David Bruce and his daughter emerged from Bellevue Square this week hoping to return to their car parked across the street, at the new Lincoln...
David Bruce and his daughter emerged from Bellevue Square this week hoping to return to their car parked across the street, at the new Lincoln Square, but they had a heck of a time getting back.
Just where was that skybridge connecting the two shopping areas anyway?
“They haven’t worked this out yet,” said Bruce, as he stood in front of a map in the Bellevue Square parking garage.
Bruce and his daughter eventually found the bridge, and most people have had positive things to say about the $500 million Lincoln Square development that opened Nov. 1. But with construction workers still swirling around, many stores not yet open and some customers complaining about navigation and disabled access, it’s clear the project is still a work in progress.
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The skybridge — Bellevue’s first — seems to be prompting the most questions.
Stretching 110 feet across Bellevue Way, between Northeast Seventh and Eighth streets, it connects the second level of the Lincoln Square shopping center with the third level of the Bellevue Square northeast parking garage.
The steel-and-glass bridge is easy to find on the Lincoln Square side, where it connects directly to the shopping area. But reaching it from the Bellevue Square side is trickier. Customers have two routes: up a stairway accessed from the sidewalk on Bellevue Way, or through an entryway from the parking garage, sandwiched between Z’Tejas restaurant and the old Borders bookstore.
Both access points are labeled only by small, temporary signs. Permanent signs will be installed soon, mall officials said.
To reach the bridge, shoppers inside Bellevue Square would most likely walk through Nordstrom or Macy’s, over small outdoor bridges to the northeast parking garage, then to the third-floor skybridge entryway.
Some maps inside the garage do not yet show the skybridge.
Officials at Kemper Development, which owns Lincoln Square and Bellevue Square, say they are working hard to provide more signs to help direct people from place to place.
The company has a team of “ambassadors” showing shoppers how to get around the new development, including the skybridge. Navigation problems are part of a natural learning curve, said Anne Marie Peacock, the company’s assistant marketing director.
Norm Smithart, an ambassador, said customers have had problems finding the bridge, but once he points out the direction, “you’d be amazed how easy people remember.”
Since the bridge opened, some people have jaywalked across Bellevue Way to get between the two developments, rather than walking across the bridge. Bellevue police spokesman Michael Chiu said he has not heard of any problems, but if they develop, “that’s something that we would be enforcing” by issuing tickets.
The new parking garage underneath Lincoln Square also has been the source of at least one complaint. Tim Harrison, who lost a leg to cancer and sometimes uses a wheelchair, drove to the new development Tuesday and discovered there were no disabled parking spaces.
Harrison, a Bellevue resident and advocate for better access at local stores, eventually found a spot that gave him room to get out of the car, but he was angry that no spaces were set aside.
“This is a brand-new place that makes its money by catering to the public, and it’s neglected a large percentage of the public,” he said. “Access doesn’t mean squat if you can’t get to the front door.”
Kemper Development learned of the problem a couple of days ago and now has eight disabled spots on the garage’s fourth floor and five disabled spots on the fifth floor, all set aside by orange cones and a temporary sign, Peacock said. Two spots are also available on the first floor by asking for an attendant.
The mall has about 20 permanent disabled spaces on the garage’s second floor, but the first three floors are still filled with construction crews and closed to the public.
“It is a big construction project, and it honestly was an oversight,” Peacock said. Providing disabled parking is a “serious thing to us,” she said.
Ashley Bach: 206-464-2567 or firstname.lastname@example.org