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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Freeman’s Own Group Backs Light Rail

posted by on October 23 at 14:38 PM

Yesterday, the Bellevue Downtown Association—perhaps the group most closely associated with light-rail opponent Kemper Freeman, the largest landowner in downtown Bellevue and a BDA board member—voted to endorse Proposition 1, the mass-transit measure, striking a blow to its most prominent member. Freeman reportedly convinced the BDA to put the Mass Transit Now campaign through extra hoops to get its endorsement.

According to the campaign’s press release,

The BDA said Proposition 1 was a necessary step in providing near and long-term transit solutions for the fast-growing number of downtown Bellevue workers, residents, and visitors.

“Our ability to grow and thrive as an urban center is linked to accessibility,” said BDA Board Chair Jill Ostrem. “We approached this decision asking, ‘What’s best for Downtown Bellevue?’ Connecting downtown with the region through safe and reliable mass transit is essential to our community’s future success.”

This is a pretty astonishing endorsement. It shows that Freeman—a guy who, 13 years ago, declared private cars the victor in the war against transit—is out of touch with the very business establishment he helped establish. Bellevue’s moving on, and Kemper isn’t keeping up.

RSS icon Comments


Why doesn't Freeman die already so we can get his estate taxes?

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 23, 2008 2:50 PM

Increasing the value of Bellevue commercial property owners' land by taxing purchases made by middle class and poor families? That's assbackwards. If Bellevue property owners want a train, let them pay for it.

Posted by really now | October 23, 2008 2:51 PM

ECB, you should also point out major area employers who support Prop 1, such as Microsoft, a major tenant of Kemper Freeman.

Posted by pragmatic | October 23, 2008 2:56 PM


That's just one building. One fucking building. Major tenant? Just because their name is up on top doesn't mean they have the whole damn thing. They don't. And what's wrong with the 550?

Now I'm sure you're positive that every Microsoft employee in that building lives in Seattle and relies on public transit, I mean you'd have to in order to think that they need mass transit, but you know, they don't. I bet at least 80% of those who work there already live on the east side.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 23, 2008 3:08 PM

They lease half of that building, the top half to be specific. (That's an old story, but they now occupy all 15 of the top floors of Lincoln Square).

What I mean to point out is that Kemper Freeman associates, and has customers, that support Prop 1 and he doesn't. I'm just adding to the sentiment that his views are at odds with much of Bellevue, Microsoft is soon to be Bellevue's #1 employer, with 7,500 employees working in or around downtown Bellevue.

And to answer your point about them living on the eastside, Microsoft would benefit from having the light rail going from downtown Bellevue directly to their main campus, via the stations at Overlake Village and Overlake Transit Center.

And if everyone who works at Microsoft lives on the Eastside, then why are all of those Connector buses rolling around Queen Anne, Belltown, Wedgewood, Ballard, Fremont, etc? It sure isn't to get people to the Seattle based offices, Pioneer Square and SLU, from those neighborhoods.

BTW, why are you angry?

Posted by pragmatic | October 23, 2008 3:32 PM

I'm angry because people are lazy as fuck. There's nothing wrong with our public transportation from Seattle to Bellevue. Those connectors exist because Microsoft employees need a safe place to change their diapers without judgment.

Microsoft could benefit from growing the fuck up. Yes, they could benefit from light rail to the Overlake Transit Center. It would save all of their 550 riders a whopping five minutes. Whew!

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 23, 2008 3:43 PM

@5 I agree with your points. Also, just FYI, the Microsoft Connector is not available to the thousands of "contractors" and vendors who work for/at Microsoft. Any additional transit options to/from or throughout the eastside will really help out those with semi-temp jobs with lower pay, no benefits, and no job security--really, those are the ones who need it most.

Posted by lily | October 23, 2008 3:46 PM

@7 That's a good point about the connector. Microsoft employs somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 Vendors and Contractors in the Puget sound.

Posted by pragmatic | October 23, 2008 3:52 PM

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