City OKs buildings up to 125 feet tall in business district

December 25, 2012

Redevelopment plan calls for more than 7,000 residences

City leaders raised the building height limit to 125 feet in the business district and raised the stakes for redevelopment in the decades ahead.

The roadmap to redevelopment — a document called the Central Issaquah Plan — also creates a framework to add more than 7,000 residences on about 1,000 acres stretched along Interstate 90.

In a series of decisions reached Dec. 17 after years spent re-envisioning the business district, a relieved City Council adopted the Central Issaquah Plan, but delayed action on a key piece until at least April.

“It’s the right plan at the right time,” Councilman Fred Butler said. “It will not happen overnight, but when the time is right, we will be ready.”

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City Council could delay part of Central Issaquah Plan

December 12, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. Dec. 12, 2012

City leaders recommended Tuesday to delay the implementation of important development rules in a long-term plan to transform the business district from strip malls and parking lots to a dense urban hub.

In the last public meeting for the proposed Central Issaquah Plan before the document reaches the City Council for consideration, a council committee called for more time to refine and review the design and development standards outlined in the 30-year blueprint for redevelopment.

The design and development standards set rules for buildings, community spaces, landscaping, signage and more.

Overall, Council Land & Shore Committee members forwarded to the full council the four pieces of legislation to enact the Central Issaquah Plan. The full council is scheduled to consider the legislation and listen to public input Dec. 17.

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King County transfer of development rights program to conserve rural land

August 14, 2012

King County and Seattle leaders unveiled a land-use program July 24 similar to the successful Issaquah program used to conserve the Park Pointe site on Tiger Mountain.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said the program is meant to improve infrastructure in Seattle and preserve 25,000 acres of forests and farmland in rural areas.

The Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program is the result of collaboration among the city and county, and the nonprofit organization Forterra. The program enables cities to access a portion of King County’s property tax increment resulting from development if a certain percentage of development results from the use of transferable development rights, or TDRs.

The program is similar to the transfer of development rights used by Issaquah officials to prevent development on forested Park Pointe, a slice of Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School.

Under the agreement approved in March 2011, city leaders steered construction from Park Pointe to the Issaquah Highlands instead, and, as a result, preserved more than 140 acres in the process.

King County announces program to conserve rural land

July 25, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. July 25, 2012

King County and Seattle leaders unveiled a land-use program Tuesday similar to the successful Issaquah program used to conserve the Park Pointe site on Tiger Mountain.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said the program is meant to improve infrastructure in South Lake Union and preserve 25,000 acres of forests and farmland in rural areas.

“This is the definition of win-win,” McGinn said in a statement. “We will continue to concentrate growth in our urban neighborhoods, where the jobs are and where people want to live and work. In return we will receive important benefits for the city and permanently secure more rural areas as forests and working farms.”

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Offer input on Central Issaquah Plan for business district

July 10, 2012

The historic proposal to transform more than 900 acres near Interstate 90 and state Route 900 in the decades ahead is a step closer to implementation, but before city leaders act on the plan, citizens can comment on the bid.

The long-term Central Issaquah Plan is meant to guide redevelopment from shopping centers and low-rise office buildings to a taller neighborhood meant for businesses and residences.

Before the proposal reaches the City Council for discussion and possible implementation, citizens can comment July 12 at a public hearing hosted by the Planning Policy Commission.

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Issaquah receives assistance to plan for long-term growth

July 3, 2012

Issaquah is receiving technical assistance to plan for long-term growth, through a program at a nonprofit organization and a federal grant.

Forterra, the former Cascade Land Conservancy, announced the technical assistance for Issaquah and other Washington communities June 6.

The grant comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program — a nationwide program to boost communities’ economic and environmental health.

Issaquah officials intend to use the technical assistance from Forterra to work on the Central Issaquah Plan — a proposal to transform more than 900 acres near Interstate 90 and state Route 900. City leaders intend to increase density and the mix of uses in the area, make the area more pedestrian-friendly and preserve open space.

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King County task force to examine future funding for parks

June 27, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. June 27, 2012

King County Executive Dow Constantine appointed 20 business and community leaders Tuesday to devise future funding plans for King County Parks before the levies supporting the parks system expire next year.

In 2007, voters overwhelmingly approved a pair of six-year levies to support county-run parks and trails. The measures expire Dec. 31, 2013.

Constantine asked the King County Parks Levy Task Force to recommend a funding plan for 2014 and beyond. The group is expected to submit a plan by late September.

“Parks, trails and open space are part of what make King County a great place to live,” Constantine said in a statement. “I have asked the task force to map a course that keeps our parks open and continues to build the system for future generations.”

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Issaquah receives assistance to plan for long-term growth

June 9, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. June 9, 2012

Issaquah is receiving technical assistance to plan for long-term growth, through to a program at a nonprofit organization and a federal grant.

Forterra, the former Cascade Land Conservancy, announced the technical assistance for Issaquah and other Washington communities Wednesday. The grant comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program — a nationwide program to boost communities’ economic and environmental health.

Issaquah officials intend to use the technical assistance from Forterra to work on the Central Issaquah Plan — a proposal to transform more than 900 acres near Interstate 90 and state Route 900. Planners intend to increase density and the mix of uses in the area, make the area more pedestrian-friendly and preserve open space.

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Conservationists laud Issaquah land-preservation deal

January 10, 2012

Forterra, the former Cascade Land Conservancy, lauded local efforts to preserve open space in a 2011 roundup of land conservation efforts throughout the region.

Overall, Forterra contributed to efforts to preserve almost 5,000 acres of forests, farmlands and natural areas last year. The nonprofit organization recognized Issaquah for a successful transfer of development rights program.

The long-running effort to preserve Park Pointe — a slice of Tiger Mountain forest near Issaquah High School — ended in March 2011, after more than a decade of public and behind-the-scenes negotiations to halt construction of hundreds of houses once proposed for the land.

Under the agreement, officials instead steered development from the Park Pointe site to land in the Issaquah Highlands.

Issaquah is a Cascade Agenda Leadership City — a long-range planning effort from Forterra meant to reduce unchecked growth and encourage denser development in the region. The program includes 18 cities throughout the Puget Sound region.

In landmark decision, buildings up to 150 feet in business district OK’d

December 27, 2011

Rowley Properties could someday build tall buildings on 78 acres in the business district, as shown in the rendering above. Contributed

Rowley Properties plans to redevelop land in decades ahead

Tall buildings could someday punctuate the skyline in the modest business district along state Route 900, after city leaders created a framework Dec. 19 to transform acre upon acre blanketed in storage units, low-slung office buildings and automotive service centers into a dense neighborhood for shops and homes.

In a landmark decision, City Council members approved a 30-year agreement between the city and longtime Issaquah developer Rowley Properties to overhaul almost 80 acres in the coming decades. The council agreed to allow buildings up to 150 feet tall and mixed-use development on up to 4.4 million square feet in Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center — parcels along Interstate 90 and state Route 900.

The landowner, in turn, is required to pay for transportation upgrades, affordable housing construction, Tibbetts Creek restoration efforts and storm-water system improvements.

Leaders said the potential for change in Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center offers a rare opportunity to reshape Issaquah as the city readjusts after a decadelong population boom.

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