An evening shot of Esterra Park on NE Turing St
Esterra Park is the epicenter of development near Overlake Station, where thousands of homes have been added. (The Urbanist)

More than 8,000 homes have either been completed in the past decade or are in the works near Overlake Station.

Of the neighborhoods on the Bel-Red Road corridor, Overlake is arguably the most built up. Today, Overlake is a mix of older office and retail parks and older and new apartment complexes. The neighborhood’s light rail station has seen its neighboring master development plan and several large apartment projects completed ahead of the 2 Line’s opening on April 27. The station area also crosses city boundaries as a combination of Bellevue and Redmond, wherein each jurisdiction’s built environment has transformed at its own rate.

A verdant pathway in Bellevue
The pedestrian access between the Vue 22 Apartments and Hyde Square Apartments (The Urbanist)

In Bellevue, the biggest and only projects seen in the past decade are two large apartment complexes. Completed in 2014 and 2017, the Vue 22 Apartments and Hyde Square Apartments are the newest buildings in Bellevue’s section of the station area. The two four-building apartment complexes account for 1,069 homes between them. The rest of Bellevue’s section of the station is the retail park to the southwest and older apartment buildings across SR 520. Zoning in these areas currently may not be sufficient to attract further development, similar to the issue discussed in the BelRed edition of East Link TOD.

In Redmond, the Esterra Park project is the station area’s equivalent of the Spring District and the Microsoft campus refresh. The main difference is the focus on residential development, an outcome of the neighborhood’s zoning that has resulted in around 2,600 homes in just that one master development plan, and that the project has actually been completed ahead of the station’s opening.

The zoning from that master plan also drove the 282 rooms across two hotels, a 246,500 square foot office building, a three-acre park, street-level retail space, and what’s likely over 3,000 parking stalls also found across the megaproject. A 288-unit mixed-use Moderna Redmond is the only other recent completion in Redmond.

Even as Esterra Park boomed, it could that be Redmond’s moves to increase developer fees and requirements took the wind out of Overlake’s sails a bit.

Back in December 2022, The Urbanist reported that a half dozen developers turned out at a Redmond Planning Commission meeting to lodge their complaints against a code update planned as part of the Redmond 2050 comprehensive plan, which aimed to increase inclusionary zoning requirements (already at 10%), mandate deeply decarbonized buildings, and push through a proposed “bridge” amendment that raised the possibility of regulation changes happening on a fast timeline — hitting projects already far along in the pipeline. At the time, Jessica Clawson, a land use attorney with McCullough Hill Leary who represents the Overlake applicants, warned that development could dry up if the City did not adjust plans.

“[The changes] result in 2,500 units in Overlake currently planned not being developed,” Clawson told the planning commission. “The loss of units will deepen the housing shortage. Redmond loses the roads, the trails, the bike lanes, the sidewalks, and the utilities these projects provide to the city as part of their development.”

Between Avalon Esterra Park and AVA Esterra Park
Esterra Park from Calder Ave NE (The Urbanist)

It was enough to give the City pause and slow the changes, but the next phase of development still seems a bit slow to come, perhaps as developers wait to see what Redmond 2050 will bring, whether new zoning opportunities or regulatory headaches.

Overlake stands out among the 2 Line station areas with no projects actively under construction, though that doesn’t mean there’s permit inactivity. Like its peers, plenty of work is underway to continue the neighborhood’s buildout. Though it is all happening in just Redmond right now.

The two largest projects underway in the neighborhood are at the Seritage Place and Overlake East project sites. The Overlake East project at 15230 NE 24th Street is the most straightforward, as a three-phased residential project (or residential plus one office building project). The first two phases are in permitting with three eight-story mixed-use buildings with 798 units, 13,300 square feet of ground floor commercial space, and 717 parking stalls between them. Phase three is murkier right now, but it’s between an eight-story 276,000 square foot office building or a residential building with around 290 units. Parking for that last phase can probably be assumed to be between 200-300 stalls.

A 2018 rendering of Seritage Place (Seritage Growth Properties)

Seritage Place’s Master Development Plan (MDP), as adopted by the City of Redmond, is broken up into seven parcels. If completed, it’ll contain up to 500 residential units, a 210-room hotel, 100,100 square feet of retail space, 23,000 square feet for market/food retail, 266,800 square feet for offices, 62,7000 square feet for restaurants, 2.1 acres of park, and 2,245 parking stalls.

Parcel A is the only phase of the project that has seen permitting, and it is unsurprising that it’s the parcel with all the housing discussed in the MDP. “Up to 500 units” has translated into a permit for 443 units and 604 parking stalls. Daily Journal of Commerce also reported only 29,000 square feet of commercial space had made it into that permitting, half of the nearly 58,000 square foot first imagined in the MDP for Parcel A. Work on that permit has also seemingly stalled with Seritage applying for a modification to the MDP in 2023.

There are no small projects underway in Overlake, let’s review the rest of apartment complexes ranging from mega to merely big.

  • 2956 152nd Ave NE – Alexan Overlake
    • Two residential buildings with 831 units and 718 parking stalls
    • 2989 Da Vinci Ave NE – Bellwether Overlake Apartments
      • Six-story, 333-unit affordable mixed-use building with ground floor commercial space and 113 parking stalls
  • 2425 152nd Ave NE
    • Eight-story, approximately 500-unit mixed-use building with ground floor retail, parking currently unknown
  • 15424 Bel-Red Rd – Pixel Apartments
    • Seven-story, 179-unit mixed-use building with 500 square feet of ground floor retail and 107 parking stalls
  • 15075 NE 24th St – Stream Overlake
    • Eight-story, 220-unit mixed-use building with five live-work units, 4,767 square feet of ground floor commercial, and 183 parking stalls.
  • 15171 NE 24th St – Overlake Square
  • Eight-story, 569-unit mixed-use building with 6,252 square feet of commercial space, and 486 parking stalls
  • 2233 Bel-Red Rd – Modera Bel-Red
    • Eight-story, 424-unit apartment building with 411 parking stalls
  • 2120 152nd Ave NE
    • Eight-story, 230-unit mixed-use building with three live-work units, ground floor commercial, and 100 parking stalls.

Counting it all up and Overlake going forward

Altogether, Overlake is seeing an emphasis on housing, with more than 8,000 residential units either having been completed in the station area in the past decade or currently in development, roughly half done or in construction and the other half still in planning and permitting. Commercial space could reach three quarters of a million square feet if all permits follow through or just 250,000 if most proposals dry up or switch to residential. Parking, built or in permitting, is likely around 9,000 to 10,000 stalls.

This growth is being primed to accelerate with the 20-year comprehensive plans happening in both Bellevue and Redmond. Bellevue’s preferred growth alternative could place high-rise zoning (H-1) and expand midrise (MU-M) potential in the Overlake Station area. Redmond planning appears to consolidate zoning in the station area into a special “OV” zone that would allow 300-foot-tall towers. A skyline on BelRed Road may be on the horizon if the cities get the mix of zoning and incentives right.

East Link TOD Series: As Sound Transit prepares to launch the East Link Starter Line on April 27, The Urbanist is going station-by-station to look at transit-oriented development (TOD) via our “East Link TOD” series. Back in 2022, we warned that some East Link neighborhoods were squandering their TOD opportunities, but there are a few success stories, too, like Downtown Bellevue and the Spring District, our first two installments. BelRed was lagging behind, but it catching up.

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The Urbanist staff occasionally teams up to cover breaking news or tackle large projects. See more about our team on the staff page.