Developer eyes Snoqualmie for new Hilton hotel, February public hearing set

UPDATE |  February 6, 2017

The City of Snoqualmie has confirmed a public hearing about the amendments needed for a proposed hotel development to move forward on Snoqualmie Ridge.  It will be held during the February 6th Planning Commission meeting at City Hall, 38624 SE River Street. That meeting begins at 7PM and will also include a presentation about the proposed amendments and design renderings.

**  Due to inclement weather, there will also be a continuation of the hearing on another evening. The city hopes that second public hearing opportunity will happen later this week, but will be determined at the Feb. 6th meeting. **

How to Testify:

In summary, there are three options to testify on the proposed hotel:

  • Attend the public hearing/presentation tonight February 6th at 7PM
  • Attend the continued public hearing/presentation with date to be determined tonight (hopefully in the next week)
  • Submit written comments to bswanson@ci.snoqualmie.wa.us.

As explained in the original story below, the developer is not able to submit an application until the Planning Commission and the City Council consider amendments to the Snoqualmie Ridge Mixed Use Final Plan, Snoqualmie Ridge Development Standards, and Business Park Binding Site Improvement Plan.

Via press release, the City of Snoqualmie said:

‘The hotel could benefit Snoqualmie in many ways, including creating a significant source of revenue for the city to apply to capital projects, public safety, and services for residents.

It could also attract corporations considering opening or relocating their businesses to vacant lots and buildings in the business park, further increasing revenue sources and supporting economic health.

Visitors to Snoqualmie – including the nearly two million visitors that come to Snoqualmie Falls each year – currently have only one lodging option in Snoqualmie at the Salish Lodge & Spa. Many visitors to Snoqualmie come to Snoqualmie Falls via I-90 and head straight back out of town after visiting Snoqualmie Falls Park, many times not exploring the shops, restaurants, and other attractions throughout town.

With the addition of a second hotel, many of those tourists, as well as those coming to enjoy the Boeing Classic and other activities, can be accommodated, allowing them time to shop and dine to support our local merchants. Residents will also have a lodging option for family and friends visiting from out of town.’


ORIGINAL STORY

If the City of Snoqualmie Planning Commission recommends some changes, made through amendments to the Snoqualmie Ridge (SR) Business Park Binding site improvement plan and the SR Mixed use plan – AND the city council approves them – next summer there could be a new hotel in Snoqualmie, at the corner of Snoqualmie Parkway and Center Street (across the Parkway from the IGA retail complex). Upper Snoqualmie Valley hotel options are currently limited to the Salish Lodge and some older motels in North Bend.

Next week the Planning Commission will look at the second set of [conceptual] design plans from a developer working with the Hilton Group to bring a 97-room Hampton Inn & Suites to Snoqualmie Ridge. Commission members saw the first designs at their December 22nd meeting where they requested some design modifications.

Conceptual drawing of new hotel/retail development – corner of Center Street and Snoqualmie Parkway. Not final design – only conceptual.

 

Required Code Changes for Development to Proceed

The first change required for the project to proceed is to decrease the 50-foot buffer setback to 15 feet for the edge of the property that borders Snoqualmie Parkway. This is needed because approximately 50% of the land parcel has a Puget Sound Energy (PSE) power line easement running through it, limiting the buildable area of the property to this portion near the Parkway. City of Snoqualmie Senior Planner Ben Swanson said PSE restricts buildings in their easements, explaining if transmission line repairs or other work is ever needed, PSE doesn’t want to work around structures.

Because the proposed hotel would essentially front Snoqualmie Parkway, the Planning Commission is requiring front of building design standards for the rear of the property. Swanson said they want the back of the building to look as nice as the front so it fits in with the rest of the retail area. The commission also asked the design be pedestrian-friendly to draw hotel patrons out and into nearby businesses.

The second required change is to add an access lane into the property from Snoqualmie Parkway. This is necessary because property’s current small entrance off Center Street is also located in the PSE easement area, which limits redesigning and grading the entrance. Swanson said the developer has already completed a traffic study, which deemed the access lane acceptable.

Access lane from Snoqualmie Parkway into the proposed site of new hotel/retail development.

