Say NO to Newport Hills Shopping Center Rezone
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Toll Brothers' request to rezone the Newport Hills Shopping Center and replace it with a huge amount of housing and a token amount of retail is wrong. The proposed rezone would circumvent Bellevue's normal planning process to provide a windfall to the current owner of the shopping center and to Toll Brothers at the expense of the surrounding community.
Click the “sign this petition” button to the right to let the City of Bellevue know you strongly oppose Toll’s rezone application.
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Toll Brothers proposes that Bellevue rezone the Newport Hills Shopping Center so that Toll can build and sell at least 130 "luxury" townhomes and condo apartments on the site. This would replace the "public square" at the heart of the long-established Newport Hills neighborhood with infill housing and reduce the retail space to as little as 13,000 square feet (less than one-quarter of the current 60,000 square feet – or about half the old “Red Apple Market” space). Destroying the heart of the neighborhood would be bad enough, but the proposed development would also have major negative long-term effects on traffic congestion and school overcrowding.
Contrary to Toll's assertion, the Newport Hills Shopping Center is not obsolete and has not been "unable to adapt to changing market trends and demands." At present the shopping center is tenanted by a lively, family-oriented mix of restaurants, recreation and service businesses, despite its aging buildings and infrastructure.
Toll Brothers' application asserts it's necessary to upzone the shopping center parcel to Neighborhood Mixed Use (NMU) because the center cannot be revitalized under the existing Neighborhood Business (NB) zoning. Toll claims the existing zoning isn't "flexible" enough to allow successful redevelopment with a mix of residential and commercial uses. This claim isn't justified - NB zoning already permits approximately 85-88 units of housing to be built on the site, over ground-level retail. The key to Toll's request is that, unlike NB zoning, NMU zoning would allow the city to waive much of the requirement for retail/commercial space. Toll is a housing developer, so their incentive is to maximize the housing they can build and sell on the site; and the incentive for the current owner of the shopping center is simply to get the highest price they can for the property. It is not Newport Hills' obligation to ensure the center owner and developer achieve maximum profit at the expense of our wonderful neighborhood.
The shopping center property is the geographic and emotional heart of the Newport Hills neighborhood. The proposed zoning change would allow Toll to replace the shopping center with a dense housing development containing a small amount of retail. This change would fundamentally alter the character of both the specific property and the neighborhood as a whole; therefore the City should not even consider this zoning change outside the City's own Neighborhood Area Planning process required under the Growth Management Act.
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