Recent Stories

Estimated price tag to pretty up Front Street environs from Sunset to Dogwood: $4.13 million

Beautifying Front Street North from Sunset Way to Dogwood Street, and turning Alder into a "festival street" — measures that will do nothing to address the crisis-level traffic on Issaquah's historic boulevard — will cost an estimated $4.13 million. That's the verdict from Seattle-based consultants who were hired by the City of Issaquah to come up with a streetscape plan for downtown. We'll let the consultants explain the three phases of work along Front Street in their own words. • "Phase 1 includes completing the streetscape on Front Street between Sunset Way and Alder Street. New street trees, plantings, benches, bike racks and receptacles will be added to the already completed sidewalks.

Issaquah School Board votes to sell Winterbrook Farm to neighbors for $4.17 million

Winterbrook Farm, it appears, will remain as is. The Issaquah School Board voted at its Friday, April 7, meeting to authorize the school district — which has owned Winterbrook Farm since 2006 — to execute a purchase-and-sale agreement with Erik and Jennifer Johnson, who live on a parcel adjacent to the pastoral 80-acre property. Messages left for the Johnsons were not returned. In February, The Issaquah Press reported that a member of the community had submitted a "slam-dunk" offer to purchase Winterbrook Farm and leave the land undisturbed. The resolution unanimously passed by the school board Friday said the Johnsons submitted their offer in February.

Polygon’s latest plan for Westridge would boost its density from 265 residences to 393

First, Westridge in the Issaquah Highlands was proposed as a 265-home development. Then its developer, Polygon Northwest, asked to increase the density to 365 residences. At the Thursday, April 6, meeting of the Issaquah City Council’s Land and Shore committee, Polygon offered a new proposal: 393 residences at Westridge and 11 more on a chunk of city-owned land known as Tract D.

Ultimately, the committee said there were too many unanswered questions and deferred a recommendation on Polygon’s proposal. Land and Shore will likely consider it again at its next meeting in May. Polygon added a new sweetener to its latest plan: Among the 393 Westridge residences would be 38 affordable housing units in addition to a group home for Life Enrichment Options, a local nonprofit which assists those with developmental disabilities.

Issaquah School Board poised to approve sale of Winterbrook Farm to neighboring homeowners

If the Issaquah School Board approves Resolution 1087 at its Friday, April 7, meeting, the 80-acre property known as Winterbrook Farm would be sold to a couple who owns a home on acreage adjacent to the land — and not a Bellevue developer. The resolution states developer William E. Buchan Inc. provided notice April 4 that it was terminating the purchase-and-sale agreement for the land. It had entered into that deal with the district in October 2016. In February, Erik and Jennifer Johnson submitted an offer of $4.17 million for Winterbrook Farm in the event Buchan decided not to proceed with the purchase. The resolution states "the district has come to an agreement" with the couple "regarding the purchase of the property."

Polygon pitches new Highlands density plan one day before Land and Shore committee meets

Bellevue developer Polygon Northwest is revising its affordable-housing plan in its quest to receive City Council approval to build 100 additional Issaquah Highlands residences in its 265-home Westridge development. In a letter to the city, Polygon says it would "build 38 for-sale affordable housing units plus 1 LEO (Life Enrichment Options) house within the Westridge neighborhood." Westridge is going up north and south of Northeast Discovery Drive near Swedish Hospital. In exchange for the affordable housing units — which Polygon says it is under no obligation to build — the developer wants ownership of a 1.12-acre Highlands parcel that is owned by the City of Issaquah. Polygon also wants "the ability to build 10-15 market-rate single-family homes" on the vacant land, which is known as Tract D.

The letter from Polygon to the city was dated April 5, 2017 — one day before the City Council's Land and Shore committee was scheduled to meet to consider Polygon's original proposal, which was to build 30 affordable housing units and a group home on Tract D as part of a deal that would include the use of transfer development rights to increase density at Westridge from 265 homes to 365.

More than 500 days after Talus landslide, resident asks City Council: What’s the plan?

Talus resident Ken Esemann has a question for the City Council and Issaquah's top leaders: Why is there still a plastic-covered mess at the development's landslide site 16 months after the hill gave way? Speaking during the audience comments portion of the Monday, April 3, City Council meeting, Esemann brought a brief visual presentation and put up a photograph of the site, which he accurately described as an eyesore. This is what the residents of Talus get to look at every day. And this is what we've looked at for 16 months. We've looked at that plastic, we've looked at those eco-blocks, the rubble, orange construction fencing, the piping that comes across the sidewalk, the closed sidewalks.

