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New Development Explored on the Bellevue Riverfront

Port Bellevue may soon be the site of a newly planned redevelopment.

The City of Bellevue has created a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Brandicorp, LLC to explore possibilities for the riverfront site that is currently home to restaurants Buckhead, Joe's Crab Shack, a Red Bike station. It is adjacent to a parcel owned by Brandicorp and is the location of the company's offices, which sit atop the building that houses Burger King.

"If you think about what we're trying to do, the ultimate goal is to increase the development in an underutilized area," said Bellevue City Administrator Keith Spoelker. While the restaurants are popular riverfront stops, the property is primarily a surface parking lot and a valuable piece of real estate. Port Bellevue is owned by the city which leases the pads to the restaurants. "So, what is the highest and best use that drives people to the city?"

The answer to that question is not known. The city and Brandicorp are exploring their options, Spoelker said. Brandicorp officials did not return a call last month or this week seeking comment.

According to the MOU, Brandicorp has indicated that the project promotes the goals of attracting new businesses, expanding retail and residential offerings, and attracting new demographics to the city to create a sustainable tax base while creating additional opportunities for growth for the existing tenants on the site.

Spoelker said that Buckhead and Joe's Crab Shack have been engaged in the process and that each tenant has expressed a desire to remain there.

In February, Bellevue City Council left its regular business meeting to engage in an executive session to discuss the potential project. Council reconvened and voted unanimously, 4-0 (with Councilmen Steve Guidugli abstaining and Matt Olliges not present), to enter into the agreement. 

The MOU is in effect for 90 days with the option for renewal for two additional 90-day periods at the City of Bellevue's discretion.

The exploration of new possibilities for Port Bellevue comes at a time when the future of another prominent piece of riverfront property in the city remains uncertain.

The city remains embroiled in a lawsuit with the Ackermann Group, developer of Harbour Green, the upscale condo tower near Port Bellevue. Ackermann, following the collapse of the condo market, had changed its original plan to construct a second condo tower to offer instead an apartment community with retail components. The density of the proposal was criticized by city boards and the condo homeowners association. 

Resolution may be nearer now than it was when the lawsuit was announced more than a year ago. "We are still actively pursuing discovery and moving in a direction that the city looks forward, too," Spoelker said.

Other development opportunities could follow, something that could help boost the city's celebrated Fairfield Avenue business district. "We're talking about doing a (tax increment financing) TIF district. We are working on development plans now and from that comes a public hearing, an ordinance, and final passage," Spoelker said. 

In Northern Kentucky, Brandicorp is known for its suburban projects like Houston Road Shoppes in Florence, Valley View Shoppes in Ft. Wright, and Shoppes of Burlington.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: Port Bellevue (RCN)

Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Brandicorp headquarters sit near Buckhead and above Burger King