Habitat, city break ground for new highlands development

June 16, 2009

By Warren Kagarise
Meet the Taltons, a family of five that will soon be residents of the Issaquah Highlands.
Alissa Talton had no idea she would be moving to the hillside community until three weeks ago, when Habitat for Humanity officials surprised her at her parents’ Carnation home. Habitat officials presented Talton with a balloon and said her family had been chosen to live in a planned Issaquah Highlands development — the first Habitat houses to be built in Issaquah in 15 years. Talton was speechless. Her husband, a deployed Navy reservist, watched the event unfold over the messaging service Skype.
“I started crying and shaking,” Alissa Talton recalled. “I was so excited.”
She joined city officials and Habitat for Humanity of East King County representatives June 11 to break ground for the new development, five duplexes that will house 10 families. The late afternoon groundbreaking was ceremonial; volunteers will start construction at the site next month.
Tom Granger, executive director of the local Habitat branch, lauded city officials and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities for supporting the project. Habitat purchased the land with help from the city, Port Blakely and A Regional Coalition for Housing, an organization of Eastside cities and King County that works to increase the supply of affordable housing.
“This is an opportunity we’ve been talking about for a long time,” Granger said.
He credited the city and Port Blakely for taking steps to increase the availability of affordable housing.
“I have felt nothing but welcome since the first time we discussed this project,” he said.
Volunteers will construct five duplexes along a stretch of Northeast Magnolia Street near Northeast Logan Street. On a clear day, the Olympic Mountains are visible from the site.
“The view from here is absolutely magnificent,” Granger said. “We have God to thank for that.”
Construction will take place in two phases. Residents are set to move into the first houses early next year. Habitat officials plan to complete the project by 2012.
The homes will range from 1,000 to 1,400 square feet, and from two to four bedrooms. Volunteers will complete 90 percent of the labor. Families in the Habitat program are required to contribute 500 hours of sweat equity toward their new homes.
Mayor Ava Frisinger said Habitat would find many volunteers in Issaquah. She talked with members of several Issaquah churches, who said they were interested in contributing to the construction effort.
“There are an awful lot of people who want to come up here and build houses,” Frisinger said.
Talton said she and her family are ready to volunteer. Her husband, Mikel, is a Navy reservist stationed in the United Arab Emirates. Her husband left for his deployment in January. Talton and her three children — Mikayla, 14, Hayleigh, 3, and Isaiah, 2 — have been living with her parents in Carnation.
Talton said she looks forward to the stability of owning her own home. She said living in Issaquah appeals to her because her family lives in the area as well.
“I know my kids will grow up here,” she said.
Habitat homeowners are chosen based on their need and ability to pay the mortgage. They earn $20,400 to $40,700 — less than half of the 2008 King County median income for a family of four. To earn their homes, they must contribute the volunteer hours by working on their house or another Habitat property. Homeowners are required to live or work in King County for at least a year.
Habitat homes are sold at cost — about $100,000. Homeowners repay no-interest loans and Habitat retains ownership of the land.
Lola Reyes visited the development site two nights before the groundbreaking ceremony. She said she looks forward to moving with her two sons from Bellevue to the highlands.
“Everything is beautiful,” she said. “It’s a very clean, family-oriented, safe area.”
Reyes learned her family had been selected to live in the development via a letter from Habitat officials. When she plucked the letter from her post office box, she said she steeled herself for the worst.
Exhausted from moving the day before, Reyes was ready to toss the bad news into a nearby recycling bin. She could not believe her good fortune as she began to read the letter.
“It was like hitting the Lotto,” she said.
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.
Alissa Talton and daughter Hayleigh (center), 3, whose husband and father is deployed in the United Arab Emirates, are surrounded by officials from Port Blakely, Habitat for Humanity and city and state officials June 11 as they turn over the first shovels of dirt at the Issaquah Highlands home site. By Greg Farrar

Alissa Talton and daughter Hayleigh (center), 3, whose husband and father is deployed in the United Arab Emirates, are surrounded by officials from Port Blakely, Habitat for Humanity and city and state officials June 11 as they turn over the first shovels of dirt at the Issaquah Highlands home site. By Greg Farrar

Meet the Taltons, a family of five that will soon be residents of the Issaquah Highlands.

Alissa Talton had no idea she would be moving to the hillside community until three weeks ago, when Habitat for Humanity officials surprised her at her parents’ Carnation home. Habitat officials presented Talton with a balloon and said her family had been chosen to live in a planned Issaquah Highlands development — the first Habitat houses to be built in Issaquah in 15 years. Talton was speechless. Her husband, a deployed Navy reservist, watched the event unfold over the messaging service Skype.

“I started crying and shaking,” Alissa Talton recalled. “I was so excited.”

She joined city officials and Habitat for Humanity of East King County representatives June 11 to break ground for the new development, five duplexes that will house 10 families. The late afternoon groundbreaking was ceremonial; volunteers will start construction at the site next month.

Tom Granger, executive director of the local Habitat branch, lauded city officials and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities for supporting the project. Habitat purchased the land with help from the city, Port Blakely and A Regional Coalition for Housing, an organization of Eastside cities and King County that works to increase the supply of affordable housing. Read more

Issaquah, agencies and developers share award

June 6, 2009

NEW — 6 a.m. June 6, 2009

Issaquah officials and several partner organizations received a Governor’s Smart Communities Award, officials announced Thursday.

Officials were honored for efforts to encourage transit-oriented development near the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride.

The Smart Partnerships Award recognizes the development and assignment agreements for the YWCA’s 146-unit affordable housing project, as well as the proposed zHome development of 10 zero net-energy townhouses.

Read more

Habitat for Humanity breaks ground June 11

June 2, 2009

Habitat for Humanity of East King County will build five duplexes in the Issaquah Highlands. Architect’s rendering by RO2 Design Studio

Habitat for Humanity of East King County will build five duplexes in the Issaquah Highlands. Architect’s rendering by RO2 Design Studio

Affordable houses for 10 families will begin to rise in the Issaquah Highlands in the next several months, local Habitat for Humanity officials said last week.

Habitat officials and volunteers will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking June 11 to kick off construction of five duplexes near the intersection of Northeast Magnolia Street and Northeast Logan Street.

Habitat for Humanity of East King County volunteers will build the houses on nearly an acre of land, which Habitat purchased with help from the city, highlands developer Port Blakely Communities and A Regional Coalition for Housing, an organization of Eastside cities and King County that works to increase the supply of affordable housing. Read more

Highlands housing auction attracts thousands of bargain hunters

December 5, 2008

NEW — 9:22 p.m. Dec. 5, 2008

Imagine buying a brand new home in Issaquah for $89,000.

It is a price from a bygone era. Now, however, that same figure is the minimum bid for five new condominiums in the Issaquah Highlands that builder D.R. Horton will auction Dec. 7.

There are 18 units available in total, all in the Ashford condominiums at the Vista Park complex on 10th Avenue Northeast and Northeast High Street. Depending on size, starting bids for the others range from $99,000 to $129,000. At the $89,000 end, you get 580 square feet; for $129,000, you can stretch out in 1,059 square feet. Read more

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