 

Details on Proposed Snoqualmie Ridge Hotel and Retail Development

The four-acre site would house a 75,200 square foot, 97-room hotel complete with a breakfast area, 1,500 sq. ft. meeting room, 800 sq. ft board room and indoor swimming pool. The hotel would be four and five stories, with the five-story portion being on the lower end of the sloped property.

Next door would be a 16,600 sq. ft., two-story retail/office building. Half of the first level space would be for a restaurant/cafe and the rest for other retail. Office space would be on the second level. According to plans, both buildings would have a Northwest style design to “honor the beauty of the nature in the City of Snoqualmie.” The 200 stall parking lot would be located in the PSE easement area.

At the request of the Planning Commission, the developer is incorporating a large outdoor plaza, with seating areas, as gathering space for the community. Swanson said this is something the commission felt the existing retail area lacks. The entrance to the property would also included a water feature.

The portion of the hotel that fronts Snoqualmie Parkway would have a stacked design,with portions of the building jutting in and out (vs. a flat building), to create architectural interest. Potential siding materials include stacked stone and various colors of hardie and long board.  There would be pedestrian street/sidewalk access to the property. Although some trees will have to be removed along the Parkway, large existing tree(s) will be kept at the property’s south end.

City of Snoqualmie Director of Community Development Mark Hofman explained, “Commercial development must be a true asset that fulfills community needs. Design guidelines act to create and preserve a sense of place.” He emphasized, “For example, in working for the community, we could not accept a stucco box hotel that looks like it should be along a highway in the desert Southwest. A hotel or any business in Snoqualmie needs to be respectful of residents’ expectations, as this well-designed concept for Parcel 20 of the Business Park does. We try to anticipate and support expectations, and always encourage people to voice their opinions through the public hearings.”

Development Timeline

These latest set of designs will be reviewed by the Planning Commission on Tuesday, January 17th at 7PM at City Hall. Planning Commission meetings are open to the public.

It’s anticipated that a Public Hearing on the proposed code changes will be held on February 6th. Residents can attend and comment in person or email comments to the city.

In mid February the commission will likely make a recommendation to the city council about the code changes and agree on a final conceptual design for the project. Swanson anticipated the city council could be asked to approve the code changes and a development agreement in mid March.

With council approval of the code change amendments, the developer could then move forward with other development requirements, like submitting a building applications and permits. Swanson said the developer hopes to begin construction this spring/summer.

** NOTE: All photos in this article are only conceptual design plans f(NOT final) that will be presented to the Planning Commission. Design plans created by Jensen/Fey Architecture and Planning in Redmond, WA **

Conceptual design for potential hotel and retail building, with large outdoor plaza for community to gather.

 

Conceptual design of proposed hotel. Front entrance to hotel.

 

Conceptual hotel design – side view of access lane.

 

Conceptual design – rear of proposed hotel recessed down into land parcel and fronting Snoqualmie Parkway

 

Conceptual design of proposed hotel – south end of building with existing tree and indoor pool on ground level.

 

 

Comments

  1. Kendall Hunt says

    I think the hotel is a great idea. I was just thinking the other day why Snoqualmie didn’t have a hotel/motel in the city. Probably should have two of them.

  2. Really like the outdoor pedestrian area. I think the city lacks this and would make a great addition.

  3. The Conceptual drawings for the Casino were nice looking as well. What was built was much larger and very different from the conceptual drawings used to gain public support.
    A hotel would be nice. Given the location and the restrictions on that site, the hotel will be very visible and stand out like nothing else on the ridge. 4 and 5 stories? The city and all constituents should think long and hard about whether this is really what we want, or if we want to maintain the rural, open, tree-filled nature of our city.

    • Rural, open, and filled with trees ? Do you really not know that Snoqualmie Ridge was once owned by Weyerhaeuser and then trees were cut and 5,000 people moved in ?

      The population of Snoqualmie will increase. So will the populations of North Bend and Issaquah. The population of King County may double over the next 40 years. Designing a good future is difficult in part because people want what exists today to be maintained. Nothing in human history has ever been maintained. Nothing is sustainable; there is only ever change.

