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Imagine Housing evolves building design for affordable complex, but single Ridge entrance remains

Imagine Housing, the organization behind the 160-unit affordable housing development on Snoqualmie Ridge, holds the second of two informational meetings on its planned seven-building project at 7 p.m. next Wednesday, Feb. 20, at Snoqualmie City Hall.

Imagine’s staffers and consultants hosted the first session in January, when Executive Director Anne Levine shared how the plans had changed since last summer—when the proposal drew a number of concerned neighbors from the Eagle Pointe development next-door.

In a slide presentation, Levine showed how the project has changed from five buildings with four stories and a garage to seven buildings with three stories over a garage, including newly added townhomes. She also shared details of the planned community-use building, and showed drawings of the craftsman-influenced design.

Honoring the local terrain and community, “We wanted to create that resort-like, open lodge feel,” Levine said.

Levine also shared calculations by commercial real estate firm Kidder Matthews that the region needs additional affordable housing in the near future.

Her presentation included a slide that showed that average pay by major Valley employers including the school district, Snoqualmie casino, Snoqualmie Hospital, Salish Lodge and the city of Snoqualmie are within or close to Imagine’s range for residency.

The Ridge development is aimed at families earning 60 percent of the median income in King County, roughly $47,000 for a three-person family.

“If you pay too much of your income toward rent, it’s very hard to survive,” Levine said. “We want to create a spectrum of housing opportunities.”

One design element that hasn’t changed is the development’s single entrance, via Eagle Pointe by way of Jacobia Street. Neighbors continue to question how their residential neighborhood could bear increased traffic.

“Currently, Jacobia, Frontier—only one car can get through at a time,” at times, said Eagle Pointe resident Ed Leonard. “There’s only a small number of homes now. All the other homes going in, it’s going to create a problem. Adding this on top….”

Leonard has lived in this neighborhood for three years. He’s happier than he was over the design. But not enough to dissuade him from pondering an exit from Eagle Pointe.

“I’m thinking about moving,” Leonard said.

According to Imagine’s engineer, and city officials, the connecting streets are rated to bear the demands of the development.

There appear to be no quick fixes or pathways for an alternate entrance to the Snoqualmie Parkway.

“We sat down with the hospital, about looking at other options,” said Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson (Snoqualmie Valley Hospital is developing the adjacent southern parcel for its new facility.)

However, the cost to put a road over or through adjacent wetlands and ponds proved prohibitive.

“We just got there too late in the game,” Larson said.

Additional input was welcomed by Levine, who stresses the company’s long-term viewpoint.

“We want to serve as a community partner and make this a strong, vibrant Eastside community,” she said. “When we come in, we come in to stay.”

Learn more about the city project at http://www.ci.snoqualmie.wa.us/Projects/AffordableHousing.aspx

Learn more about Imagine Housing at http://imaginehousing.org/

 

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