Transit in Overlake Village, Group Health site outlined in black

In addition to Bellevue’s open house on Tuesday evening, the Redmond City Council is holding a public hearing tomorrow, October 18, at 7:30 pm at Redmond City Hall on the Master Plan to redevelop Group Health Cooperative’s 28-acre site in the Overlake Village area. The area is planned to become a new transit oriented urban village served by the RapidRide B Line and Link light rail.

The Master Plan envisions a phased redevelopment of the property that would ultimately result in about 1,400 residences, 1.2 million square feet of office and retail uses, and a hotel and conference center.

It is going to be an interesting string of transit oriented development along East Link between downtown Bellevue and Overlake. Once the whole area redevelops, the B Line jog over to 152nd Ave NE makes a lot of sense.

29 Replies to “Group Health Overlake Master Plan Public Hearing Tomorrow”

  1. That sure was/is a beautiful campus; almost like a park with the huge evergreen trees left standing.

  2. Once East Link is in place, the B line shouldn’t need to make the jog. Connections at OTC and BTC should be good enough to get people where they need to go.

      1. After giving this some thought I think that RR B should turn off 156th at NE 31st and use the NE 36th overpass to 148th. At NE 51st it should cross back and get on 520 and use Leary Way to Redmond TC serving Redmond Town Center and the preferred future Link DT station. Not moving the RR stop when the Link Station was moved was a huge over site.

  3. It looks amazing, other than the on-street parking on every street cross-section. In such an urban village, doesn’t it make sense to remove this feature to keep traffic moving smoothly and reduce conflicts (esp. with bikes)?

    1. I’m not sure quite what best practices are for parking. As a cyclist, I don’t think street parking is particularly worse for cyclists than it is for cars — if there isn’t space between the door zone and the moving cars’ path I take the lane. And parking lots in front of buildings are bad for the pedestrian environment. Street parking might, in fact, help the pedestrian environment specifically by slowing down car traffic (faster traffic is louder and more disconcerting for walkers).

      Back to biking… sometimes streets with parking where there’s little choice but to take the lane (The Ave is a two-lane example, Market in much of Ballard is a four-lane example) are better to ride than ones where there’s no parking and a marginal area for riding to the right of the traffic (Pacific in Wallingford is an example). One of the differences is that on the latter drivers really want to go fast.

      1. I don’t want to sound like I’m shooting down your comment here. I should probably amplify the first sentence of my post — I’m really, really not sure what best practices are for parking in TOD, for any sense of the word “best practices”. It feels like cars parked on the street are a part of most walkable commercial areas I’ve encountered (including suburban ones), but I’m certainly limited in my experience.

      2. I’ll have to look at our street manual. I have a feeling we adopted a fairly conservative standard with 20+ ft length for spaces and 12+ ft wide. I doubt that should be a problem for bikes. I’ll check into it during my lunch hour and post a copy if one is available.

      3. Al–I think this was covered before in a post comparing US cities to other countries. We love on-street parking and parking in general. But most countries have radically less. I’m not sure what best practice is for TOD either, but it isn’t necessarily the best use of limited space. There are benefits to on-street parking and I think one could make many different and equally compelling arguments for and against.

      4. As far as interactions between bikes and parked cars go… the way many bike lanes are drawn here is ridiculous. The bike lane starts at the edge of the parking, but is narrow enough that only the inner edge is out of the door zone (if that). An good example of this problem is Lakeview Dr. in Kirkland. The arterial portions of Greenwood and Phinney in Seattle are even worse, because the limit of the parking spaces isn’t marked. On Lakeview I can call in enforcement on people that park blatantly over the line (I have to admit I’m pretty arbitrary about this… for one thing, I); on Greenwood/Phinney nobody knows where the line is, so we often have to change into the general-purpose lane to keep a safe distance from parked cars.

        If you’re going to have a bike lane next to parked cars, the most important thing is to make it wide enough. Although I dislike many aspects of the Dexter Ave. treatment, the width assigned to cyclists is enough that we can avoid the door zone. After that, it’s enforcing that parked

      5. Ach, clumsy fingers hit tab and spacebar, submitted post, left some things unsaid. Anyway, after width, the next most important thing is ticketing cars that are over the line early and often.

        Then I remembered that there’s something more important than either of those things, which is intersection design. On an arterial road the bike lane should be clearly treated as another travel lane, just a narrow one that cars can’t use. So it should proceed straight through intersections. Right-turning traffic should get right of the bike lane before the intersection (I think EB 164th St. SW at North Rd. in Snohomish County gets the geometry right, though the bike lane’s boundaries should continue, as dotted lines, all the way until they become solid again), or merge with it if there’s not room for that (NB 108th Ave. NE at 68th St. gets the geometry right for this case, but should include sharrows extending straight from the bike lane through the left side of the right turn lane). If you’re forcing cyclists to move left (see EB 164th St. SW at Larch Way in Snohomish County) or having right turns across the lane in the intersection (as in the horribly confusing situation on SB Bothell-Everett Hwy. at 180th St. SE up in Snohomish County) you’re doing it wrong.