Issaquah-area restaurant inspections | Big Fish Grill, Pallino receive perfect scores

Two Issaquah restaurants recently earned perfect scores on health inspections conducted by Public Health, Seattle and King County. In the Highlands, Big Fish Grill at 984 NE Park Drive received zero violation points. Pallino Pastaria at 6150 E. Lake Sammamish Parkway SE also received a spotless report. Two other restaurants received blue violation points but no red critical violation points, which earned them a rating of satisfactory. Those establishments are Noodle Boat at 700 NW Gilman Blvd.

Issaquah rent continues to rise and rise fast; median price is now $1,750 per month for 1-bedroom

Hold onto your wallets, renters. In only 60 days, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Issaquah has shot up $130 per month. The forehead-smacking March 2017 figures: $1,750 per month in Issaquah, $100 more than in Seattle. That's according to the latest data released by apartmentlist.com, which tracks rental prices nationwide.  

 

 

In January, Issaquah's median rent for a 1-bedroom was $1,620. In February, it rose to $1,690.

Meet the husband-and-wife team behind Masa Mexican Kitchen and Cantina, coming to Gilman Village

Ryan and Shannon Shimabukuro have decided to take on all the challenges that come with being first-time restaurateurs, and Issaquah's Gilman Village will be the site of their bold new adventure. Last month, the Independent was the first to bring you the news about the Shimabukuros' new restaurant, Masa Mexican Kitchen and Cantina, which they plan to open this summer. The couple, who have two young daughters, recently shared more details with us about Masa. Question: What are your culinary backgrounds? Answer: In 2005, Ryan went to culinary school at Seattle Culinary Academy at Seattle Central Community College.

Day 18 for the Issaquah Independent: Our readership grows and momentum builds [UPDATE]

Pictured above is the latest round of Facebook analytics illustrating your support of the Issaquah Independent, which launched a mere 18 days ago. More important than page likes, however, are Facebook page follows. A user can like a page but not follow it, which means a liked page's posts never appear in that user's news feed. (You can follow our page on Facebook by following this link.)

Independent: 456 Facebook follows from 14,018 Issaquah households = 3.25 percent penetration. Reporter: 1,981 Facebook follows from 30,219 Issaquah/Sammamish households = 6.55 percent penetration.

Issaquah School Board votes to sell Winterbrook Farm to neighbors for $4.17 million

Winterbrook Farm, it appears, will remain as is. The Issaquah School Board voted at its Friday, April 7, meeting to authorize the school district — which has owned Winterbrook Farm since 2006 — to execute a purchase-and-sale agreement with Erik and Jennifer Johnson, who live on a parcel adjacent to the pastoral 80-acre property. Messages left for the Johnsons were not returned. In February, The Issaquah Press reported that a member of the community had submitted a "slam-dunk" offer to purchase Winterbrook Farm and leave the land undisturbed. The resolution unanimously passed by the school board Friday said the Johnsons submitted their offer in February.

Polygon’s latest plan for Westridge would boost its density from 265 residences to 393

First, Westridge in the Issaquah Highlands was proposed as a 265-home development. Then its developer, Polygon Northwest, asked to increase the density to 365 residences. At the Thursday, April 6, meeting of the Issaquah City Council’s Land and Shore committee, Polygon offered a new proposal: 393 residences at Westridge and 11 more on a chunk of city-owned land known as Tract D.

Ultimately, the committee said there were too many unanswered questions and deferred a recommendation on Polygon’s proposal. Land and Shore will likely consider it again at its next meeting in May. Polygon added a new sweetener to its latest plan: Among the 393 Westridge residences would be 38 affordable housing units in addition to a group home for Life Enrichment Options, a local nonprofit which assists those with developmental disabilities.

Issaquah School Board poised to approve sale of Winterbrook Farm to neighboring homeowners

If the Issaquah School Board approves Resolution 1087 at its Friday, April 7, meeting, the 80-acre property known as Winterbrook Farm would be sold to a couple who owns a home on acreage adjacent to the land — and not a Bellevue developer. The resolution states developer William E. Buchan Inc. provided notice April 4 that it was terminating the purchase-and-sale agreement for the land. It had entered into that deal with the district in October 2016. In February, Erik and Jennifer Johnson submitted an offer of $4.17 million for Winterbrook Farm in the event Buchan decided not to proceed with the purchase. The resolution states "the district has come to an agreement" with the couple "regarding the purchase of the property."

Polygon pitches new Highlands density plan one day before Land and Shore committee meets

Bellevue developer Polygon Northwest is revising its affordable-housing plan in its quest to receive City Council approval to build 100 additional Issaquah Highlands residences in its 265-home Westridge development. In a letter to the city, Polygon says it would "build 38 for-sale affordable housing units plus 1 LEO (Life Enrichment Options) house within the Westridge neighborhood." Westridge is going up north and south of Northeast Discovery Drive near Swedish Hospital. In exchange for the affordable housing units — which Polygon says it is under no obligation to build — the developer wants ownership of a 1.12-acre Highlands parcel that is owned by the City of Issaquah. Polygon also wants "the ability to build 10-15 market-rate single-family homes" on the vacant land, which is known as Tract D.

