The Grand Connection: Funding Bellevue’s Vision for a ‘City in a Park’

Mobile Workshop

Explore Bellevue’s visionary initiative, “The Grand Connection,” designed to seamlessly link the thriving urban downtown core with its picturesque waterfront along Lake Washington. The Grand Connection is Bellevue’s signature downtown place-making initiative, a series of cohesive, connected, and memorable spaces and pedestrian-focused experiences through the heart of downtown. Bellevue, known as a “City in a park” and Seattle’s upstart “sister city” across Lake Washington, shows how a high-tech hub is creating a 21st-century walkable downtown that connects city office workers and residents to its waterfront through a series of public spaces and iconic parks.
The 1.5-mile-long Grand Connection begins at Meydenbauer Bay Park, Bellevue’s newest beach amenity redesigned in 2019, featuring a terraced set of viewpoints overlooking Lake Washington. We will wind our way through Old Bellevue and Downtown Park, continuing through the city’s dynamic retail and civic-focused parts of downtown while also hearing about future plans for a lid park over Interstate 405 that will extend the Grand Connection to its terminal point at Eastrail in the Wilburton commercial area.
The full Grand Connection project, a core priority for city leadership, will rely on a combination of public capital projects, private redevelopment projects, and ultimately unifying operations and management along the route. As with many major metropolitan areas, recent inflation concerns and widening budget gaps present a looming challenge for the project. Learn about how the city has dealt with this and continues strategizing for ongoing sustainability.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  • Outline large-scale urban design visioning initiatives, reviewing how a shared vision can be successfully implemented and maintained.
  • Identify strategies to maintain community and political support for implementing a shared vision over an extended period.
  • Discuss the value of fostering public-private partnerships in supporting and funding civic priorities.
  • Discuss challenges such as inflation concerns and budget gaps in large-scale urban projects, gaining insights into strategies for ongoing sustainability and effective project management.