        In addition there’s lane design. The bike lane is a travel lane. When a general purpose lane on the right ends there are signs instructing drivers to merge left well in advance of the lane ending. A bike lane needs some signage also, alerting all road users what’s going on. In Kirkland on NB 108th Ave NE around 52nd St the bike lane goes away for a couple blocks. There are sharrows right down the middle of the general-purpose lane here, educating all road users on cyclists’ proper lane position here; that’s truly awesome! But the lack of warning beforehand is not so awesome. On SB 108th Ave NE just north of the South Kirkland P&R the bike lane simply ends with no warning, and no sharrows. The “lane line” (a former shoulder marker, so not something designed with any thought at all) just runs out into the curb.

        Sorry for being so long-winded, but Stephen appears to actually have some say over how things are built… and based on how things are generally built, it doesn’t look like many people in dept. of transportation in this region know a thing about bike facilities.

      6. An advantage of street parking along busier streets is that it buffers the pedestrian zone. It’s also the only realistic way to provide parking for retail uses in a development like this with no surface parking lots (which, in and of itself, is a real boon to TOD and walkability).

        Smooth (read fast) traffic movement isn’t really in the interest of walkable/bikable urban neighborhoods. Besides, there isn’t much of shortage of vehicle-oriented streets in this area.

      7. So, here’s the story on bikes:

        -You’re right that the plan involves parking on most of the main streets. Unfortunately, the city bicycle manual only requires 5.5′ lanes for bikes and 7′ for on-street parallel parking. The schematics on the masterplan relect this. That means it wouldn’t be anything different that elsewhere in Redmond. Of course, I wouldn’t expect most of the streets to be all too busy either, especially the primary street which will be curved. That would certainly keep traffic speeds down and allow bikes to keep left in bike lanes. Not justifying that fact, just saying.
        -Bike lanes would continue through travel lanes where there aren’t right-turn pockets.
        -I’ve seen a document around the office where the applicant has a vizualisation of 152nd street —> Sidewalk|Planter strip|Cycle lane|On-street parking|Traffic lane 1|Traffic lane 2|On-street parking|Cycle lane|Planter strip|Sidewalk.
        -We have a meter reading official on staff, I know she tickets in our city parking garage (as co-workers complain, though I don’t drive) and I hear she has plenty of scuffles throughout the city, so I suspect Overlake would also get some attention too. But, I’ve never seen her do her thing on the street personally and I’m not sure how strictly parking in the lines is enforced. But then, I’ve never seen someone park outside the lines here either.
        -Also, I’m not invovled in street design. That’s the public works transportation division which develop the manuals. But we do have a bike guru here who is working on changes. So keep the rhetoric down.

  4. Interestingly, my co-worker was asked during the previous planning study session something to the effect of “what happens if Link never makes it to Overlake?” I suspect planning committee members aren’t necessarily convinced all is go given the Bellevue madness and shortfalls in tax collection. It is a great beginnings to a plan though. Hopefully the applicant will effectively address the environmental issues as it moves forward.

  5. Looks like a good concept. I would like to know it fits in with the non-group health TOD plans around it. Once again an example of suburban cities doing a better job of planning for TOD than Seattle.

    1. If this were in Seattle, folks around here would be demanding that the buildings be 85′ or higher. I doubt that’s what Redmond’s planning.

      1. Okay, I’ll prepare myself to be surprised. I just remember that when Microsoft was planning their nearby buildings that it took some effort to get Redmond to appprove four storey buildings. I know that now in downtown, new projects go to six or seven storeys.

        You seem to know a bit about the plans. Are you involved somehow?

      2. Buildings of up to 12 storeys are proposed as landmark buildings with many in the 6 storey range. Work in the planning department. Although, I’m not involved the project or application.

      3. Commercial buildings can go up to 10 stories/126′. Residential towers to 12 stories/125′. There’s a plan for a hotel/conference center on the site – it can go to 12 stories/135′. This is quite a bit over base height limits – there are a lot of height and density bonuses available in exchange for public amenities and other Redmond priorities. That’s on page 53 of the Master Plan.

      4. @aw

        Anyone can “know a bit” about the plans because we linked directly to them! Come on. This isn’t rocket science, just skim through the document.

      5. Yep, you’re right. I could have read the document. I saw this morning that it’s linked right there in the post. I skimmed over that yesterday.

  6. First time I attended a public hearing in Redmond. Boy, they have a nice City Hall! Obviously the Group Health development is not a hot button issue in Redmond. Myself and one other private citizen were the only ones that spoke to council. The rest of the time was taken by staff addressing previous questions from study sessions and a really good presentation by the “applicants”, Group Health. One thing they addressed very well I though was why all the trees needed to come down. In short, if you really want an “urban” development the trees aren’t going to survive and they present a substantial risk in coming down during storms. Also, they are not going to be clear cut in anticipation of development. If it takes 20 years to develop parts of the property then the trees may be there another 20 years (not likely, more like 8-10).

