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Salish project land annexed

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SNOQUALMIE - The city of Snoqualmie expanded its footprint by more than 40 acres last week to help accommodate a proposed Salish Lodge and Spa expansion project.

At its March 8 meeting, the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance bringing 40.3 acres that lie north of the city off Tokul Road into the city limits. The ordinance approved a petition filed by Gateway Cascades Inc., the company that owns the Salish Lodge and Spa, to build an expansion on that property.

"Welcome to Snoqualmie," Snoqualmie City Attorney Pat Anderson told Salish Lodge and Spa representatives at the meeting.

The vote came after two years of legal hurdles that had prevented the city from annexing the land. The city argued its case before the state Supreme Court last year, however, and legislation was also passed that cleared up any legal problems for the annexation.

A development agreement for the project was also unanimously approved at the meeting. The agreement outlines Gateway Cascades' plan to build a 250-room hotel (the existing Salish has 91 rooms) that will have a 570-seat restaurant and bar. It will also include 25,000 square feet of meeting-room space and 12,000 square feet for recreational facilities.

Design standards, which are included in the agreement, state that the hotel must have a "Northwest Elegance" influence while avoiding "themes" that could "remove a design from its sense of place."

The project also includes up to 110 housing units that will be built to the west of the new lodge. Under city code, 15 percent of those homes must be affordable to those making 80 percent or less of the King County median income.

Rachel Nathanson, the project manager for the Salish expansion, said the city will benefit from having such a facility within its city limits. She said hotels don't require a lot of city services and will be a steady revenue for the city since Snoqualmie will be able to collect a hotel/motel tax.

The development plan also included mitigation payments to the city for public safety and traffic. To handle the expected increase in cars that will be using Tokul Road, the plan states that Gateway Cascades will help pay for the construction of a roundabout or traffic light at the intersection of Tokul Road and State Route 202. Should the second phase of Snoqualmie Ridge be approved and built, the city will receive $37,500 from Gateway Cascades to help pay for widening Snoqualmie Parkway. Snoqualmie will also receive $350,000 from Gateway Cascades to help pay for fire equipment and fire capital improvements upon completion of the Salish project.

While many of the initial steps have been taken to go forward with the project, there are no definite plans for when Gateway Cascades will break ground. Since so much time and energy has been spent in the last few years clearing up the annexation issue, Nathanson said Gateway Cascades has not had time to draw up concrete plans for the hotel.

"This [getting the land annexed] was really the first step for the project," she said.

Councilman Nate Short welcomed the annexation as a crucial step in getting more business to Snoqualmie. He said the Salish is one component of a list of developments that include Northwest Railway Museum's Conservation and Restoration Center, the proposed Snoqualmie Tribe casino and the proposed second phase of the Snoqualmie Ridge development that will all help build the city's economic base.

"There are a lot of exciting things going on," he said.

The annexing of Snoqualmie Ridge Phase II property, another much larger parcel of land in the city's Urban Growth Area, is still being considered by the city.

Ben Cape can be reached at (425) 888-2311 or by e-mail at ben.cape@valleyrecord.com.

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