Construction begins on multi-use development in Snoqualmie

The project faced several appeals and a lawsuit before moving forward.

Work has officially begun at the future site of The Rails, a mixed-use three-story apartment building coming to Maple Avenue between King and River streets in Snoqualmie — to the chagrin of multiple residents.

The project will consist of office and retail space on the first floor and 11 market-rate apartments on the second and third floors, according to the city.

“While this is not an affordable housing project, it is a project that will bring new apartments, the majority sized between 606 square feet to 832 square feet, that will diversify housing options within the city, allowing another option for those who want to live in Snoqualmie,” wrote Emily Arteche, the community development director for the city. “Smaller apartments also typically come with smaller monthly rents.”

First introduced to the city by longtime Valley resident and property owner Tracy Hovinga in 2021, the land parcel is located within the city’s historic district — a zone designated to protect and preserve the area’s historic aesthetic. Because of its location, the project proposal was required to undergo an approval process led by the city’s Historic Design Review Board before construction permits could be issued.

Snoqualmie’s Planning Commission, acting as the Historic Design Review Board, approved the design on Jan. 18, 2022.

“This project helps the city meet its housing unit growth target number prescribed by the King County Urban Growth Area and the State Growth Management Act, as well as brings more rental housing units to the downtown area,” Arteche wrote when asked about the benefit to the surrounding community.

According to Snoqualmie City Council agenda packet from March 28, 2022, ten separate appeals of the decision were filed by the Feb. 8, 2022, deadline.

The appellants cited several sections of the municipal code with which they believed the project was not in compliance, and a majority of them mentioned code sections 17.35.210, 17.35.150, and 17.35.180, among others.

Sections 180 and 210 mention that changes to existing buildings or new construction must enhance the overall character of the area by using materials similar to the surrounding buildings. All new commercial or industrial buildings must relate in style and materials to the pre-World War II structures in the historic district. Section 210 also mentions that box-like designs should be avoided.

Section 150 states that “projects shall be reviewed by the historic preservation officer, who shall inform the King County office of cultural resources of all such applications.”

Dan Stokes, a Snoqualmie resident who served as a spokesperson for the appellants, addressed the Snoqualmie City Council during a March 14 meeting.

“I live within sight of this lot and am horrified to see that something of such poor design aesthetic and questionable zoning interpretations is planned for my neighborhood,” he said.

Councilmembers raised concerns about the apparent lack of involvement from the King County Office of Cultural Resources, which the city staff did not address in their rebuttal.

According to a past Valley Record article, the city declined to comment on the discrepancy.

During a March 14 meeting, the Snoqualmie City Council dismissed all ten appeals, stating that the appellants failed to identify any factual or legal grounds for appeal or to show that the board’s decision contained errors. The council then approved the Historic Design Review Board’s decision.

In June 2022, a lawsuit appealing the land use decision for this project was dismissed by King County Superior Court Judge Tanya Thorp, according to the city. Following the dismissal of the appeals, The Rails’ civil engineering plans were approved in February 2024, and a building permit was issued in April 2024.

The city is awaiting a construction schedule reflecting when the project will be completed.

Construction site for The Rails in Snoqualmie. Photo by Mallory Kruml/Valley Record

Construction site for The Rails in Snoqualmie. Photo by Mallory Kruml/Valley Record

Construction site for The Rails in Snoqualmie. Photo by Mallory Kruml/Valley Record

Construction site for The Rails in Snoqualmie. Photo by Mallory Kruml/Valley Record