Opinion

Imagine Overlake: Coming soon

Tom Hinman - Courtesy Photo
Tom Hinman
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

By Tom Hinman

Overlake is a shopping district adjoining Bellevue and Redmond neighborhoods that will be transformed over the next decade. Although Redmond is planning much of what will become the Overlake Village light-rail station area, developments in this community-to-be will be key to eastern Bellevue’s future as well.

Did you know that Sound Transit’s East Link station In Overlake Village will connect surrounding Bellevue neighborhoods to Seattle and connections north and south? This includes neighborhoods able to access the Overlake Village station from the north using a new bicycle/pedestrian bridge over SR 520.

Did you know that the new Overlake Village Park is only the first of three parks to be developed in Overlake in the next 20 years? This park will be the centerpiece of the former Group Health hospital site, but eventually more than nine acres of parkland will be built in Overlake that residents of adjoining Bel-Red neighborhoods can also enjoy.

Did you know that Bellevue and Redmond planners met for two years to develop strategies getting the most benefit from East Link’s Bel-Red extension? Proposed collaborative approaches emerged that should help both Bellevue and Redmond grow transit-oriented communities in that corridor.

Finally, did you know that South Lake Union – Seattle’s newest community emerging amid a lot of buzz – could be a template of all that Overlake could be on a somewhat smaller scale?

In South Lake Union, a partnership has been created between city planners, developers and the “Friends and Neighbors of South Lake Union” – a proactive, multi-stakeholder community council recognizing the value of collaborative efforts around urban form, housing, transportation and economic development. We might all benefit from South Lake Union’s example.

In thinking about Overlake, a vision of the broader neighborhood is helpful. As urban centers in Downtown Bellevue and Redmond have shown, it takes multiple focal points to make a community desirable and livable. In the years ahead, there will be opportunities to add character to Overlake. But it takes a community to make such a place livable by adding a human dimension to the built environment under development.

Get in on the ground floor now to plan Overlake’s future and establish a framework for what we'd like to see as that district is transformed. Imagine Overlake is launching that “Friends and Neighbors” process with a community information meeting from 6:30-8 p.m. March 10 at the Redmond Library. More details will follow, but meantime, let imagineoverlake@gmail.com know of your interest or questions.

 

Tom Hinman is facilitator for Imagine Overlake.

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