First Urban Park in Overlake Set to Open, Completing this neighborhood
“The park situated by Verde Esterra is incredible. It really brings the whole community together, as well as creates such a great vibe, especially when the sun is out,” said Mia van Wyk, a resident of Esterra Park.
Set for completion this summer, the Esterra Park development boasts 2,600 residential units, two hotels with 283 rooms combined, 25,000 square feet of retail, 250,000 square feet of office space, and a 2.67-acre park, all situated in Overlake. The master plan development began in 2009 and is part of Overlake becoming an urban center that promotes density, walkability, mixed-use facilities, and a transit-supported urban environment. Access to Esterra Park will continue to increase with the arrival of light rail nearby in the coming years.
"This will be the model of a complete neighborhood, where you can walk or bike to places that provide you access to with all of your daily needs."
- Carol Helland, Redmond Planning and Community Development Director
Building For All Through Partnerships
The community, which offers market rate and affordable housing options, was made possible through partnerships, beginning with Group Health, who sold the property in 2009 to Capstone Partners to initiate the project. Since then, numerous partners have been involved to make the vision a reality, explained Helland, including Inland Group, Imagine Housing, Redmond’s City Council, past and present city leadership, and Redmond city staff.
“Without the strong commitment to the vision that was developed in 2009, we wouldn't have had such a great project that we do today,” said Helland. “I'm really looking forward to seeing when it's all complete how this project just hums along and creates a real asset for the Redmond community.”
Residents who have moved into Esterra Park are appreciative of the approach taken.
“Real thought and effort have gone into the whole design and layout and the feeling you get is one of ‘home," said van Wyk. "I love the contemporary aesthetic, with all the little attention to detail from art to the use of light, as it all contributes to the collective.”
Inland Group joined the project in 2019 to help finish up the design, increase the number of affordable units, and then started construction of Capella at Esterra Park, explained John Fisher, a developer with Inland Group.
Capella offers varying levels of affordable housing and has numerous amenities on site, similar to a market rate building, including a business center and fitness room, along with amenities geared to families with children, such as a game room, play equipment, and an all-purpose room for kids. The building also houses a YMCA early learning center.
"The YMCA is open to anyone, not just residents at Capella."
- John Fisher, Inland Group Developer
“Having high-quality early childhood education and childcare there in the community of Esterra Park, along with the live-work model I think is super beneficial to families moving in there.”
Affordable housing requires specialized tax incentives and contributions from various government agencies to make it work, said Mike Hubbard, principal at Capstone Partners, the master developer for the project.
“Capella was developed through the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, which is a low-income housing tax credit program, and it provided the majority of the capital needed,” said Fisher. “Tax-exempt bonds, a lender for the tax-exempt bonds, ARCH, and the City of Redmond helped provide the additional funding.”
To meet the goal of housing stability for residents who may be moving into affordable housing from a difficult situation, onsite social services are provided to residents at Capella through Imagine Housing. These services include a range of support, such as life skills, community building, access to income-qualifying financial benefits, employment, and more.
“The biggest benefit to affordable housing at Esterra Park is being part of a community that is very well planned and a great location,” said Fisher. “I think having affordable housing integrated into a larger community, a true mixed-income community, is just beneficial for society, and that certainly is there at Esterra Park.”