    My only point was that transit “planning” was MIA in the master “plan”. Sure they have a nice pedestrian corridor leading to the “future” (maybe) light rail station but bus connections defer to Metro routing on existing streets (which change drastically) yet buses are going to determine the extent to which development is really transit oriented over the next 10-15 years. By the time light rail arrives the die is cast.

    Disturbing is that city staff is directed to plan roads and zoning as if light rail never comes to fruition. The argument is that, “well, if/when light rail happens it will reduce the number of cars.” NOT! Once the capacity and auto dominated development is built light rail is only a generator of a small number of additional trips. RR, ST Express, POM (plain old Metro) all need to be designed into the street grid and integrated with the decision on the location of the light rail station now because the majority of the development is going to happen before light rail arrives.

    1. Oh yeah, forgot to add that one of the photos used in the presentation by the Group Health dudes was credited to Oran Viriyincy. Props!!!

    2. ya, I came away with the impression that the developers didn’t get decoupling cars from TOD. Indeed, they were rather proud of themselves for seeming to “solve” a street grid problem by building MORE commercial space to finance the building of some streets they say is needed to handle the expected traffic from the residential units. (?!?)

      One lady spoke some critique on the plan and had some interesting things to say. She seemed to be coming from the “naturist” P.O.V. and challenged the necessity to remove the native trees. She also said that there was too much density” (smirk), not enough green space (I agree), and that there was not a vantage point provided for (good point, public not afforded a view). There will be another opportunity for community to provide input on this plan.

      I think the Light Rail and transit is going to be key to this whole thing whether they get that or not. Does Redmond want another marginally functioning “fake” city scape development with high commercial vacancy rates that can only practicably be gotten to by car?

      And I can tell you from personal experience 1000 living units aren’t enough to support a vibrant shopping environment especially when other car oriented shopping is nearby. The city and Group Health need to be audacious and change the ratio of housing to commercial space, and reduce the number of cars e.g. go for a ratio of 1 car per 3 living spaces. The city should bet the farm on the light rail and transit to provide the majority of mobility connections to people. If the number of housing units were to increase to 2500 or more, then you have a critical mass that could support a local shopping economy. Easy transit connections between downtown Redmond, Overlake, Crossroads, Bellevue and Seattle would likely make this project a very desirable place to live and work and play.

      1. The 1,400 units discussed in the presentation are a required minimum – there is zoning capacity for significanty more residential development on the site. The 1,400 in the master plan is based on relatively cheap 5-over-1 construction. 12 story residential towers are allowed on the site, and if the market changes there could potentially be a lot more housing on the site.

        And no one believes the residential development is going to cause traffic congestion – the traffic analysis was done to anticipate and plan for rush hour traffic for the commercial development. The applicants point in the presentation was that the commercial development is what will pay for the infrastructure (some of which is needed for the development, some of which is in response to the City’s desire for a new east-west public street through the site). Residential development is not burdened with the same infrastructure requirements to encourage it to come sooner.

        Its also good to remember that this is just the first part of Redmond’s overall plan for Overlake Village – in the planning and analysis for the area as a whole they are planning for significantly more development, both residential and commercial (and a more walkable street grid, and more urban paths, another park, and more pedestrian amenities). The Group Health site is just the first step. The City has a lot of planning documents on their website that discuss the vision for the neighborhood as a whole.

    3. The master plan document has more about transit connections and strategies than the presentation did – the presentation focused on the issues that the Council raised in previous meetings. The street grid was laid out specifically to provide good pedestrian connections between the various transit facilities that surround the site.

      If your point is that Overlake needs a better coordinated transit plan as a whole, I think no one would argue with you.

      1. Overlake needs a better coordinated transit plan as a whole,

        That is exactly the point. And RR B is an F. Three left turns (a routing no no, ask UPS) so that they can serve two P&R lots; as if anyone is going to drive to one of the Overlake lots and bus it to Redmond or Crossroads. The Microsoft campus is a jobs center as is Nintendo, Digikey and a few other companies but the multi family residential and hotels are concentrated on the Bellevue side of 148th. The street grid and development around the Link station site is likely to be built out by the time the train gets there. To be an effective multi-modal hub buses need a direct route from 156th to 148th, direct connection to the future train station which should be the primary transfer point to both local buses and ST Express on SR-520. If it isn’t made the center of the transit universe now then it’s going to look like an after thought with people having to hoof it almost 2000 feet to the “regional bus center”. I have to chuckle every time I see Overlake P&R (not the Transit Center) referred to that way. This area should have something resembling the Bellevue TC by the time East Link is built. And East Link funds could be used to partner with the Cities (Bellevue and Redmond) and private business to make this happen. Redmond already has committed large amounts of funding to the street grid, 148th improvements, etc.

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