City, Rowley Properties agree to redevelop almost 90 acres

April 13, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

The long-planned effort to redevelop a swath near state Route 900 and Interstate 90 inched ahead last week, when the City Council inked a pact with a longtime Issaquah developer.

The council approved a development agreement with Rowley Properties in a unanimous decision. The legislation approved April 5 calls for the pact to be completed within a year.

The agreement enables the city and the developer to re-envision Hyla Crossing — about 62 acres arranged in a rough triangle and wedged between the interstate and the base of Cougar Mountain — and Rowley Center — about 26 acres bordered by Northwest Maple Street, 12th Avenue Northwest, Northwest Gilman Boulevard and state Route 900.

Planners could spend up to $750,000 to complete the development agreement. The total includes money for community outreach. Rowley Properties will reimburse the city for the time city staff devotes to the project, and for consultant fees.

The development agreement could result in a plan for taller buildings, residences and better mass transit on land now occupied by low-slung offices, automotive services and acres of self-storage units.

Combined, the properties account for 7.1 percent of the land in Central Issaquah, the commercial core of the city.

Mayor Ava Frisinger appointed a 12-member task force last year to set guidelines for development in the area — spread across 915 acres along the interstate.

Plans call for the Central Issaquah Area Task Force to deliver recommendations for the entire commercial core by September. The panel could determine how land in the designated area should be used, and then task the city Planning Policy Commission with determining the finer details.

Planners hope the council will review the plan by mid- to late 2011. The city aims to implement the plan by 2012.

Before the council OK’d the pact, Councilman Tola Marts asked if the plans associated with the development agreement could outpace the effort to re-envision the commercial center.

City Planning Director Mark Hinthorne said the agreement could, in fact, offer important lessons about redevelopment in the area.

Officials announced the proposed development in early January, and said the city agreed to partner with Rowley Properties because the company had weathered the recession better than other developers.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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