Bellevue grows with the size of buildings across the city | Nice view

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The Silver Creek Hotel on Main Street, just under 26,000 square feet, is one of the few buildings in Bellevue that would approach the size of the new apartment buildings requested by the P&Z.



In an effort to attract larger housing projects, the Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission voted Monday to increase the size of licensed buildings from 28,000 to 36,000 square feet and to streamline the approval process.

Changes to the city’s building code, which would have to be approved by city council, would apply to general residential, commercial and light industrial / mixed business areas.

A last-minute change on Monday included a 10-foot setback requirement and a clause stating that only apartments, churches and schools of this size are allowed in the general residential area. The decision was made to ban the unlikely construction of a hotel-sized house in a residential area.

“My intention from the start has been for this to be used for multi-family dwellings [apartment building] uses, ”Community Development Manager Diane Shay said at the meeting.

No public comments were submitted for the public hearing.

The P&Z also voted to delete in its entirety Chapter 16, which requires conditional use permits for “large-scale development” and includes a long list of criteria to be considered. These considerations would now be addressed in the subsequent design review process.

The city currently allows a maximum building footprint of 28,000 square feet, but only for a construction project that first acquires a conditional use permit through the Large Scale Development Process (LSD).

Shay informed the commission earlier this month that the 28,000 square foot limitation was designed to regulate the development of big box stores.

“The process of acquiring an LSD is extremely cumbersome and has led many developers to look elsewhere for their major projects,” said a note from the community development department.

Shay said if the city annexed new land, a new area would likely be created to accommodate apartment developments, with its own volume requirements.

The P&Z recently approved sweeping city code changes that would allow unlimited housing units per acre in a new basic residential neighborhood, with units as small as 350 square feet. The proposed stacking neighborhood would allow a building height of up to 45 feet and would extend along Main Street between Cedar Street and Chestnut Street, the full length of the original Bellevue townsite.

The city has not indicated whether there are ways to restrict new housing units to long-term rental rather than being used for AirBnB-style short-term rentals. Shay said she didn’t think so and City Attorney Rick Allington could not be reached for comment until press time on Tuesday.


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