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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Seattle bank forecloses on Park Pointe

March 16, 2010

A Seattle bank foreclosed on the developer behind Park Pointe last week, and took control of the Tiger Mountain land near Issaquah High School where the developer wanted to build hundreds of residences.

Meanwhile, a federal judge dismissed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case tied to the developer, Wellington Park Pointe LLC.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Karen Overstreet dismissed the case after attorneys for the developer withdrew a plan to finance and build Park Pointe. Court documents dated March 3 allowed Regal Financial Bank to proceed with the foreclosure.

“The parties wish to avoid incurring additional attorneys fees, in what has been a very expensive matter, and what in all likelihood would be a very expensive trial,” the documents state.

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City intends to preserve Park Pointe regardless of ownership

March 2, 2010

The developer behind the stalled Park Pointe project and a Seattle bank cancelled a hearing in bankruptcy court last week, as the case appears to near a coda. Read more

Developer: Park Pointe could break ground in 2011

December 22, 2009

The developer behind Park Pointe said ground could be broken for the embattled Tiger Mountain residential project as early as a year after it emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy hearings. But city officials, accustomed to long delays related to Park Pointe, described the timeline as ambitious. Read more

Park Pointe stalled again as developer files for Chapter 11

November 6, 2009

NEW — 11:05 a.m. Nov. 6, 2009

The developer behind the troubled Park Pointe project filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, just before the Tiger Mountain land where the development would rise headed to a foreclosure auction.

The project developer, Wellington Park Pointe LLC, filed for bankruptcy protection Monday as the company worked to restructure a loan from Regal Financial Bank. The developer failed to make payments on a loan from the Seattle-based bank and in June defaulted on nearly $12 million. Wellington held $29 million in assets but owes about $15 million, court filings show. The filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tacoma halted the foreclosure auction planned for today at the King County Administration Building.

Park Pointe developers envisioned hundreds of homes on 67 forested acres on the west slope of Tiger Mountain, behind Issaquah High School. Developers proposed Park Pointe in the mid-1990s, but the project withered amid community opposition, zoning changes and a tough construction climate.

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Park Pointe goes to auction Friday

November 3, 2009

The proposed Park Pointe development would be built on 67 acres near Issaquah High School, but the project is in limbo as the land heads to auction Nov. 6. Source: city of Issaquah

The proposed Park Pointe development would be built on 67 acres near Issaquah High School, but the project is in limbo as the land heads to auction Nov. 6. Source: city of Issaquah

City planners detailed last week how the long-planned Park Pointe project could impact Tiger Mountain views, wetlands and wildlife. But the information could be useless because the land where Park Pointe would be built heads to auction Nov. 6.

The project developer, Wellington Park Pointe LLC, failed to make payments on a loan from Regal Financial Bank and in June defaulted on nearly $12 million owed. Developers envisioned hundreds of homes on 67 forested acres on the west slope of Tiger Mountain, behind Issaquah High School.

City planners released the long-awaited environmental impact statement for the project last week. The timing carries a particular irony: The final environmental impact statement for Park Pointe was released Oct. 30 — a week before the land heads to auction.

Meanwhile, city officials hope to smooth the way toward a development-rights transfer to keep the Park Pointe site undeveloped. The transfer of development rights between the Park Pointe developer and Issaquah Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities would leave Park Pointe undeveloped; additional houses would be built in the highlands instead.