The letter from Polygon to the city was dated April 5, 2017 — one day before the City Council's Land and Shore committee was scheduled to meet to consider Polygon's original proposal, which was to build 30 affordable housing units and a group home on Tract D as part of a deal that would include the use of transfer development rights to increase density at Westridge from 265 homes to 365.

More than 500 days after Talus landslide, resident asks City Council: What’s the plan?

Talus resident Ken Esemann has a question for the City Council and Issaquah's top leaders: Why is there still a plastic-covered mess at the development's landslide site 16 months after the hill gave way? Speaking during the audience comments portion of the Monday, April 3, City Council meeting, Esemann brought a brief visual presentation and put up a photograph of the site, which he accurately described as an eyesore. This is what the residents of Talus get to look at every day. And this is what we've looked at for 16 months. We've looked at that plastic, we've looked at those eco-blocks, the rubble, orange construction fencing, the piping that comes across the sidewalk, the closed sidewalks.

Issaquah-area restaurant inspections | Big Fish Grill, Pallino receive perfect scores

Two Issaquah restaurants recently earned perfect scores on health inspections conducted by Public Health, Seattle and King County. In the Highlands, Big Fish Grill at 984 NE Park Drive received zero violation points. Pallino Pastaria at 6150 E. Lake Sammamish Parkway SE also received a spotless report. Two other restaurants received blue violation points but no red critical violation points, which earned them a rating of satisfactory. Those establishments are Noodle Boat at 700 NW Gilman Blvd.

Issaquah rent continues to rise and rise fast; median price is now $1,750 per month for 1-bedroom

Hold onto your wallets, renters. In only 60 days, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Issaquah has shot up $130 per month. The forehead-smacking March 2017 figures: $1,750 per month in Issaquah, $100 more than in Seattle. That's according to the latest data released by apartmentlist.com, which tracks rental prices nationwide.  

 

 

In January, Issaquah's median rent for a 1-bedroom was $1,620. In February, it rose to $1,690.

Meet the husband-and-wife team behind Masa Mexican Kitchen and Cantina, coming to Gilman Village

Ryan and Shannon Shimabukuro have decided to take on all the challenges that come with being first-time restaurateurs, and Issaquah's Gilman Village will be the site of their bold new adventure. Last month, the Independent was the first to bring you the news about the Shimabukuros' new restaurant, Masa Mexican Kitchen and Cantina, which they plan to open this summer. The couple, who have two young daughters, recently shared more details with us about Masa. Question: What are your culinary backgrounds? Answer: In 2005, Ryan went to culinary school at Seattle Culinary Academy at Seattle Central Community College.

Day 18 for the Issaquah Independent: Our readership grows and momentum builds [UPDATE]

Pictured above is the latest round of Facebook analytics illustrating your support of the Issaquah Independent, which launched a mere 18 days ago. More important than page likes, however, are Facebook page follows. A user can like a page but not follow it, which means a liked page's posts never appear in that user's news feed. (You can follow our page on Facebook by following this link.)

Independent: 456 Facebook follows from 14,018 Issaquah households = 3.25 percent penetration. Reporter: 1,981 Facebook follows from 30,219 Issaquah/Sammamish households = 6.55 percent penetration.

After city botches tax rebate, Downtown Issaquah Association asks for $25,000 taxpayer bailout [UPDATE]

The City of Issaquah screwed up, and its taxpayers are on the verge of paying $25,000 for it. The Downtown Issaquah Association, in a letter written by its president, Keith Watts, is asking for a $25,000 taxpayer-funded bailout because the city failed to secure a Washington Main Street Program tax rebate that DIA has come to rely on as part of its annual budget. An agenda bill that is part of the Monday, April 3, City Council meeting's consent agenda blames the mistake on "a personal emergency coupled with technical issues with the state's website." Those "technical issues" did not prevent other groups from scooping up the state tax credits, which are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Thirty-four programs compete for contributions capped statewide at $1.5 million, and once the money is gone, it's gone.

Report: Developer must decide soon whether to buy Winterbrook Farm from Issaquah School District

The Seattle Times devoted a large portion of its front page this morning to the potential sale of the Winterbrook Farm property on May Valley Road. If you haven't been following this story, the Issaquah School District wants to sell the 80-acre site, a Bellevue developer is in the process of buying it and neighbors want to preserve it. William E. Buchan Inc., the developer interested in erecting 16 luxury homes on the land, must decide soon whether to go through with the deal. The Issaquah School District, which owns the land, entered into a purchase-and-sale agreement with Bellevue developer William E. Buchan, Inc., in October. The developer is currently conducting feasibility studies of the property, which includes two seasonal creeks, wetlands and the resident elk.

