers no real benefit to his company because the properties closest to the line wouldn’t have attracted transit riders to begin with.”

    Is it me or his two points above completely contradict with each other? Developers will not benefit from new (transit-oriented) development… Wow that’s news!

    I think he stands to gain at least 10 million dollars (judging by the area size and location) if his proposal goes through.

    • Matt the Engineer says

      (considers buying land even further east and proposing the “Amazing Spectacular Vision Line”, complete with not just a circus tent but also an actual roller coaster to get to downtown)

      • Cindy says

        Calling yourself “Matt the Engineer” doesn’t give you any more credibility than anyone else commenting on this opinion journal. Cindy the Downtown Resident

      • Kevin says

        Cindy, based on your numerous but unfortunately weak posts defending Kevin Wallace, I highly doubt you have the Bellevue downtown residents’ interests in mind.

        No one living in downtown condos will use the Vision Line, if you have the faintest ideas where the condos & apartments are.

        Care to tell me where you live? And which group of residents living where will use the Vision Line?

        I will not be surprised if [deleted, ad-hominem]

    • Sherwin Lee says

      To be fair to him, his properties closest to the main station are just leasable office space, not retail. The bigger contradiction is the “protection of roads” disposition.

    • Johnny Medina says

      You assumption only works if he is the outright owner of the property. As I understand it WP are leasing agents for the properties. The VL station would attract food vendors, shops, parking, taxi’s, etc and development for products or services that would be attractive to transit riders. WP doesn’t have any of those, unless they wanted to shell out 50mln for a new building.

      I think Mr. Wallace is more interested in the depreciating value of Bellevue as a whole if the surface/tunnel alignment is selected. It makes more sense to keep the disruption of the train construction on the edge of the downtown corridor.

      It makes sense for Bellevue. Anywhere else in the 206/425 area ,you would want to be able to have a train run right through the middle of the city center, but since the city center has already been planned for years without any consideration for rail, any attempt to shoehorn a tunnel/surface option would end up ruining the “charm” of the mega-consumption-plex that exists from Medina to Autorow. IMHO it would be like putting a subway station in the middle of rodeo drive.

      • Chris Stefan says

        IMHO it would be like putting a subway station in the middle of rodeo drive.

        Funny you should mention that. While it isn’t quite on Rodeo Drive, there is a subway station planned for the intersection of Wilshire and Beverly.

        While I’d like to see one of the tunnel options chosen, I think a surface option on 108th and/or 110th can be made to work, especially one that doesn’t cross NE 8th at-grade.

    • Aleks says

      That’s not all!

      “He asserted that since the alignment is far enough out of the downtown core, the elevated portion will not induce any of the impacts that the council was initially concerned about.”

      If it’s far enough for the elevated-ness not to be an issue, then it’s too far to be useful.

      • Bernie says

        That doesn’t follow. Moving an elevated line from 112th (C7E) to 114th doesn’t make it useless. The station would be located West of 114th whereas with C7E it would have been east of 112th so they’re in virtually the same spot. I’m not sold on the Vision Line but for a someone who claims to be “one of those North Seattleites who doesn’t really know much about anything south of the ship canal” calling it useless because it “will not induce any of the impacts that the council was initially concerned about” has no quantifiable justification. It makes it sound like the impacts of elevated rail are so universally egregious that it would have to be moved miles away to mitigate them.

    • Cindy says

      Kevin did not say that developers would not benefit, let’s get real. He said that his company would not benefit, there is a big difference. He did say that there is TOD potential in the Wilberton Station area. What property does Wallace own in that area?

  7. Anandakos says

    Spending all that money for taller posts on which to mount the Light Rail Line in order to avoid having a grade in an elevated walkway with moving sidewalks seems like putting the cart before the horse. If one wants to have a level pathway, include a pair of escalators and an elevator to it in the station. Much cheaper.

    This is irrelevant anyway. The Vision Line would have to be that tall to clear the NE 4th and NE 6th over-crossings on the freeway. 114th is at the same level as the freeway and is only two lanes, so unless you take the entire roadway for the trackway, it has to be elevated. If it’s elevated it has to be elevated high enough to clear the overpasses which also overpass 114th.

    It’s really hard to imagine how one could do at-grade on 114th under NE 6th and then gain enough elevation to clear the ramps and the freeway just south of NE 8th. It might be done but it would be a slog out of that station, and that’s probably why the engineers chose super-elevated curves (joke for the railfans…)

    Hence the tall posts.

  8. alexjonlin says

    I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this, but I’m starting to think B7 would be better than B3. In the short term, it will have less ridership, but in the long term, it will be the better choice. B3 gets its ridership from a Park & Ride which proponents on this blog have been not just admitting but boasting gets people from all the way down the I-90 corridor. However, there is no chance that there can ever be any TOD there. Along B7, at the 118th Station or a Wilburton P&R Station, there would be some people coming via car, but there are also several large lots that could support TOD. This, I believe, would result in higher ridership in the long-term for B7, and save some money for a better Downtown Bellevue alignment to boot. Can someone convince me otherwise?

