By Nina Milligan, Highlands Council, Communication Manager
As printed in the February 2017 issue of Connections News, The Annual Development Issue
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. A little over 47 acres, the western half is slated for residential development (see Development in Issaquah Highlands ). The other half, directly along 9th and Discovery, is owned by Shelter Holdings, LLC.
Shelter Holdings proposed in July 2016 “The High Street Collection”, a large-scale, mixed-use residential development. The development diverges from the current land uses entitled to this property. Therefore, Shelter Holdings proposed a new Development Agreement to govern the land.
Much has changed in Issaquah since then. Here is background information, along with the latest proposal by Shelter Holdings, revealed at their open house at Blakely Hall on January 19th, 2017.
Lay of the Land
As per the Issaquah Highlands Development Agreement (DA):
- 21.5 undeveloped acres along 9th Ave NE and Discovery Drive
- Entitled with 1.86 million square feet of commercial and retail uses, plus 3 residential units
The Issaquah Highlands DA is expected to terminate at the end of 2017. At that time the City of Issaquah’s administration (the Mayor’s office) has proposed to apply zoning to Highlands’ properties that mimics their current entitlements.
Market Data Leads Development Concept
In May 2016, Shelter Holdings shared at an open house at Blakely Hall what their market research revealed about demand for potential development on their site:
- 330,000 sf retail, office and commercial space
- 2,500 residential units
Shelter Holdings representatives also spent time talking with members of our community to learn what they would like to see in such a development.
Returning to Blakely Hall in July 2016, Shelter Holdings presented their first design concepts, called The High Street Collection:
- 316,500 sf retail, office and commercial space
- 1,800 residential units
Shelter Holdings filled Blakely Hall with large displays of building renderings and data. Colorful sketches illustrated lively ground floor retail and commercial uses topped by four stories of residential. About 60 residents attended the open house, bringing a mix of opinions, though most agreed that 1,800 additional homes in Issaquah Highlands were too many. Shelter Holdings followed up by hosting several small focus groups in Blakely Hall to learn about community preferences and priorities.
2017 Development Update
January 19, 2017, Shelter Holdings representatives returned to Blakely Hall. They announced that they plan to scale back their plans for the short term. The current Shelter Holdings plan is to:
Focus on commercial and retail
- Focus on developing the blocks nearest Swedish Hospital, along Discovery Drive, as medical office, commercial and retail
- Request an extension of the Issaquah Highlands Development Agreement to develop these blocks under the same development regulations as the rest of the Issaquah Highlands
Apply for a Binding Site Plan and/or Plat
- A plan or plat would not only establish blocks and roadways, but also 1.8m sf of “allowable development” of commercial and retail, plus three units of residential across the property. (see “entitlement”)
For reference, Grand Ridge Plaza has approximately 325,000 sf of retail space. Discovery Heights and Discovery West have 570 residential units combined.
*For more information, helpful definitions and a closer look at these plans, visit our Development in Issaquah Highlands page.