Last night (3/15/2016) the Urban Village Development Commission (UVDC) recommended that the City Council approve Polygon Home’s Westridge South application to build 72 single family homes on property previously owned by Microsoft, immediately west of Swedish Hospital. The meeting was the second of two public hearings for this application.
Issues raised in the first public hearing focused on neighborhood character, the current storm water pond and the loss of the trail around the pond. At this meeting, the city presented responses all these issues. In some cases an explanation was all that was warranted. But in response to objections to the loss of the trail, the city and applicant (Polygon Homes) came back with a new trail proposal.
This new trail would run the perimeter of the property, replacing the loop walk many enjoy now around the storm water pond. David Kappler, Vice President of Advocacy for the Issaquah Alps Trails Club spoke in favor of the newly planned trail. Mike Zalewski, resident and de facto representative of West Highlands Park, also spoke in favor of the trail, thanking the staff and the applicant for listening to his concerns. UVDC Chairman Geoff Walker (IH resident) thanked Mike for his participation in the process.
Sarah Hoey, Executive Director of the Issaquah Highlands Community Association (IHCA) and representing the homeowners of Issaquah Highlands, expressed support for the trail, providing caveats to the trail design for the sake of cost-effective maintenance. The IHCA is expected to inherit ownership and maintenance responsibility. In addition, the IHCA is expected to accept ownership and maintenance of open space Tracts C, E and F. The remaining tracts could be accepted by the IHCA, or by the sub-HOA of this new neighborhood.
Traffic and safety was also accommodated in the staff response. At the previous UVDC meeting, Mr. Zalewski brought attention to the danger of the limited sight distance at the intersection of Discovery Drive and the project’s access road. The applicant has agreed to design and reconstruct a portion of Discovery Drive to improve vehicular and pedestrian safety.
Speaking of roads, there was a new “condition” added to the application last night that stated the access road would be relocated to run directly adjacent to the forested King County property to the west. This relocation would allow access to the King County parcel. (The City of Issaquah is in negotiations to purchase this land). Later in the meeting, Director of Development Services, Keith Niven explained that the King County parcel could be sub-divided so that a flatter portion at the top could be zoned to allow for residential development. Such development would be accessed by the road to Westridge South.
The Development Services staff also presented a full update of all the City’s Urban Villages. Those in or around Issaquah Highlands were:
- Brownstones (Polygon) – Almost complete
- Discovery West (Devco) – Complete and almost full
- Bus Service – Routes 628 and 200 expanded
- Westridge (Polygon) – Tonight’s application for the southern portion was approved
- Blocks 19, 20 – Still to be developed
- Harrison Street is sold out
- Temporary Swedish parking lot – Under construction
In this review, Lucy Sloman, Issaquah Development Services Department Land Development Manager, also provided an update to the development of the rest of the old Microsoft property, Westridge North and the commercial property bordering 9th Ave NE. Westridge North is in preliminary planning for 279 homes. The commercial property was reported in February 2016 Connections news to have 1.2 M square feet of commercial use allowed. Ms. Sloman brought new information last night. The allowable space has grown through purchases of what’s called “entitlement” from Port Blakely. There are now 620,000 additional commercial and retail space “entitled” making the total allowable development for this 21 acres 1.85 M square feet of development. For reference, Swedish Hospital is about 500K SF. Grand Ridge Plaza buildings total about 325K SF.
The Urban Village Development Commission meets at Council Chambers each first and third Tuesday at 7pm when they have matters to discussion. See IssaquahWA.gov for current meeting schedules.