      • SHOBUZ IKBAL says

        I agree with Mike – renderings look great until they’re built and we should be very careful about bringing in a hotel. The Ridge is all residential now and we have a great town center with small retails. Hotel will change this completely as it is a whole different kind of business – to bring in transient people for short stay. That’s why city collect “transient and occupancy tax” from hotels.

        To “futurist” – all I can say is “if you build it they’ll come”.

    • Streganona says

      You don’t have time to think long and hard. There’s already been one public hearing.
      The hearing on code changes is February 6. Bring your lawyer!
      A hotel of casino loving, “can’t make it home cuz I am wasted” guests and assorted family members not wanted at the cracker jack Ridge townhouse. A great place for the kids to walk past on their way to the library

      • Exactly! It boils down to a less expensive hotel stuck in the middle of our family oriented neighborhoods. This is a complete negative for our community. Really unwise. I have a feeling between this and the possible 800 resident adult community, there are going to be some unhappy owners that will be listing their homes. There may even be a flood of homes on the market up here the more residents that find out.

    • This would change the feeling of the Ridge. Very different looking then Salish Lodge.
      My concern also regards crime, and the fact it’s so close to the new elementary school. I think the community and families should be priority, not revenue.

    • It looks as though homeowners in our area have nothing to say?? Big business has taken over and everyone is OK with that? I think a 5-story motel in the middle of the Ridge is an unwise choice for property owners. It may be convenient for travelers, but is that what our community is more concerned about accommodating? And, if we have to put up with this, why is it such undesirable architecture? And why is Snoqualmie OK with a Hampton? It’s lower end lodging. Snoqualmie residents, speak up if you’re against this. Remaining complacent will change the look of the Ridge forever. We will be left with a 5-story building that doesn’t belong here in a family neighborhood. It is one of the more ridiculous proposals I’ve seen. Instead of a motel, how about nice shops and a couple of decent restaurants?

  4. So what happen to the hotel proposed in North Bend?

    • Danna McCall says

      Sounds like it has been delayed, but is still in the works.

    • The North Bend hotel project was originally applied for in 2011, the State EPA has an application for in in 2012, SEPA didn’t block it. Currently the ground hasn’t been graded to start.
      According to Gina Estep, Director, Community and Economic Development [North Bend]: “We do believe the owners of the site in North Bend plan to build out their planned and permitted hotel. Currently due to winter high ground water no ground work is able to be done until the spring, most likely April.”
      Again, the application was originally submitted in 2011, and currently they are still looking at little to no progress. From the way that Gina has stated this, it sounds like they aren’t sure what the owner’s plans are.

  5. A hotel is desperately needed in the area HOWEVER… if you really cared about ““honor(ing) the beauty of the nature in the City of Snoqualmie.” you wouldn’t build a view-blocking hotel.
    I’ve lived in Snoqualmie for 12+ years now and I am absolutely disgusted by the building taking place along the east side of Snoqualmie Parkway. First it was the giant white landing strip of a warehouse. Now, we’ve got Bartells and Safeway moving in, obstructing even more of the wonderful view, and now they want to add a hotel. Walking along Snoqualmie Parkway and admiring the view of the Cascades was one of the things that made living on the Ridge so enjoyable. And now it’s going to be obliterated.

    Right idea. Wrong location!

    • Too high and too close to the Parkway. This will stick out like a sore thumb – you want the tallest building on the ridge right here, blocking views of the mountains? And you want to reduce the Parkway buffer in doing so? This will look completely out of place. Please make it stop – the city planners are out of touch. We do not want Snoqualmie to look like the dreadful Issaquah highlands. Snoqualmie is going downhill fast.

      • Danna McCall says

        If you look closely at one of the photos – that’s where you can see the hotel is recessed into the property so the bottom two floors sit lower than street level… looks like three levels show from the Parkway. It is closer to Snoqualmie Parkway than other buildings, though, which is why the developer is requesting the code change.

        • Hi Danna – the setback for the tallest part of the building will be zero (right on the walkway), according to the documents submitted for the amendments. Again, 60 feet tall right on the pathway beside Snoqualmie Parkway at its tallest point. There won’t be any tall trees to screen the tallest part of the building, there may be some shorter trees.

