City preserves Tiger Mountain forest in historic milestone

March 29, 2011

Park Pointe protection occurs after years long effort to stop proposed construction

By Dona Mokin

The long-running saga to preserve Park Pointe — a slice of Tiger Mountain forest near Issaquah High School — ended late March 24, after more than a decade of public and behind-the-scenes negotiations to halt construction of hundreds of houses once proposed for the land.

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

“I think that this will transform the community in a very, very positive way,” Mayor Ava Frisinger said, minutes after the deal closed. “It has the three elements of sustainability. It has the environment — the environmental protection and preservation. It has a huge social element. It has economic vitality benefits as well.”

The historic conservation effort is part of a complicated transfer of development rights.

City planners and officials shepherded the agreement through the arduous process after Frisinger outlined the landmark opportunity to preserve Park Pointe in late 2008.

In the years since, representatives from the city, highlands developer Port Blakely Communities and other partners pursued the project until the recession scuttled the developer behind the proposed Park Pointe development.

Since a Seattle bank foreclosed on the land from the defunct developer last March, the preservation effort lurched into gear. Issaquah and King County officials adopted a series of agreements late last year to advance the process.

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Council sees ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ in Park Pointe deal

March 22, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. March 22, 2011

The city is on the verge of preserving more than 100 forested acres on Tiger Mountain and in the Issaquah Highlands due to a series of agreements the City Council adopted Monday night.

In a landmark decision, the council agreed to accept ownership of the long-disputed Park Pointe property — 102 acres on Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School. The other agreements, described as housekeeping items by city leaders, cleared up access and boundary issues related to the highlands land.

Now, after years of negotiations, the complicated transfer of development rights to preserve Park Pointe and add more density to the highlands is almost complete. Read more

Issaquah tragedies, triumphs define a tumultuous year

December 28, 2010

Traffic lines up on state Route 900 at Northwest Talus Drive in February. State Department of Transportation crews completed the long-running project in 2010. By Greg Farrar

The economy lurched from the recession, population growth all but stalled and Issaquah — after cutbacks and setbacks in 2009 — defied the odds to reach major milestones throughout 2010.

Momentum returned in 2010 after a year spent in a holding pattern. Set against the backdrop of a fragile recovery, leaders cut the ribbon on businesses and roads, laid the foundation for preservation and construction, and marked tragedies and successes. Read more

Park Pointe preservation reaches ‘historic’ milestone

December 28, 2010

Leaders build framework to save Tiger Mountain land, build Bellevue College campus

In a series of decisions a councilman described as a “historic moment,” City Council members assembled the framework Dec. 20 to preserve more than 100 Tiger Mountain acres and attract a Bellevue College campus to Issaquah.

The council OK’d agreements related to the long-running effort to preserve 102 forested acres on Tiger Mountain and, through a complicated transfer of development rights, open land in the Issaquah Highlands to Bellevue College and homebuilders for construction. Read more

Park Pointe preservation reaches ‘historic’ milestone

December 21, 2010

NEW — 8 a.m. Dec. 21, 2010

In a series of decisions a councilman described as a “historic moment,” City Council members assembled the framework Monday to preserve more than 100 Tiger Mountain acres and attract a Bellevue College campus to Issaquah.

The council OK’d agreements related to the long-running effort to preserve 102 forested acres on Tiger Mountain and, through a complicated transfer of development rights, open land in the Issaquah Highlands to Bellevue College and homebuilders for construction.

“This is really a historic moment for the city,” Council President John Traeger said before the unanimous decisions.

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City Council opens highlands land to Bellevue College development

December 14, 2010

Park Pointe transfer of development rights

Bellevue College could construct a campus in the Issaquah Highlands and dozens of homes could be built nearby in the coming years due to a series of agreements the City Council approved Dec. 6.

The council directed city staffers to facilitate the sale of three parcels on 35 acres owned by highlands developer Port Blakely Communities. Revenue from the sales is then to be used to purchase Park Pointe — 102 forested acres on Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School.

If the complicated process – called a transfer of development rights — succeeds, the 102 acres and another 43 rural acres near the highlands should be preserved. In addition, the 35 acres under consideration could be developed.

The council selected Bellevue College and local homebuilders to develop the three highlands parcels.

Bellevue College Trustee Vicki Orrico said the process could take more than 20 years for the campus to be completed — if college administrators decide to buy the land in the highlands and construct a campus.

“We’re a community college,” she said. “Just what the name implies, we’re a college of the community, and that’s our intention in coming here. We plan to do a great deal of learning and listening to you about what you want.”

Bellevue College announced interest in a highlands site in August. The college is in the midst of a traffic study to gauge the impact of a potential campus in the neighborhood.

In October, the city started to solicit proposals from potential buyers for the parcels.

The sales should generate enough dollars to purchase Park Pointe. The city also aimed to select buyers based on a willingness to providing a “community benefit” — such as affordable housing or public spaces — as part of developing the parcels.

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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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Council seeks input on land swap, Issaquah Highlands changes

August 10, 2010

City leaders could allow 550 more residences to be built in the Issaquah Highlands in order to preserve a corner of Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School.

But before the deal can proceed, the City Council must agree to amend the longstanding development agreement between the city and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities.

Bring comments about the proposed change to a public hearing before the council Aug. 16.

The deal, a complicated transfer of development rights, aims to preserve about 140 forested acres — 102 acres at Park Pointe on Tiger Mountain and another 43 acres adjacent to the highlands.

Port Blakely owns 78 acres in unincorporated King County near Central Park. The proposed transfer calls for the developer to preserve 43 acres and allows dense construction on the remaining 35 acres. The city then intends to annex the 35-acre parcel. Read more

City, Port Blakely host another Park Pointe open house Wednesday

August 3, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Aug. 3, 2010

The city and Issaquah Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities plan another open house to discuss a proposal to preserve Tiger Mountain land and add residences to the highlands.

The open house offers residents a chance to study maps, ask questions about the proposal and offer input. The forum runs from 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Blakely Hall, 2550 N.E. Park Drive.

The transfer aims to prohibit development on about 140 forested acres — 102 acres at Park Pointe on Tiger Mountain and another 43 acres adjacent to the highlands — and, in exchange, allow 500 additional residences in the highlands.

The plan calls for Port Blakely to spend about $500,000 for transportation upgrades in the highlands, and build a mountain biking course in the neighborhood.

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Park Pointe development swap raises questions

July 27, 2010

Issaquah Highlands would absorb density

Issaquah Highlands residents raised questions last week about a proposed deal to preserve Tiger Mountain land near Issaquah High School and, in turn, allow more residences to be built in the highlands.

The city and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities hosted a July 28 open house about the proposed transfer of development rights — a long-running effort to keep the forested Park Pointe site undeveloped.

The open house — hosted at Blakely Hall by highlands visionary Judd Kirk and Keith Niven, city Major Development Review Team program manager — covered familiar territory.

The transfer aims to prohibit development on about 140 forested acres — 102 acres at Park Pointe and another 43 acres adjacent to the highlands. The deal aims to allow 500 additional residences in the highlands. The city hopes to complete the swap by December.

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