On a sunny Saturday morning, nearly 25 urbanists showed up to learn more about how the Wilburton neighborhood will be changing with the opening of East Link light rail. With frequent trains that will connect the neighborhood to Redmond, Seattle, and other cities in our region, Wilburton represents an exciting opportunity for sustainable, transit-oriented development.
However, current land use patterns in the area are unfortunately a far cry from this vision. No fewer than five sprawling car dealerships are present less than a quarter mile from the station. Wide roads like NE 8th St and 116th Ave NE are rather inaccessible to those who are not traveling in a motor vehicle. And with very little housing immediately near the station, it’s hard to imagine people regularly using this station in their day to day lives.
Luckily, the City of Bellevue recognizes the immense opportunity presented by this station and is taking action to prepare the area for frequent transit. City staff envision the neighborhood incorporating over 6,000 housing units (increased from the current 500), with many of those units being affordable. Community work from 2018 envisions roadways being transformed into multimodal boulevards that can accommodate people getting around by walking, biking, rolling, or taking transit. And staff are working on land use codes that would prioritize the development of rich public spaces, tree canopy, affordable commercial spaces, and so much more.
At our event, we shared information and ideas on how Wilburton can become a neighborhood that is vibrant, accessible, and affordable to more people. From creative ideas to public space creation, to talking about how trail investments can connect with surrounding developments, to how & where exactly the city should build more housing in the neighborhood, our group had a rich discussion on the future of our city. And with the Wilburton process just getting started, the conversation is certainly far from being over.
Even if you didn’t join us for the festivities, you can still provide your feedback to help guide the development of the Wilburton neighborhood. It will take all of us to ensure that we end up with a Wilburton that is affordable, equitable, sustainable, and accessible for all who want to be there. To share your thoughts:
- Take the city’s online survey on housing, transportation, parks & open spaces, and more. This should take between 10 – 15 minutes to complete.
- Drop some pins on the city’s interactive map of the Wilburton neighborhood. This maps allows community members to note what they view as the challenges & opportunities for the neighborhood, in the areas of transportation, affordable housing, and more.
- Email your general comments, questions, and recommendations to WilburtonVision@bellevuewa.gov
It’s rare that cities get the chance to create a whole new neighborhood from the ground up. Your voice matters in this conversation, and you can help make sure we create a Wilburton that lives up to Bellevue’s values. Our organization is looking forward to the ongoing discussion and design process, and we hope you’ll join us in creating a better Wilburton for everyone!
All photos credited to Brady Woods