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The Thunderbeat

The Student News Site of Bellevue West Senior High School

The Thunderbeat

The Student News Site of Bellevue West Senior High School

The Thunderbeat

    Construction planned in Bellevue

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    Rendering+of+planned+cybersecurity+facility+in+Bellevue.+Photo+provided+by+Harrison+Johnson
    Rendering of planned cybersecurity facility in Bellevue. Photo provided by Harrison Johnson

    Two new construction projects have recently been announced in the city of Bellevue, both located south of Offutt Air Force Base.

    The first of these facilities is a water park, which Bellevue Mayor Rusty Hike believes will create a significant amount of economic growth for the city. 

    “The park will attract a minimum of 400,000 people a year,” Hike said. “They’ll be filling our restaurants, they’ll be buying swimming suits, they’ll be staying in Bellevue and spending money, so it fills up our local businesses.”

    Hike said that because of this expected increase in tourism, he has put his support behind an increased sales tax, which he said would allow the city to better benefit from outside dollars.

    Hike said that he expects the area around the waterpark will also be developed, as the waterpark will take up 13 acres on a 40 acre piece of land. He also emphasized just how large the planned development will be.

    “Just to give you a comparison in size, most people have been to the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, that park is 38,000 square feet,” Hike said.  “So this will be 100,000 square feet plus we’ll have outdoor pools as well. So it probably will be a top 10 waterpark in the country.”

    Bellevue’s director of economic and community development Harrison Johnson said that a study was conducted to calculate what the estimated impact of the development will be in the first 10 years.

    “We’ll have a $720 million impact and what that economic impact is includes when somebody comes to visit the waterpark from out of state, they’re actually going to be spending money in that area,” Johnson said. “They’re going to be spending money in businesses and gas stations, restaurants that are outside.” 

    Hike said that in addition to the facility itself, three hotels will be built to house the tourists.

    “We’ll also get usage tax sales, tax jobs from those hotels as well, [since] hotels generate quite a bit of income for the city and for the county,” Hike said. “So there’s a lot of benefits.”

    Johnson said that they want to utilize the expected income for the city’s parks, specifically allocating money from the increased sales tax towards that purpose. 

    “Since we’re introducing tourism in a major way, it’s key that there is some method by which we can capture those dollars, and then use those for development of the community,” Johnson said. “So it’s one of those tools that we need so that we can put that money back into our parks and recreation.”

    In addition to the expected water park, plans are in the works for a new cyber security complex to be constructed. The plan calls for a multi-purpose space, with perhaps the main feature being a cybersecurity building housing both private entities and military facilities. 

    “The first two floors would be designated to the military, so STRATCOM is in charge of this project, or this falls within their purview,” Hike said. “So the military would occupy pretty much the first two floors, there would be SCIF rooms you know, on probably the third and fourth floor. Skiff rooms are very highly secured private rooms where top secret stuff can be done. And then the top two or three floors will be all private contractors and their intel companies.”

    Outside of this facility, Johnson explained, the plan includes a mixed use area. This would involve combining commercial and retail businesses on the ground level— like restaurants and shops— with housing built above.

    He said that it’s designed this way to provide a more environmentally friendly space, which would include green spaces and natural features with native plants. 

    “The emphasis, of course, with both of those areas is to create a very inviting development, which cohabitates very closely with sort of the natural, pastoral background that you have in the southern part of the city,” Johnson said.

    In addition, Johnson said that he envisions a walkable district like this working closely with a public transportation system, as the city is currently at work on a public transportation plan.

    “The Recreation District itself will have a very prominent emphasis on walkability,” Harrison said. “So that we’re trying to remove the need to have to use a car in terms of getting around the entertainment district. So individuals and visitors can come, you know, once they get to the entertainment district, hopefully by you know, vehicle or bus or shuttle service or whatever the case is, they will have the opportunity that will be designed so they can walk and use other modes of transportation as opposed to using cars for that.”

    Hike also expressed excitement for a racetrack and casino that they are working on getting approval for, which would be built in the same area. Johnson said that, overall, these projects have the potential to send Bellevue in a new direction.

    “It’s a huge game changer in almost every way,” Johnson said.

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