Bellevue, Washington

The City of Bellevue, population of 148,164 (2019), is located between Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish, just east of downtown Seattle. In 2009, Bellevue adopted new zoning regulations for a 900-acre portion of the City called the Bel-Red Corridor lying east of Interstate 405 and south of State Route 520. The City wants to transform this area from light-industrial uses to mixed-use neighborhoods that offer residents a walkable community with affordable housing, parks, restored streams, and bicycling paths as well as light-rail service scheduled to begin in 2021. In addition, Bellevue wants new development in this area to help protect rural areas under the jurisdiction of King County that benefits Bel-Red and Bellevue as a whole including forests in the Mountains-to-Sound Greenway, farmland in the Snoqualmie Valley that serve Bellevue’s farmers markets, and the White River watershed, which supplies Bellevue’s drinking water. Consequently, the Bel-Red ordinance includes provisions for an inter-jurisdictional TDR mechanism.

The transfer provisions are addressed in an interlocal agreement between Bellevue and King County in which the County pledges $750,000 to buy a significant 1.3-acre property on Kelsey Creek in the heart of Bel-Red which is now used as a parking lot. This land will be restored for park use and the creek will be changed from a concrete-lined ditch to a natural stream bed to improve water quality in Lake Washington.  In return, Bellevue agrees to accept 75 development rights representing the preservation of from 3,000 to 6,000 acres of land under County jurisdiction.   

For each credit transferred from sending areas in the County, developers in Be-Red will be able to build an additional 1,333 square feet of floor area or roughly one residential unit. Bonus floor area is obtained via a FAR Amenity System in five of Bel-Red’s eight land use districts. In addition to TDR, the FAR Amenity System grants bonus density for affordable housing, park dedication, park improvements, trail dedications/easements, stream restoration, and childcare/non-profit floor area. The FAR Amenity System allows density to go from base FAR 1.0 to maximum FAR 2.0 in two land use districts and from base FAR 1.0 to maximum FAR 4.0 in three other land use districts. Given the cap of 75 transferred credits, the program will allow an additional 100,000 square feet of bonus floor area in total.