Person Behind the Place:
Economic Development Specialist | City of Bellevue
One of the major behind-the-scenes heroes is Anthony Gill, Economic Development Specialist at the City of Bellevue. Even before the pandemic, he's been helping small businesses succeed in Bellevue. Hear why he loves the #HeartofBellevue and what's going on at the City.
What inspires you? Why do you enjoy working Downtown?
I’ve loved watching the way that small businesses have pivoted and adapted during the pandemic. Last spring in particular was a struggle for a lot of businesses, but it’s been exciting to watch them shift their operations in cool new ways—whether by it was by offering outdoor dining, shifting to creating PPE, creating meal kits, experimenting with new online experiences, or now offering discounts for vaccinated patrons. There’s a lot of creativity out there.
Downtown is really the heart of the city, so for me, I love that there are a lot of great gathering spaces within a few minutes of City Hall and the transit center. It’s fun to get out, grab lunch, and people-watch along the Grand Connection or at Compass Plaza. The projects under construction right now along the Grand Connection route are really going to take that experience to the next level, and hopefully bring people out for evenings and weekends as well.
Any special projects or events you’re working on at the City?
We’ve been working with the city’s Transportation Department, restaurant owners, Old Bellevue stakeholders, and the Bellevue Downtown Association to expand outdoor dining again this year. This year’s Al Fresco program runs for four months in Old Bellevue and across the city at dozens of restaurants and cafés offering outdoor experiences. I’m particularly excited that we also have a number of restaurants participating this year beyond downtown—mostly in BelRed and Crossroads.
Favorite places to SHOP in Bellevue?
I’m a huge skier and I love to get outdoors, so it has to be REI.
Favorite places to DINE in Bellevue?
For lunch, I love Nibbana Thai, though because of the pandemic, I haven’t been in since they switched locations. For happy hour or dinner, anything on Main Street. Depending on what I’m feeling, I’m a big fan of Monsoon and Bis on Main. And 520 has that fantastic outdoor space.
Favorite places to RELAX in Bellevue?
Without question, Meydenbauer Bay Park. The renovation, the views, and the REI Boathouse really make it a must-visit. And I love that it’s only a few minutes’ walk or roll from downtown proper. It really connects Bellevue to the lake more closely than it has been in the past.
Favorite “hidden gem” in Downtown?
It’s definitely not a “hidden” gem, given its prominent location, but I think Bellevue Arts Museum has flown under the radar a bit. Before I worked in Bellevue, I had no idea that such interesting and well put-together craft and design works were just across the street from Bellevue Square. They also did a great job of curating online experiences while they were closed during the pandemic.
Person Behind the Place is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.
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