The Redmond City Council has approved a development plan for a 28-acre parcel that will add more residential and commercial space in the Overlake neighborhood.
The site located at 2464 152nd Ave. NE is owned by Group Health Cooperative and was previously the campus for Group Health Overlake Hospital before it closed in 2008. Plans feature a mixed-use area with residential and business buildings that would include up to 1,400 residential units and 1.4 million square feet in office and retail space as well as a 180-room hotel/conference center and a 2.67-acre park.
In approving the plan, the council also OK’d an exception to a city code that requires new developments to retain at least 35 percent of the trees onsite.
The plan calls for all 1,133 trees onsite to be removed, which raised concerns among residents and community members, who urged the council not to grant GHC the exception.
At a recent Redmond City Council meeting, Councilmember Kim Allen voiced her concerns about removing all of the trees onsite. She said initial discussions and plans called for saving some of the trees onsite.
“I’m not going to support this,” she said during the council’s discussion leading up to the vote.
Councilmember Hank Myers said the GHC plans align with the city of Redmond’s goal for a pedestrian- and transit-friendly urban center in Overlake.
While the plan calls for all of the onsite trees to be eliminated, he pointed out that Group Health has committed to plant mitigation trees offsite, including 10 acres before any work is done onsite. This will create a healthy, usable forest for residents to be excited about, Myers said.
Councilmember Hank Margeson added that the plan goes beyond the city’s requirement to replace trees at a 1-to-1 ratio in the case of an exception as they have committed to a 3-to-1 mitigation plan.
All Council members emphasized the difficult decision they faced in approving the plan and granting the exception but most said removing the trees is necessary to establish Overlake as a regional urban center and manage growth in concentrated areas while preserving Redmond’s established neighborhoods and rural areas.
“For me, there’s no other choice than to support this,” said Councilmember David Carson said.
Upon the council’s decision, Cindy Jayne of Sustainable Redmond said, “We’re certainly disappointed in the outcome.” Jayne added that Sustainable Redmond supports the Group Health project overall and has a good working relationship with the city of Redmond — the two parties just happened to disagree on the particular issue of the trees.
Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.