Schools plan future around expected growth

December 17, 2013

Officials are hoping to break ground on the new Issaquah Middle School next summer, and the replacement building will look much different than what was first envisioned.

The city of Issaquah’s 30-year plan for its central business district is expected to add more than 7,700 residential units, and it’s forcing the Issaquah School District to think more about long-term impacts to its facilities.

Steve Crawford, the district’s director of capital projects, told school board members Dec. 11 that if downtown Issaquah grows as projected in the Central Issaquah Plan in the next three decades, it would add an estimated 2,850 students to the school district’s enrollment. That represents a 15 percent increase over the district’s current population of 18,400 students.

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Mary Lou Pauly sets sights on social first term

December 10, 2013

New Issaquah City Councilwoman Mary Lou Pauly wants to connect with the community.

After Pauly won an uncontested election last month, Mayor Ava Frisinger swore her into office during the Dec. 2 regular council meeting.

Though she knew she would not have an opponent in the election, Pauly took the opportunity to introduce herself to the citizens of Issaquah.

Mary Lou Pauly

Mary Lou Pauly

“I went out doorbelling,” she said, thanking the kindness of strangers for helping her shake off slight nervousness. “After one doorbell and one friendly face, it was wonderful.”

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Gilman Square redevelopment plan raises retail worries

November 19, 2013

Requiring retail development might be discussed in the Central Issaquah Plan’s first progress report.

Still in the beginning phases, the redevelopment of Gilman Square into three five-story residential buildings has raised questions on the City Council due to the plan’s lack of retail space.

Though the city asked several times for developer Lennar Multifamily Investors to allow for bottom-floor retail space, Lennar declined, opting to proceed with its vision to build 340 new residences on the site.

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Gilman Square plan could add 340 residences

October 22, 2013

Contributed This architectural drawing shows the three building proposed for a redeveloped Gilman Square.

This architectural drawing shows the three building proposed for a redeveloped Gilman Square.

A pre-application for three five-story buildings at Gilman Square could mark the first test of the Central Issaquah Plan.

Developer Lennar Multifamily Investors wishes to turn the 6.7-acre site, the home of Lombardi’s Restaurant until it shut its doors in July, into a large residential location. They entered talks with the city in September before submitting a pre-application in early October.

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Friendly setting finds few feuds between mayoral candidates

October 22, 2013

Mayoral candidates City Council President Fred Butler and City Councilman Joe Forkner restated major themes in a largely agreeable forum Oct. 17.

In one-minute answers, both candidates stuck to their agendas, which remain fairly similar.

“When I retired form Seattle City Light as their chief engineer, I decided to devote myself to public service,” Butler said during his opening statements. “I believe in sustainability. All decisions need to take in the three legs of sustainability: people, planet and prosperity.”

By Greg Farrar Fred Butler (left) and Joe Forkner conclude their mayoral candidate forum Oct. 17 with a handshake and some laughter.

By Greg Farrar
Fred Butler (left) and Joe Forkner conclude their mayoral candidate forum Oct. 17 with a handshake and some laughter.

Forkner took the insider’s approach, citing his years of work within city government and as a board volunteer.

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Speakers raise South Cove concerns at Transportation Improvement Program hearing

July 2, 2013

Thirty-five projects were on display at a June 17 public hearing to discuss the six-year Transportation Improvement Program.

Improvements to Northwest Lake Sammamish Road garnered all of the public comment as residents around South Cove asked for higher priority for pedestrians.

Road widening, intersection improvement and pedestrian corridors are included. The projects are staggered through 2019. The total cost of the projects is estimated at more than $384 million.

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Approved standards could mean 10-story buildings

April 23, 2013

The vision established in the Central Issaquah Plan last year officially took the first steps toward realization April 15 as the City Council approved design and development standards for future development.

The many standards passed include key provisions, such as reduced minimum parking requirements, new community space stipulations and a focus on density that allows buildings up to 125 feet in certain areas. The document has 17 chapters of comprehensive rules and regulations.

“This is a big deal,” Economic Development Director Keith Niven said. “In December, the council passed the Central Issaquah Plan, which was the vision. This is the implementation piece. This is how you make it happen. This allows developers to submit applications and pursue redevelopment based on the new standards.”

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Council sets workshop for Central Issaquah Plan

February 12, 2013

Months after the City Council adopted the Central Issaquah Plan, members intend to delve into the redevelopment blueprint again to refine important development rules.

The council plans to meet Feb. 20 for a public workshop to discuss design and development standards, or the rules for buildings, community spaces, landscaping, signage and more. City staffers intend to answer the council’s questions as members prepare to sign off on the last outstanding Central Issaquah Plan piece.

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City Council workshop

  • Agenda: Central Issaquah Plan design and development standards
  • 6 p.m. Feb. 20
  • Eagle Room, City Hall
  • 130 E. Sunset Way

That piece is scheduled to reach the council for consideration and possible adoption April 1.

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Issaquah planners envision opportunity in business district redevelopment

February 12, 2013

Issaquah leaders, planners and residents spent years on a blueprint to define redevelopment in the business district over the next few decades.

The guidelines approved late last year in the Central Issaquah Plan aim to transform about 1,000 acres along Interstate 90 from strip mall suburbia into a dense urban core in the next 30 years. The plan also increased the building height limit to 125 feet in the commercial core, up from 65 feet.

The change is meant to attract businesses and residents to mixed-use development.

“To some extent, if you build it, they will come — if it looks good and feels good,” said Mary Newsom, associate director, urban and regional affairs, at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and a former columnist for The Charlotte Observer.

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Joe Forkner enters race for Issaquah mayor

February 5, 2013

Less than a week after rejoining the City Council, longtime community leader and seasoned Councilman Joe Forkner entered the race for mayor Feb. 4.

Joe Forkner

Joe Forkner

The announcement set up a contest between Forkner and a colleague, Council President Fred Butler. The councilmen hope to lead the city once Mayor Ava Frisinger steps down in January 2014 after 16 years in the top job at City Hall.

Forkner, 59, worked for the city in the past and served on the council in recent stints — from 2000 to 2005, and to fill a vacancy from September 2006 to late 2007. The latest appointment, a 10-month stint approved Jan. 29 in a 4-2 decision, caps a busy period after Forkner led the citizen panel responsible for outlining redevelopment in the business district.

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