Esterra Park to bring 130 ‘truly’ affordable units to Redmond

Some 130 affordable housing units will be available for low- and medium-income families in Redmond once the Esterra Park development is completed.

The complex will be located in the Overlake neighborhood south of the Microsoft headquarters and is slated for construction beginning in 2019 with leases being offered in 2021.

Villette Nolon is the executive director for Imagine Housing, an organization that promotes the creation and preservation of affordable housing in Washington.

“It’s really an expansive way to transform the Eastside and transform this community in Redmond,” she said of affordable housing. “Most developers are building luxury buildings because there’s an appetite for that and a profit to be made.”

The whole Esterra complex will have more than 2,000 apartments and has been in the works for around four years.

The 130 affordable housing units will begin at 30 percent of the area median household income and scale up to 60 percent.

This creates a much more realistic housing income grade for workers in the area.

While the state’s minimum wage is $11.50, the median household income in King County as of 2015 was $75,302, according to county statistics.

As defined by government regulations, housing can be classified as affordable if it sits at or below 80 percent of the median income, or $60,242 annually per household.

For a single-parent family, that means they would have to be making nearly $29 an hour to be able to rent an “affordable” unit.

Most service jobs pay at or slightly above minimum wage.

By setting income brackets for the 130 affordable housing units in Esterra, Nolon said she hopes to help more families that work in Redmond be able to afford to live here too.

“It’s not just open to anybody, it’s open to people who are low-income people,” she said.

The Esterra development would be one of the largest truly affordable housing developments on the Eastside, she said.

It will have amenities like an on-site YMCA-operated child care facility, shopping options, green space, a rooftop garden and offices.

It could benefit lower-wage workers like those in retail and hospitality, as well as firefighters and teachers.

“For a lot of people, living on the Eastside is extraordinarily difficult,” Nolon said.

The importance of helping people stay in the community where they work has far reaching benefits, including curbing traffic by reducing or eliminating commutes.

There’s also an issue of equity.

As cities become more expensive they should not become inaccessible to lower-income families.

Mixed-income housing helps keep lower-income families closer to services and a local community, Nolon said.

“You can’t create a community where it’s a one, big, great gated community,” she said.

Affordable housing, such as the Esterra development, also helps prevent people from becoming homeless.

According to city data, roughly 32 percent of all jobs in Redmond pay less than $50,000 a year while the average monthly rent last year was $1,845.

The city has been a good partner too, Nolon said, with support coming from the mayor’s office and staff.

The last year passed a measure that offers a tax credit for developers who create affordable housing units.

It is unclear whether it will be effective in bringing more affordable development into the city.

This will likely become more important as the county’s population continues to grow.

Projections from King County expect there to be some 2.7 million people living in the county by 2040, up from 2.05 million in 2015.

In addition to the housing units, the Esterra development will have 1.2 million square feet of office space, a 3-acre hub and a 250-room hotel.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

NW Carpenters Union members strike in front of downtown Bellevue construction site (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
Carpenters union strike interupts some prominent Eastside construction projects

Union representative says members are prepared to strike “as long as it takes.”

Map of proposed landfill expansion sites (screenshot from King County website)
Waste management expert knocks county’s plan to expand landfill

The waste management advocate said the decision to expand seems pre-determined despite assessment.

Participants in fundraiser previous event (courtesy of Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter)
Walk To End Alzheimer’s returns to Eastside on Sept. 25

Alzheimer’s Association moves forward with plans for an in-person event.

file photo
State employees including first responders sue state over vaccine mandate

The lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 90 plaintiffs claims Inslee’s order is unconstitutional.

Photo of construction of Westside Park renovations (courtesy of City of Redmond)
Redmond’s Westside Park renovation is expected to be complete this Fall

Renovations are focused on increasing recreational space while also preserving “woodsy” aesthetic.

Pixabay photo
Union carpenters to go on strike, expected to impact Eastside Microsoft projects

Members authorized strike after rejecting AGC offer for the fourth time.

file photo
The state’s hospitals face “unprecedented collapse” amid COVID uptick warn healthcare unions

Union spokeperson says understaffing was a problem even before the pandemic.

pizza from Tom Douglas’ Serious Pie (courtesy of Serious Pie)
Eastside to get its first Serious Pie restaurant location

Serious Pie is owned by Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas.

Most Read