Major Development Review Team Manager Keith Niven said city officials still want the development-rights deal to materialize. He said city officials entered discussions with developers to gauge interest in the Park Pointe site and a transfer of the development rights. Read more

Park Pointe parcel heads to auction block

August 25, 2009

Housing developer defaults on loan

A parcel of land on the lower west slopes of Tiger Mountain known as Park Pointe development will be auctioned Nov. 6, county documents state. Read more

Developer defaults on $11.5 million loan

June 16, 2009

By Warren Kagarise
Wellington Park Pointe LLC — developer of the planned Park Pointe community — has failed to make payments on a loan and defaulted on nearly $11.6 million. A default notice issued June 11 said Wellington did not meet payment deadlines for the loan.
Wellington executives have 30 days to respond to the notice from the lender. If developers are unable to reach an agreement with Regal Financial Bank, the land could be sold at public auction in as few as 120 days.
Park Pointe developers proposed building hundreds of homes on 67 acres of Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School. But development has been slowed for years by changes to the project design, as well as protests about the impact Park Pointe would have on traffic and the environment.
Mayor Ava Frisinger said it would be inappropriate and possibly counterproductive for city officials to discuss the default notice. Frisinger said Wellington could reach an agreement with the lender before the deadline.
“Lenders and borrowers oftentimes resolve their differences well before default sales,” she said.
Meanwhile, environmental consultants and city planners are in the midst of the final environmental impact statement on the Park Pointe proposal. The statement is required before developers can apply for city permits.
City Environmental Planner Peter Rosen said city staffers were informed about the default notice a few days after the document was issued. He said consultants and planners have continued to work on the environmental impact statement.
Wellington paid about $125,000 to hire consultants to prepare the statement, Rosen said. Part of the process requires consultants to answer questions posed by residents in the draft environmental impact statement, released in January. Planners expected the final statement to be ready by August.
Rosen said Wellington could halt the final statement, but the move would be unusual. He said developers would be at a disadvantage if they intended to revive the project in the future. Time-sensitive portions of the statement — such as traffic studies — would have to be redone.
Wellington Vice President Ron Slater could not be reached for comment.
Rosen said much of the input submitted to the city came from people opposed to the construction of Park Pointe. Since the project was proposed in the mid-1990s, opponents have said Park Pointe could damage the environment, lead to more vehicles on city roads and spoil views of Tiger Mountain.
Issaquah Alps Club Vice President Ken Konigsmark said he encouraged Park Pointe developers to preserve the land and instead pursue a development rights swap with another developer.
“I was constantly telling them to stop investing more money in architects, designers, feasibility studies,” Konigsmark said.
Officials and developers considered a transfer of development rights with Issaquah Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities. If the swap were successful, additional homes would be built in the highlands instead of at the Park Pointe site.
Port Blakely would be allowed to build more densely in the highlands if the company bought the Park Pointe parcel from Wellington and then deeded the land — and an additional Port Blakely-held parcel — to the city. Then, city officials would preserve the land.
Frisinger said she remained hopeful a development rights swap would allow the Park Pointe land to be preserved.
Konigsmark said he hoped land conservancy groups would consider buying the Park Pointe land if a public auction took place. He said other developers could be attracted to the site because of the zoning.
The proposed development is within the city’s Urban Growth Boundary and the land is zoned for residential units.
Wellington considered two development options for the site: 251 residential units — 121 single-family attached units and 130 multifamily units built on 14 acres of the lower slope or 344 residential units — a mix of 59 single-family detached, 145 single-family attached and 140 multifamily units built on 32 acres on the lower tier of Tiger Mountain and atop the slope.
The developer hoped to connect Park Pointe to the defunct Southeast Bypass, a proposed roadway that would have been built across the lower slopes of Tiger Mountain between Interstate 90 and Issaquah-Hobart Road. City Council members ended plans for the bypass last year. Developers instead proposed connecting Park Pointe to the city street grid via Southeast Evans Street.
Konigsmark said developers were too ambitious with plans for Park Pointe. He said Wellington should have focused instead on a transfer of development rights with Port Blakely.
“You got what you deserved,” Konigsmark said.
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment on this story at

Tiger Mountain land could go to public auction

Wellington Park Pointe LLC — developer of the planned Park Pointe community — has failed to make payments on a loan and defaulted on nearly $11.6 million. A default notice issued June 11 said Wellington did not meet payment deadlines for the loan. Read more

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