City Council nixes Park Pointe committee as deal nears finish

January 18, 2011

City Council members decided to eliminate the committee responsible for the Park Pointe preservation deal as the council updated the way members conduct business.

The council nixed the Major Planning & Growth Committee and redistributed the responsibilities of the former group Jan. 3. The group handled agreements related to the proposed transfer of development rights between forested Park Pointe on Tiger Mountain and the Issaquah Highlands. The proposal is on track to be completed in the months ahead.

“This last year, there was an awful lot of major activity with the TDR and with the Central Issaquah Plan,” Council President John Traeger said. “This year, we’re down to the Central Issaquah Plan and it’s kind of in autopilot mode. It’s working on its own timeline now.” Read more

Highlands residents protest plan to preserve Tiger Mountain

August 24, 2010

Despite opposition from Issaquah Highlands residents, City Council members decided last week to take steps to add more residences to the community and breathe life into the moribund effort to bring businesses to the hillside neighborhood.

City leaders intend to allow up to 550 more residences in the highlands in order to preserve 102 forested acres on Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School. The deal, part of a complicated transfer of development rights, aims to set aside about 140 acres — the Park Pointe land and another 43 acres adjacent to the highlands.

The council OK’d the measures in a unanimous decision after members offered a forceful defense of the plan to preserve Park Pointe.

Port Blakely Communities, the developer responsible for the highlands, owns 78 acres in unincorporated King County near Central Park. The proposed transfer calls for Port Blakely to preserve 43 acres and open the remaining 35 acres to construction. The city then intends to annex the 35-acre parcel.

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Preservation plan inches ahead, despite outcry from highlands residents

August 17, 2010

NEW — 10 a.m. Aug. 17, 2010

Despite opposition from Issaquah Highlands residents, City Council members decided Monday night to take steps to add more residences to the community and breathe life into the moribund effort to bring businesses to the hillside neighborhood.

City leaders intend to allow up to 550 more residences in the highlands in order to preserve 102 forested acres on Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School. The deal, a complicated transfer of development rights, aims to preserve about 140 forested acres — the Park Pointe land and another 43 acres adjacent to the highlands.

The council OK’d the measures in a unanimous decision after members offered a forceful defense of the plan to preserve Park Pointe.

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Highlands developer hires consultant for commercial growth

June 1, 2010

Grocery store delayed again

Issaquah Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities has hired a Seattle real-estate consultant to help jumpstart commercial development in the hillside community.

Heartland, the consultant, will help guide Port Blakely in the tough economy, and help the developer in the hunt for a partner to develop a planned town center of businesses and residences along Highlands Drive Northeast.

“Port Blakely hired Heartland to help give them some new strategic direction,” John Shaw, a director at Heartland, told City Council members last week.

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Committee delves into long-term growth plans Monday

May 23, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. May 23, 2010

City Council members will receive updates Monday on commercial development in the Issaquah Highlands, a plan to re-envision the city’s commercial core and a proposal to redevelop high-profile property.

Council Major Planning & Growth Committee members meet 5 p.m. Monday in the Eagle Room at City Hall, 130 E. Sunset Way.

The committee will discuss the slice of growth-related goals for 2011 set by the full council in early May.

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Issaquah eyed as a regional growth center

May 18, 2010

Designation could attract funds for mass transit

Leaders hope to attract dollars for transportation and mass transit to Issaquah by pitching a slice of the city as a regional hub for residences and jobs.

The effort will focus on the 915-acre commercial area spread along Interstate 90 and state Route 900. Planners hope the process will dovetail with the Central Issaquah Plan, a yearlong effort to chart redevelopment in the commercial core.

The long-term growth blueprint for the Puget Sound region calls for areas designated as regional growth centers. The designation helps officials plan regional transportation infrastructure and determine the best sites for economic development. The centers also receive higher priority for state and federal funding in order to connect the regional hubs.

The initial step calls for city planners to determine if Issaquah meets the growth center criteria laid out by the Puget Sound Regional Council — the planning authority for King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties. The agency distributes about $160 million per year in federal funding for transportation projects.

City Planning Director Mark Hinthorne said the Central Issaquah Plan effort fits well with the growth center designation. The task force drafting the plan should deliver a report to city leaders by September.

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City works to preserve Tiger Mountain land

May 11, 2010

The long process to preserve the Park Pointe property inched forward last week, as the City Council agreed to initiate the complicated steps to preserve the Tiger Mountain land and, in exchange, allow more residences in the Issaquah Highlands.

Mayor Ava Frisinger proposed the transfer of development rights in September 2008. The recent bankruptcy of the developer behind Park Pointe and subsequent foreclosure on the property by a Seattle bank presented city leaders with the latest opportunity to complete the exchange.

If city officials and landowners can pull off the proposed transfer of development rights, about 140 forested acres will be preserved — 102 acres at the Park Pointe site near Issaquah High School and another 43 acres adjacent to the highlands.

Before the land can be set aside for conservation, however, officials must sign off on separate bills to initiate the transfer of development rights and amend the agreement with highlands developer Port Blakely Communities to address the undeveloped land near the hillside community. The amendment seeks to allow Port Blakely to build 500 additional residential units in a proposed highlands town center.

City Council members referred the dual measures to the Council Major Planning & Growth Committee. Members will discuss the legislation May 24.

“So, what we’ve done is try to develop a scenario that might work in a few different ways that could ultimately lead us to preserving 140-plus acres of open space that the community would see as being a benefit,” Keith Niven, program manager for the city Major Development Review Team, told council members May 3.

Port Blakely owns 78 acres near Central Park in the highlands. Under the existing zoning, the company could develop the unincorporated King County land as five-acre residential properties or for institutional uses, like a church or a school. Instead, Port Blakely offered some of the land for preservation, or as part of the transfer of development rights.

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City, Rowley may partner on redevelopment plan

March 30, 2010

City Council members will take a step April 5 to reshape almost 90 acres in the city’s commercial center. Read more

Learn about plan to redevelop almost 90 acres at Monday meeting

March 21, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. March 21, 2010

City Council members will take the initial step Monday to reshape almost 90 acres in the city’s commercial center.

Under a proposed development agreement headed to a council committee, longtime Issaquah developer Rowley Properties aims to partner with the city to redevelop about 87 acres to create mixed-use destinations.

Planners envision the area — now a string of low-slung offices and strip malls along busy thoroughfares — as a walkable town center possibly connected to a regional light rail network.

Council Major Planning & Growth Committee members will review the proposed agreement at 5 p.m. in the Eagle Room at City Hall, 130 E. Sunset Way.

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