    • Sherwin Lee says

      Save B7 for later when we could get the ridership for B3 now. I told Kevin about this when I met with him. Why not kill two birds with one stone? Serve South Bellevue, and add a spur through the BNSF line later.

      • Cindy says

        It is a matter of perspective. I consider the savings in the use of an already existing resource (B7) and setting the rail line up for the next phase (Issaquah, Newcastle, North Bend, Renton) at the same time to be killing two birds with one stone.

    • Zed says

      B3 can serve the same area between Main and SE 8th as B7 does by moving the East Main station farther south.

      • Bernie says

        Yes! I’m a supporter of B7 but I thought the City Council proposal for B3 Modified was an excellent compromise. Another solution, although not in play would be to turn east at the P&R. No great advantage except perhaps not having to move the Winters House and pushing the noise pollution into the wetlands instead of the residential area above Bellevue Way and along 112th (yes the wetlands would suffer, which means the residents also suffer. No free lunch. Surrey Downs residents may not be frequent transit users but I guess no frogs have Orca cards so maybe wetlands win?). Construction cost would be comparable if they follow the side running alignment that is largely wetlands or wetlands buffer area anyway. Perhaps reduces cost of a spur to Eastgate/Issaquah sometime in the future.

      • Chris Stefan says

        I believe the noise concerns with B3 modified are rather overblown. The rail line will be across a couple of rather busy streets from any residences and for the most part the residential properties are up a slope and set back a bit. There are only a couple of driveway crossings of the rail alignment so there won’t be the level of bell and warning chime noise there is on MLK.

    • says

      Explain to me how passengers south and southeast of I-90 gain access to Link under B7? There is existing service there NOW that has been growing for years. Look at the 560 and 240 – heck even the 222 drops off several people from Factoria each trip. What happens to all that service at South Bellevue P&R when most of the service on the 550 disappears after Link opens?

      • Bernie says

        Access for passengers south and south east of I-90 is a big issue for all East Link alignments. Apparently the ST answer is the first 1,000 or so get to drive to South Bellevue P&R. “Gentleman, start your engines”.

  9. Schroeder says

    How realistic is a tunell through Bellevue? It just seems like the best long term option for the city.

  10. Schroeder says

    How realistic is a tunnel through Bellevue? It just seems like the best long term option for the city.

  11. Keo says

    How about a LID for benefiting property owners and an increase in parking taxes/violations? That should easily collect 300 million. Tunnel and be done with it!

  12. Kyle says

    Part of #9, “Wallace believes the Vision Line offers no real benefit to his company because the properties closest to the line wouldn’t have attracted transit riders to begin with,” is almost offensive. I don’t know what those properties are, but suggesting that they’re too elite for people who choose transit is out-of-touch at the least.

    • Chris Stefan says

      Also very funny considering most of the Wallace properties in Downtown Bellevue are exactly the sort of dingy older low-rise office and retail buildings that are ripe for redevelopment. See the building on the SE corner of NE Northgate Way and 5th Ave NE for an example of where Wallace tore down a crappy strip mall and built a large mixed use building. Why woudn’t they want to do the same with their Bellevue properties at some point?

      • Bernie says

        most of the Wallace properties in Downtown Bellevue are exactly the sort of dingy older low-rise office and retail buildings that are ripe for redevelopment.

        Looking at the County records there seems to be a pattern of the Wallace family buying foreclosure properties. Not surprising that they are as you say “dingy”. This sort of willingness and perhaps we could say “savvy” tells me the family is long term committed to the community. Remember, these foreclosure properties are open to all offers. Who stepped up? Perhaps more interestingly, who made really really bad guesses on how development in Bellevue was going to go forward?? History, those who don’t learn from mistakes are doomed to repeat them. I’m completely comfortable with a guy who’s family is rooted in the community, received his undergraduate degree from SU (don’t consider that my ringing endorsement for Patty Murray) and law degree from Gonzaga representing me on the City Council.

      • Chris Stefan says

        I wasn’t being critical of Wallace Properties or their investment strategy. Just pointing out that I would expect them to redevelop many of their properties at some point.

        Because of that redevelopment potential I have a hard time swallowing council member Wallace’s assertion that he and his family business have nothing to gain (or lose) from one light rail alignment over another.

      • Bernie says

        Kevin Wallace did not run for City Council on the premise that the Wallace family interest has nothing to gain or lose from one alignment over the other. He’s now an elected official which means you always have to qualify your answer, But I think it’s obvious that he ran because the alignment had a huge impact on not only their investments but the interests of all Bellevue residents. Quality of life of all Bellevue residents includes taxes, traffic, accessibility and land use. Anyone with no investment resume wanting to dictate a huge investment in public trasportation through DT Bellevue should be the real cause for concern.

    • Bernie says

      I don’t think it’s meant as elitist. Most of the properties seem to be smaller office space. Small companies have a much higher instance of SOV drivers than large companies.

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