The Eastside’s consistent population and job growth make it hard to justify the term “revival,” but the area’s current transformation certainly will impact the viability of continued, sustainable advancement.

A big portion of the transformation is the East Link Transit Extension: a 14-mile, 10-station light rail section projected to be completed in 2023, connecting Seattle’s International District with Mercer Island; urban sites throughout Bellevue; and, eventually in 2024, up through downtown Redmond.

Emil King

Emil King, assistant director of Bellevue’s planning department, said this project is a constant consideration when preparing for the future of the region.

“The identified need for high-capacity transit has been around frankly for as long as I’ve been with the city, which has been 20 years,” King said. “It’s a critical part about how we think about planning and growth in Bellevue. If you look at our growth corridor that includes Bel-Red, and downtown, and Wilburton, and extends out to the Overlake area of Redmond — it’s basically around the light rail stations. So it’s a significant framing piece for how we even think about urban growth in the city.”

Although the light rail won’t be carrying commuters for a few more years, developers are capitalizing on the growth potential the improved transportation system promises.

The Bellevue East Main Light Rail Station, located at the intersection of 112th Avenue Southeast and Main Street, perfectly illustrates the potential for the Eastside’s new normal. Two major transit-oriented developments (TOD), high-density, mixed-use structures within a half-mile of and oriented toward optimizing transit use, have been announced adjacent to the station.

The first TOD slated to break ground is a mixed-use development by PMF Investments, a Bellevue-based developer, owner, and manager of commercial real estate properties.

PMF recently announced that it has submitted its administrative design review and master development plan permit applications for a new development project across from the future East Main Station.

The 4.8-acre site is expected to include a nearly 2-acre enhanced pedestrian plaza, more than 1 million square feet of office space, more than 45,000 square feet of retail space, and 145 multifamily units.

“In a few short years, the East Main Station area will be completely transformed into an exciting place to live and work across from Bellevue’s new light rail transit station.”

“We’re moving quickly and excited to bring new high-rise office, retail, and multifamily to Bellevue as the gateway project for the East Main Station,” stated Brian Franklin, president of PMF Investments. “In a few short years, the East Main Station area will be completely transformed into an exciting place to live and work across from Bellevue’s new light rail transit station.”

The project is tentatively scheduled to break ground in early 2021, with completion slated for 2023.

The second TOD will follow shortly: Broadstone Bellevue Gateway, a three-building residential development located on the opposite side of 112th Avenue Northeast, is scheduled to begin construction in July 2021 and is projected to be completed at the end of 2023.

Broadstone Bellevue Gateway, by US Alliance Gateway, LLC, also has recently submitted its design and master development plan for the city to review. The plan details the project’s intent to construct 147 market-rate assisted living units in a 22-story high-rise building and 189 market-rate multifamily units in two seven-story buildings. In addition to the residential area, around 7,000 square feet of commercial space will run along the streetfront along with a 6,000-square-foot outdoor plaza.

Both projects will contribute to an almost-futuristic urban neighborhood, commercial and residential opportunities, retail space, food service, recreational areas, and more within walking distance to the light rail. The vision for the East Main Station is a thriving area with opportunities for people to live, work, and shop, without ever getting into a car.

But the vision doesn’t stop there: East Main, with two massive development plans under review, is only one of six other stations in Bellevue and, one of 10 along the entirety of the East Link Light Rail. Each of these transit stations has the capacity to have significant TOD potential, advancing the Eastside into a new caliber of livability.