Representatives from Group Health Cooperative (GHC) presented its mixed-use plans for the 28-acre piece of land the non-profit owns in the Overlake neighborhood at Tuesday’s Redmond City Council business meeting at City Hall.
During a public hearing on the Overlake Village Master Plan, GHC showed plans that would feature a mix of business and residential buildings that could include up to 1,400 residential units and 1.4 million square feet in office and retail space at the site located at 2464 152nd Ave. N.E. in Redmond. The proposed site, which was previously the campus of Group Health Overlake Hospital before it closed in 2008, would also include a 180-room hotel/conference center as well as a 2.67-acre park.
Mike Hubbard of Capstone Partners, the Seattle-based real estate development firm overseeing the project, said the proposed site will be in the center of a triangle of regional activity points comprised of the future light rail station to the northwest, the Microsoft Corp. campus to the west and the regional bus transit center to the south.
“We wanted to have a vision for this site,” he said.
He said a large part of that vision was creating an area where people could live and work, which means creating a place where people can gather such as a park.
Hubbard and his team, working closely with city staff, began their site planning with the park as a centerpiece, rather than an afterthought. He explained that they did it this way because they wanted to make sure there was enough land and space for an adequate park instead of putting it on whatever leftover land they had after the other elements were designed. Hubbard said the proposed park would be a network of open space and trails and would be developed over time.
Although Overlake will be an urban center, the planning team took Mother Nature into account throughout the process. This included working an 80-foot hill climb into the design as well as figuring out how to keep as many native trees in the area.
However plans do call for the elimination of 1,133 trees.
Mark Brumbaugh, the landscape architect for the project, said this is because peeling up the existing asphalt during the construction process would destroy the trees’ root system because they are shallowly rooted. Additionally, Brumbaugh said they will have some selective preservation of existing trees, keeping in mind how tearing down buildings could affect wind patterns and potential storm damage as a result.
Redmond resident Mary Wirta, who spoke during the hearing’s commenting portion, said she felt the site proposal called for too many trees to be uprooted and didn’t have enough green space. She added that she would like to see the site include least 40 percent of green space.
With all the trees that would come down, Brumbaugh said their strategy would be to replace each significant tree removed with mitigation trees at a ratio of 3-to-1 and replace each landmark tree with a mitigation tree ratio of 6-to-1. This would bring the total number of trees to 3,345, which would be planted offsite on public land that has yet to be determined.
Tom Martin, board chair for the Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce and senior vice president and chief information officer for Evergreen Hospital Medical Center, also spoke during the public comment portion and voiced his approval for the project.
“These opportunities don’t come along very often,” he said about developing such a large area. “I think this is a development to be proud of.”
Martin added that the chamber fully supports the project because it would bring an economic vibrancy to the city that aligns with the chamber’s goals.
Following the public hearing, council members voted to continue the public hearing until its Dec. 6 business meeting, during which they plan to take action. Until then, people will be able to provide input on the Overlake Village Master Plan. For more information visit www.redmond.gov.