The Bellevue Downtown Association announced their 2012 Place Maker awards on Thursday at their 39th Annual Celebration. The awards go to people and organizations that contributed to making Downtown Bellevue a great place to live work and play.
Arts Champion: Mary Pat Byrne
Arts are an important piece of community building and vital for attracting people to our city. In her role of more than 25 years at the City of Bellevue, Mary Pat Byrne has been the driving force behind arts programs for downtown and citywide. As a persistent arts champion and advocate, Byrne deserves significant credit for the progress Bellevue has made in arts programming, such as the biennial sculpture exhibition, support for various arts organizations and overall quality of life.
Community Treasure: Bellevue Botanical Garden Society
Formed in 1986 to help establish and grow the Bellevue Botanical Garden, the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society is comprised of a dedicated group of volunteers who contribute countless hours of service to one of our city’s community treasures. The society nurtures and preserves a place of great beauty, and has supplied ample leadership in fundraising to offer visitors expanded educational opportunities and new features to explore. This group has also hosted musical events and celebrations at the garden, including the holiday tradition Garden d’Lights.
Opening of the Year: Bake’s Place
The May 2012 opening of Bake’s Place helped downtown take another step forward as a regional entertainment center. The bold vision and focused determination of owners Craig and Laura Baker to expand their business to Bellevue activated a ground floor space on the corner of NE 2nd Street and 108th Avenue NE. Bake’s Place boasts a richly-appointed dining room, outstanding menu and pristine acoustics, which combine to create a rich blend of live music, food and atmosphere. Bake’s now presents a variety of musical genres six nights a week. The Bellevue Downtown Association experienced the venue first hand, as the space came alive with packed houses during the 2012 Bellevue Jazz Festival.
Commute Champion: HNTB
As a company, HNTB sets a high standard when it comes to improving access and mobility for their employees. The firm’s Downtown Bellevue office offers a generous commute benefits program, providing employees with a subsidy for transit, vanpool and vanshare fares, a Guaranteed Ride Home program and amenities for bike commuters. In 2012, 80 percent of HNTB employees received an ORCA transit pass, and more than 70 percent of their employees chose a mode other than driving alone to work, including 6 percent who biked or walked.
Groundbreaking of the Year: Su Development
Su Development broke ground on downtown’s first major project coming out of the recession, a 21-story residential tower at NE 2nd Street and 106th Avenue NE called Soma Towers. It will house 142 apartments, 10,000 square feet for shops and restaurants, a 3,400-square-foot exhibition hall, 5,300 square feet of office space and 198 underground parking stalls. The forward-thinking firm has consistently pioneered livable spaces and amenities for residents, arts organizations and retail tenants. This groundbreaking showed continued confidence in the Downtown Bellevue market and kept the spotlight fixed on downtown’s future as a livable urban center.
Cultural Catalyst: The Bellevue Collection
The Bellevue Collection has made a significant commitment to animating its already bustling retail environment with arts exhibitions, cultural programming and demonstrations featuring local performance groups. Highlights include the Lunar New Year Celebration produced in partnership with The Taiwan Benevolent Association of America, a holiday tour of traditions and histories from around the world, and an active live music calendar in support of young musicians. These cultural and artistic events and celebrations share a common commitment to quality in their ability to attract, engage and delight downtown customers.
Leadership: Leslie Lloyd
Leslie Lloyd’s 11 years as president of the Bellevue Downtown Association have spanned a time of extraordinary growth and change in the downtown community. The BDA has found itself at the heart of many critical and evolving issues, from city planning to performing arts, and philanthropy to regional transportation. Leslie has been a champion of keeping people focused on a vision for a thriving, vibrant downtown. She has translated passion and energy into thoughtful goal-oriented dialogue and has provided a clear and steady voice as a creative thinker and catalyst for big ideas. The BDA recognizes her outstanding leadership in service of BDA and the downtown community.