Development in Issaquah Highlands


By Nina Milligan, Highlands Council Communication Manager

Welcome to the website partner of the February 2017 Annual Development Issue of Connections NewsLast year we focused on the public process and how development projects in the Highlands are reviewed and approved. Throughout the year, Highlands Council kept you up-to-date on opportunities for you to participate and speak your mind about development plans in the Highlands. Many of you showed up. And you made a difference. Now you can learn the results of that process, along with details of what’s breaking ground in Issaquah Highlands in 2017.

Approximately 400 new homes are expected to be under construction in Issaquah Highlands over the next couple years. Many residents have expressed concerns, particularly about traffic and schools. Regarding traffic, master developer Port Blakely paid it forward by building all the roads required before the buildings were built. Don’t expect any significant capacity increases to come with these new homes.

As for schools, the 2016 Issaquah School District bond passed with strong support. This capital bond provides for construction of two new elementary schools, one new middle school and one new high school, district wide. At press time, there was no report of new school locations. But Superintendent Ron Thiele, in his State of the Schools address to the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce on January 11th said that he expects the District to close on at least one land deal by this spring.

It is unclear if any additional schools will be sited in Issaquah Highlands, but one thing is for sure, there will be a lot of construction. In addition to new residential housing, in the forms of apartments, townhomes, single family homes and luxury, custom homes, Central Park’s Pad #1 is getting an overhaul and the IHCA is building a new maintenance facility down below Black Nugget Park.

We already see building projects around the community. And there are several that you can’t see yet. Read on for the latest news on upcoming development in the Highlands or check out our current Annual Development Update issue of Connections News.

The Issaquah Highlands Development Agreement will be terminate at the end of this year. Learn about what’s next for our built environment on April 20th, 7pm at Blakely Hall. Also, keep up on news at the City of Issaquah’s special DA page.

Issaquah Highlands Development Stats

Land Use Overall

Total acreage: 2200 acres

Groundbreaking 2017-18

Total new homes expected: 438

Commercial, Retail and Institutional Development

Total entitled: 3,692,200 square feet

Helpful Development Terms

Affordable Housing (distinct from low income housing):

As governed by the Issaquah Highlands Development Agreement (DA), 30% of residential development shall be “affordable housing”. The DA further defines “affordable” as that which is calculated as affordable to those earning 80, 100 and 120% of the King County median income. (Currently, the King County household median income is $73,000.)

Audience Comments:

An opportunity to speak publicly, addressing a body such as the City Council, on a topic that is not scheduled for a Public Hearing at that meeting. City Council provides this opportunity at the beginning of each meeting. The UVDC and City Council committees also welcome audience comments. (See specific agendas on the City website.)

Commercial Uses Include:

Office, Hotel, Restaurants, Fitness, Entertainment, Warehousing/Storage, Light Manufacturing, etc.

Development Agreement (DA):

An agreement (contract) between a land owner and a jurisdiction, such as a city, that determines how a property will be developed. The agreement has a term (i.e. 20 years) and “runs” with the land, if sold. The Issaquah Highlands Development Agreement was signed in 1996.

End of DAs:

A casual reference to the end of buildout period of the Issaquah Highlands Development Agreement (DA), and the agreement’s termination. Even though undeveloped properties remain in the Highlands, the City or the Master Developer can choose to terminate the DA at the end of the buildout period, which occurs in 2017.


Amount of residential, commercial or institutional development allowed by a contract such as a Development Agreement.

Institutional Uses Include:

Schools, Churches, Cultural Facilities, etc.


In September 2016, the City of Issaquah enacted a six-month moratorium on certain types of development. There are many exceptions. Notable to Issaquah Highlands is that all land governed by Development Agreements is excluded. In February 2017 the City Council extended this moratorium to September 6, 2017.

Public Hearing:

A scheduled opportunity to speak on the record on a specific topic. The Urban Village Development Commission (UVDC) and City Council both hold Public Hearings. Public notice of a hearing will be provided at least 10 days in advance. Sign up on the City’s website, “Notify Me” to receive email notices of Public Hearings.

Retail Uses Include:

Stores and Shops, Grocery Stores, Banks, Winery/Brewery, etc.

Site Development Permit (SDP):

When a development is large or complicated the Site Development Permit application process is used, which includes a Public Hearing.

Transfer of Development Rights (TDR):

Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) is a voluntary, incentive- based program that allows landowners to sell development rights from their land to a developer or other interested party who then can use these rights to increase the density of development at another designated location.

Urban Village Development Commission (UVDC):

A commission serving by appointment of the Mayor to review and approve (or recommend to approve) applications to develop land in the city’s Urban Villages, such as Issaquah Highlands.

Under Construction, Planned Construction, Undeveloped Land, Proposals & Plans

The High Street Collection:

The last big piece of undeveloped land in Issaquah Highlands is what was formerly owned by Microsoft, the large parcel to the west of 9th Ave NE. Half of this 47 acres, directly along 9th and Discovery, is owned by Shelter Holdings, LLC. In July 2016, they proposed “The High Street Collection”, a large-scale, mixed-use residential development. The development diverges from the current land uses entitled to this property. Click here for the complete update.

Westridge South:

In 2016, Issaquah’s City Council approved Polygon Home’s Westridge South application to build 72 single family homes immediately west of Swedish Hospital. Members of the public worked with the city and Polygon Homes to design a new trail going around the perimeter of the property. Homes here will range from 2,200 to 3,550 square feet with three configurations: 2-story, 2-story with daylight basement, and 3-story with “tuck under” garages. The model homes could be under construction by early February with homes offered for sale by mid-summer. This neighborhood should be finished in the spring of 2018.

