Space at a transit center in the heart of a growing downtown should be at a premium. Strangely, The Bellevue Transit Center has a 2,100 square foot building taking up useless space. Here’s why I think it should be repurposed, and I’d love to see some ideas on what could happen instead.
First, a bit about what is there: the Bellevue Transit Center has 12 bays, 23 bus lines, and thousands of passengers every day. It also has the Bellevue Rider Services Building which SoundTransit described in 2008 as
…adjacent to the Bellevue Transit Center. Several rider amenities are available including transit schedules and other rider information, public phones, community information, bike racks and public restrooms. The building also houses a station for the Bellevue City Police.
The majority of the stations users are workers in the core of Bellevue. They are extremely likely to have access to transit schedules via computer or smartphone. They are also unlikely to need a public phone (wait, there are still public phones?), or access to paper community information. There are no bike racks in the building (though there are *many* in the nearby area), and the police station closed 3 years ago. In addition, just a few feet away is a small building attached to the transit center that housed a ticket office at one point. Now, it is a very expensive and big map holder so you can find your bus in the 12 bays of the transit center.
Before going forward, you have to wonder what SoundTransit and the city of Bellevue were thinking here. In 2006, payphones had all but gone the way of the dodo bird, and the city of Bellevue’s headquarters is two blocks away — why would they need a station so close by? The public restrooms are a nice item to have, but I’m frankly surprised they have lasted – Seattle’s experiment with public restrooms didn’t go as well. Overall, it seems like the building you would want in 1985, not in 2006 and certainly not in 2014.
Moving forward, that leaves a $3.5 million dollar 2,100 square foot built in 2006 sitting mostly empty. What would you do with this building and the accompanying former ticket office?