Bellevue College Issaquah campus gets a master plan
November 26, 2013
By Peter Clark
Seven buildings and an amphitheater are included in a Bellevue College Issaquah campus master plan.
Bellevue College submitted an aspirational plan to the city in August and the Development Services Department is in the process of a land-use review. It makes use of the 20 acres purchased by the college in 2010 and envisions what the area could look like when fully built.
“It’s a nice looking plan,” city Development Services Department Project Oversight Manager Christopher Wright said. “We’re in the middle of reviewing it, and it should go straight through the Urban Village Development Commission early next year.”
The plan calls for seven four-story buildings, which would offer 427,000 square feet of classrooms, meeting rooms, office and accessory space. Bellevue College expects more than 4,000 students to come from the Issaquah area by 2040 and wants to address the public demand for education by expanding in the highlands. Currently, the main Bellevue campus serves 11,000 full-time students.
“The public comment has generally been, ‘When are you going to get here?’” Ray White, Bellevue College’s vice president of Administrative Services, said. “It’s taken a lot longer than we set out to do. We needed to have more conversation with our faculty and staff.”
Still the submitted plan is more of a sketch of what Bellevue College hopes to bring to Issaquah, provided it can find the demand and the funding. Bellevue College estimates the rate of construction could be one building every two years, with a possible finish 20 to 30 years down the road.
Specific cost estimates vary widely, depending on what the college can raise from donors or potential partners. Wright said the first phase of construction, which includes most of the infrastructure for a further build out, would cost approximately $80 million.
Wright said working with the college has moved along smoothly to fit its long-term goals in Issaquah.
“The review is going well,” Wright said, though he advised patience for the facility to take shape. “We could approve the site development permit and it could be a long time before they build anything.”
White acknowledged the speculative nature of the plan.
“What we submitted it asking, ‘What if we built it out to its maximum?’” White said. “We have an opportunity to do something cool in Issaquah. It would include innovation in teaching and technological learning. We have the opportunity to build the college of the future there.”
Those aspirations line up with Bellevue College’s expansive educational goals for the area. White said the college hopes to bring continued educational programs, a focus on environmental science and cooperation with local high schools in science training.
White said he is aware of traffic and accessibility problems in the highlands. Though such consideration will be handled in future planning, the master plan calls for 1,650 parking spaces in underground and surface level lots.
He also said there is an emphasis on sustainability. Bellevue College does not want to fill the whole parcel with parking lots; the master plan aims to be a part of the scenery and create minimal impact to local scenery. Additionally, it includes rooftop gardens and green terraces.
As long as it took for a plan to come together, White said it would take longer still before the first phase of construction begins.
“We’ll have one or two buildings up in phase one,” he said. “It will probably take about three years, though we will be able to lay most of the infrastructure in that time as well.”
Despite the extended timeline, White said the college is eager to provide education for the area.
“The real reason to move eastward is that is our service district,” White said. “That’s where the population is growing and we need to meet the people where they are.”