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Bellevue Takes Step to Develop Empty Riverfront Space

This story has been updated to clarify that the City of Bellevue intends to purchase the site for $2.9 million and that $500,000 has already been put down on the purchase.

Now that the City of Bellevue and the Ackermann Group have settled their litigation, an empty piece of riverfront property may be developed at long last.

On Wednesday, Bellevue City Council heard a first reading of an ordinance that would issue up to $2.5 million in general obligation public project bonds to purchase the property from Dobbs Ackermann, developer of the unfinished Harbor Greene project. Though one tower of luxury condos went up, development on the riverfront site - along Kentucky Route 8 - the downturn in the economy slowed progress there, and the project ultimately stalled. Ackermann's proposal to put apartments on the site instead was rejected by city boards and opposed by condo residents. 

The issue landed the city and the developer in court.

If approved at a special meeting, called for Monday at 7 p.m. at the Callahan Center, the millions in bonds would put all that behind the city, though.

City Administrator Keith Spoelker said that the plan is to purchase the property from Ackermann for $2.9 million, and then to sell it to a developer. The site, he said, is appraised at $3.4 million. The city has already put down $500,000 on the purchase, Spoelker said.

So, what will go there?

That part is unclear, but the public was to get its first glimpse of a possible vision on Tuesday. Jeff Sackenheim of SHP, a design firm with an office in Bellevue, and Joe Nickol of MKSK, a design firm with an office in Covington, were to give a presentation to the Bellevue Urban Renewal Community Development Agency (BURCDA), but there was a lack of quorum, so the meeting and presentation were scrapped.

Spoelker said that the city is in the beginning of its visioning process for the former Harbor Greene site, and wants to know what its options could be before the city formally seeks requests for qualifications (RFQ) from prospective developers later in the year. Sackenheim and Nickol were enlisted to help with that process, and the BURCDA meeting will be rescheduled soon, he said.

Though The River City News has not seen the presentation, a reporter was present for Tuesday's canceled meeting and learned that it included plans for a 12-week program with eight public meetings. With the delay at BURCDA, the plan is likely to be shortened, RCN learned, to be roughly eight weeks, with around six public meetings. 

The process would likely be similar to the one undertook by the City of Bellevue after it purchased the historic Marianne Theater which ultimately found a developer after a community-inclusive process.

The special meeting of city council on Monday night is to formally adopt the resolution issuing the bonds. A new date for the BURCDA meeting has not been set, but organizers hope to announce that soon.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Image via PDS