Westridge North:

In 2016 the City of Issaquah’s Urban Village Development Commission (UVDC) approved 109 condominium-townhomes to be built on 8.5 acres west of 9th Ave N.E., north of Discovery Drive, in the middle of what once was the Microsoft property. There will be new roads and pedestrian through-ways to the West Highlands Park neighborhood. The floor plans for these townhomes will be similar to The Brownstones, just completed on Ellis Drive. They will be three to four stories, each building comprising two to six units. However, the exterior character will be significantly different, with a more contemporary or modern style. Polygon expects construction to begin late summer 2017. On January 18th the City of Issaquah’s City Council Land and Shore Committee agreed on a  recommendation to deny Polygon’s proposal (AB 7215) to add 100 additional residential units to Westridge North as per a transfer of development rights (TDRs) from Park Pointe. The proposal goes before the full Council on February 21st, with a Public Hearing.

February 22, 2017 Update: Issaquah’s City Council did not take a vote on AB 7215 (see details above) at their February 21st meeting. Council President (an IH resident) Stacy Goodman “moved” to leave the public hearing open until April 17th, and to remand the consideration of AB 7215 back to the council’s Land and Shore committee. Paul Winterstein seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

March 2nd Update: Polygon presented to Issaquah’s City Council’s Land and Shore Committee revised affordable housing proposals, five to consider. The deliberations continue at the committee’s April 6th meeting. See details here>>

Central Park:

After years of planning and almost four years after the people of Issaquah voted to pass a bond measure that slated Central Park’s Pad 1 as a lighted, artificial turf field, re-construction of Pad 1 begins this year. Pad 1, the grass baseball field nearest the big playground, will be reconstructed with artificial turf, some peripheral amenities and field lights. Click here for the complete update.

Grand Ridge Plaza, Block 5:

At press time, we did not have any details about future additions to Grand Ridge Plaza. However, if the Issaquah Highlands Development Agreement (DA) terminates at the end of 2017, unused entitlement could be lost. From the 2012 Site Development Permit, Regency has approval to build up to 3,000 square feet of retail on the corner of NE High Street and 9th Ave NE. Regency has approximately 5,200 square feet of remaining entitlement, which might be constructed in that location if it were consistent with the conditions of approval. Watch Issaquah Highlands media for any news on this as it is released.

Block 19:

Block 19, located at the northeast corner of NE Falls Drive and 10th Avenue NE, is now in the early stages of design after a series of meetings with the City of Issaquah and the Issaquah Highlands Community Association (IHCA) Builder Architectural Review Committee (BARC). Property owner Sumitomo Forestry America has partnered with Trammell Crow Residential to develop 135 residential apartments, each approximately 1,000 sf. Clark Design Group of Seattle are the architects. Fronting on 10th Ave NE, units will enjoy views of the community pond behind, especially from the roof-top deck. (commonly referred to as the WSDOT pond).

Block 20:

This 1.24 acre lot on 10th Ave NE, south of Falls Drive, has had a chain link fence around it for years. The most action we have seen on this property was a “For Auction” sign go up, and then fall down. The owner of record is SYCAN B CORP+NEWGATE LLC. The Issaquah Highlands Development Agreement (DA) entitlement allows for up to 90,000 square feet of commercial development. In March, John and Trisha Hoss announced their plans to purchase this property to build/open CitySurf, an indoor deep-water surfing facility. See more here>>

Tract D:

The City of Issaquah owns the property at the base of College Drive at 15th Ave NE that some locals fondly call Stump Park. It’s a little over an acre and currently slated for up to 50 units of “affordable housing”. In 2016, Polygon NW proposed developing this land for the City with 25 units of for-sale affordable housing, plus one group home. On January 18, the City Council Land and Shore Committee, tasked with researching and deliberating this proposal, voted unanimously to deny the proposal when it goes to the full City Council for a vote on February 21st, based on rejecting a part of the proposal which would use TDRs to add 100 more homes to Issaquah Highlands.

February 22, 2017 Update: Issaquah’s City Council did not take a vote on the Tract D proposal at their February 21st meeting. Council President (an IH resident) Stacy Goodman “moved” to leave the public hearing open until April 17th, and to remand the consideration of AB 7215 back to the council’s Land and Shore committee. The council still had questions about the TDRs’ SEPA mitigation, infrastructure impacts, and TDR receiving site designations. Paul Winterstein seconded the motion, which passed unanimously. More details HERE >>>

Bellevue College:

Bellevue College (BC) owns 20 acres on College Drive, behind Grand Ridge Elementary. They have an approved permit to build a 425,000 square foot campus. There has been no further action taken towards building the campus. Keith Niven, Director Development Services and Economic Development for the City of Issaquah, surmises, “Until they (BC) hire a new president, plans seem to be stalled.”

Harrison Street and Grand Ridge Drive:

The Harrison Streets neighborhood includes 90 building lots total, 61 homes are complete, 22 home sites are currently under construction, leaving seven lots yet to be developed. Of the 40 properties total in the Grand Ridge Drive neighborhood, there are six remaining available for sale (and one resale). 16 are built, eight have construction plans in process.

Recent Development Updates

Polygon Changes Proposal

By | Development News, Front Page, General | No Comments

On April 6th, the City of Issaquah’s Land and Shore Committee once again considered Polygon Homes’ proposal to build affordable housing and transfer 100 residential [units] rights (TDRs) into Issaquah Highlands. This time, the five affordable housing options presented on March 2nd were reduced to one. Polygon’s proposal (dated April…

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