If Group Health has its way, a 28-acre parcel it owns in the Overlake area will someday be the site of a mixed-use development featuring 10 to 12 apartment buildings and 1.4-million square feet of commercial space.
Representatives from the non-profit health care system presented their vision for redevelopment of the property on Tuesday during a public hearing at a Redmond City Council meeting. The council could take action on a proposed 20-year development agreement as soon as Dec. 6.
The vacant property, located at 2464 152nd Ave. NE in Overlake Village, is the site of a hospital that closed in 2008. The parcel is bordered by the campus and would be adjacent to a proposed East Link light rail station.
During their presentation on Tuesday, Group Health representatives highlighted the project's mix of residential, commercial office and retail space. Their plans include 1,400 new residential units, 1.18 million square feet of commercial office space, at least 25,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, and an 180,000-square-foot 180-room hotel.
Plans also call for a 2.67-acre park and a central pedestrian walkway running from the Microsoft campus to the light rail station.
Mike Hubbard of Capstone Partners, a real estate development firm overseeing the project, told council members the project would fit in well with the city's vision of an urban, high-density neighborhood where people can live, work and shop.
"If somebody really wanted to live and work here—and eat here—it can all work," Hubbard said. "This will happen eventually over time."
City staff also addressed a concern that was raised by Council President Richard Cole regarding Sound Transit's plans to bring light rail to the area by 2023. Dennis Lisk, an associate planner with the city, said the project plans do not rely on light rail coming to the area and transportation impact studies were conducted without assuming that transit option will be there.
Plans also call for the removal of most of the trees that exist on the site with a total of approximately 1,050 significant trees coming down. Mark Brumbaugh, the landscape architect overseeing the project, said the removal is unfortunate but necessary because of the existing asphalt that would be torn up and the nature of the existing tree root system.
Taking the pavement out would damage tree roots that have become embedded in the asphalt, Brumbaugh said, while removal of existing buildings and so-called buffer trees would make most remaining trees likely to fall over.
"You remove those buildings, you're going to change the wind patterns of the site," he said. "So almost regardless of what type of development was going to occur here in the future, you've got significant impacts just due to existing conditions."
Tree mitigation plans call for the planting of 3,345 trees at to-be-determined, off-site locations.
Redmond resident Mary Wirtha said she is concerned the project will take away too many trees and add too much concrete to the site. Wirtha, who lives in the nearby Viewpoint neighborhood, said she would like more of the parcel to be left as open green space.
"I propose that at least 40 percent of the area be left as green or park area," she said.
Public comment will continue to be accepted on the proposal through Dec. 6, when the public hearing will be continued at a regular city council meeting.