Block of Old Bellevue businesses forced to move

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Doreen Russell, who owns Ming's Zen Gallery in Old Bellevue, has a daunting task ahead of her.

"You know how it is when you move a house, just magnify that about a thousand times," Russell said.

Russell has a month to find a new location and move thousands of delicate Asian artifacts and collectibles, furniture, Buddhas, snuff boxes, and porcelain.

Ming's is among eight businesses in the heart of Old Bellevue that must relocate to make room for a new apartment and retail building between Main Street and First.

"When we first got the note, we were like oh my gosh, oh no, because we thought we were going to be here longer," said Russell.

The owners of Timeless Elegance are also searching for a new home to house their antiques.

"It's shocking how many people are upset," said owner Michele Dillon.

Her shop is a quaint home that once housed The Fountain Court Restaurant. Nostalgic customers are stopping in posing for pictures where they proposed, or had weddings. Dillon says one girl came in and started to cry.

"Started to bawl and said my grandmother brought me for lunch here twice a week," she said.

Russell says she'll start moving her treasures in about a week. She's not yet pinned down the exact location. She says she wishes she could remain in Old Bellevue but there isn't a space big enough for her shop's needs.

Shop owners are concerned that as Main Street develops and incorporates into the rest of downtown, part of Old Bellevue's uniqueness disappears. Russell said she's crushed to leave the neighborhood.

"It's great to see the city build up and become a bigger city but at the same time sad to see a lot of the smaller businesses come and go," she said.

Dillon said she knows her antique business will be fine wherever it lands but the future location remains a mystery.

"I said God knows where. My husband said I wish God would tell us," she said.