There was a great deal of interest in the Aug. 16 meeting of the Issaquah City Council, with the seven member council considering whether to approve amendments to the city’s agreement with Issaquah Highlands master developer Port Blakely.
In the end the council voted to approve what is known as the Park Pointe TDR deal – the result being a transfer of 78 acres to the City of Issaquah in exchange for granting Port Blakely the right to develop 500 more units in the Highlands.
So, does this mean the entire Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) proposal is a done deal? Not by a long shot.
“There are at least a dozen steps in this dance. We’ve taken steps three or four,” said Keith Niven, the City of Issaquah’s primary liaison with Port Blakely and development in the Highlands.
The next step on the city’s TDR dance card is to develop a new agreement for the reclassification of urban growth boundaries. Called the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) TDR Development Agreement, the process will allow 35 acres of land currently zoned rural to be converted to an urban designation. The 35-acre section is part of a 78-acre parcel WSDOT gave to Port Blakely in exchange for construction of water retention ponds near the Sunset Way/Interstate 90 interchange. As part of the Park Pointe TDR, Port Blakely then gifted the 78-acres to the city. Only 35-acres of the parcel will be developed, with the remainder conserved as open space.
The WSDOT agreement is required to open up those 35 acres for development, including the 20-acre section which has already attracted the interest of Bellevue College, which plans to develop a satellite campus there.
There are still a number of approvals needed, both from the city and the King County, as well as from private parties.
From now until December, the city will be bringing different elements of the agreement to the appropriate committees for review. Niven hopes the WSDOT TDR Agreement will be finalized by the end of the year.