Issaquah resident pleads with City Council: Fix traffic, parking before spending money on streetscape

Issaquah resident Angela Bartholomaus stood before the City Council during the audience comments portion of the March 20 council meeting and told our mayor and elected representatives what we at the Independent believe the majority of this city is also thinking. Here's what Bartholomaus told the council. I went to the streetscapes open house that was recently here in Issaquah at the depot park, and I was little concerned because of the loss of parking, and I know traffic is my biggest concern. I moved to Issaquah from Kent and expected my life to improve but my commute time has doubled compared to what it was in Kent, and I think we live a lot closer. So I would hope that you would consider actually fixing traffic and fixing parking before you spend money on the streetscape.

Issaquah-area restaurant inspections | Thai Ginger bounces back with satisfactory score

Thai Ginger received a follow-up King County health inspection March 21 after a poor showing earlier in the month. The Klahanie restaurant received no red critical violation points during the latest visit by a Public Health, Seattle and King County inspector. It received five blue points but still received a "satisfactory" result. Blue violations are considered low-risk. Thai Ginger had received 85 red points during a March 8 inspection. That score required a return visit by an inspector within 14 days.

‘Beautification’ of Maple Street roundabout nearly triples its cost; council committee unanimously backs it

On Feb. 8, the Issaquah City Council approved the construction of a utilitarian roundabout on Maple Street Northwest that would cost $130,000. Next month, the council will be asked to approve an entirely different roundabout design for the same Maple intersection that will cost $360,000. Huh? The council’s Infrastructure committee on Tuesday, March 28, unanimously approved the city’s revised, more-expensive design for the roundabout, which would be located at the entrances to parking lots near Target and Trader Joe’s in the Issaquah Commons shopping center.

County inches closer to approving funds for Issaquah-Hobart Road traffic study

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn’s staff pushed out a news release this morning about funding for a traffic study of Issaquah-Hobart Road. Dunn’s lone quote in the release noted that the county is not flush with cash. “I look forward to the results of this study and learning how we can work to improve traffic on this important regional corridor under a constrained financial environment,” said Dunn. If the legislation is approved by the King County Council, the county will enter into an interlocal agreement with the City of Issaquah. The county would pay for 50 percent of the study, up to a maximum of $175,000.

City not honoring council’s Feb. 8 decision on a less-expensive Maple roundabout at Target, Trader Joe’s

It's come to the point where Issaquah's City Hall is ignoring the directions of the City Council. Six weeks ago, the City Council voted to approve $80,000 in funding for the less-expensive of two roundabout options for the intersection of Maple Street Northwest and the entrances to parking lots near Trader Joe’s and Target. When the council’s Infrastructure committee meets tomorrow (Tuesday, March 28), it will hear a request from the city for an additional $230,000 so it can build the more expensive roundabout option it originally preferred. On Feb. 8, the City Council approved the expenditure that would be combined with $50,000 budgeted for the intersection in 2017.

We interrupt yet another gloomy March day to bring you this dash of spring color in downtown Issaquah

Even the most hardy of us who call the Pacific Northwest home are beginning to feel edgy about what seems like an endless gloom. Spring, however, is making an effort to reveal itself. We traveled about downtown Issaquah to take in a colorful pick-me-up in an attempt to negate, as best we could, another gray, drizzly day. (Move through the photo gallery above by clicking the arrows to the right and left of the images.)

Westridge’s 100-unit Issaquah Highlands density increase request returns to Land and Shore on April 6

Do you recall the request from developer Polygon Northwest to increase the density of its Westridge project in the Issaquah Highlands from 265 residences to 365? It was a proposed amendment to the Highlands' development agreement that on Jan. 18 received a 3-0 recommendation of denial from the City Council’s Land and Shore committee. You’d have good reason to think that request was dead. You’d be wrong.

Gilman Lofts development agreement appeared doomed because of traffic concerns, but Marts keeps it alive

The citizens of Issaquah have told their municipal government over and over and over again: Stop approving new development projects without addressing traffic problems.

Apparently, City Councilmember Tola Marts isn’t listening. Marts threw a controversial project a lifeline at the Monday, March 20, City Council meeting after a proposed development agreement for a 45,000-square-foot mixed-use structure on Northwest Gilman Boulevard seemed doomed. The project, which is called Gilman Lofts, would add a stoplight on Gilman at its intersection with Northwest Juniper Street. The developer would pay $1 million and the city would contribute no more than $375,000 for changes to the intersection. But the traffic flow is complicated on Juniper at that location because of the awkward connection with Rainier Boulevard North, which is tenuously controlled by stop signs only a few yards from where Juniper terminates on the southern side of Gilman.