      • Thanks David G., you couldn’t be more on point. What are they thinking? And I suppose the residents in North Bend care more about their community then we do?! How unfortunate for us. If people don’t think that pollution and crime will come with this hotel development they don’t have a clue. Fortunately, I don’t have a school-age child anymore, he’s graduated. But if I did, I would not stay if a hotel was built. Yes, I agree that Sammamish has changed entirely. But the 22 years we lived there, there wasn’t ever a conversation about a hotel being built smack dab in the middle of our family community. Now we will end up like some kind of pitstop off the freeway for who knows what. This completely changes the entire community and what people have worked so hard to build. Very disappointed. If any of you have a better idea of a community that is still unspoiled, let us know.

  6. The Ridge needs a broader tax base, and more retail can provide that. Currently, something like 75-80% of retail purchases by Ridge residents are made off the ridge. A community of 13k desperately needs more services on the Ridge, thus minimizing auto use and the attendant pollution, etc. a new Safeway, Bartells, along with a hotel is just what is needed to grow the tax revenue. As an aside, my understanding is the developer of the Ridge hotel is the same one who was supposedly moving forward with a hotel in North Bend. I would be curious to know what happened to that proposal, as an indicator of how credible and capable this developer is.

    • Great question Ray Say, what is the track record for this developer? I used to work for a city in California, in the building department. They had approved contractor lists, do they have anything like that for Snoqualmie?

  7. The Ridge absolutely needs a broader tax base. Relying on homeowners to foot the bills isn’t realistic especially as Pulte is finishing up and moving out. More and more current and future homeowners would move to less expensive (tax-wise) nearby cities where goods and services are more easily attained. Normal stores (Safeway, Bartells, and hopefully others) with cheaper/more competitive prices will allow more revenue to stay in Snoqualmie rather than continue to go to Issaquah, Bellevue, and other nearby cities. This increased tax base will be something everyone living on the Ridge and in downtown Snoqualmie will benefit from.

  8. SHOBUZ IKBAL says

    What I heard on North Bend hotel project is that it got stalled because the developer couldn’t get the brand that it was originally proposed as. That one and the proposed one on the Ridge are not corporate project by any hotel chain, rather they’re private developer building to suit certain hotel chain. Ridge will be taking the same risk as North Bend.

    • Streganona says

      The developer got wrapped up in EIS tape. So he decided to build up
      .on the Ridge, where no one would care.

    • Shobuz: It would be helpful to get a reliable source about this. Most of the pro Snoqualmie hotel are for it because of the potential revenue it will bring the city. Without the franchise, it’s unlikely the hotel will be profitable.

  9. Remember this isn’t the Hilton, just a Hampton Inn and Suites owned by them. Hampton isn’t a high end hotel. This isn’t like Salish Lodge. There are existing homeowners and other buyers paying $700K-$850K+ to live in Eagle Point and some other areas on The Ridge. This in no way is fair to homeowners that have invested their life savings. And I’m not forgetting all homeowners on The Ridge. Just using that area as an example.

  10. SHOBUZ IKBAL says

    Public hearing in front of the City Council is scheduled for Monday March 13th at 7 pm. This is the last chance to make our voice heard on such significant project. This will unalterably change the character of our town center.

  11. The setback is actually zero if you read the proposal’s edits, it also has in places that it will be 15 feet average (which is not minimum).
    There are two residents that are directly across from where the hotel will be built, I don’t believe they were notified of this project.
    I ask people on the ridge if they are aware of the proposed hotel for Snoqualmie Parkway, and many of them still aren’t aware of the project.
    We measured the diameter of one of the trees, it was 64″. You can calculate the age of a tree using its diameter and based on the kind of tree (douglas fir), it calculates to be 102 years old, which will be cut down for this project.

    • As I recall Peggy, I just found out mid Feb. How I missed this, I don’t know. I believe that many living on the Ridge aren’t aware, and the same with downtown Snoqualmie Residents. I understand and I’m in favor of Safeway and Bartell. It’s a 5-story lower end motel that’s unappealing. That will be an unattractive landmark here, if it goes through. Maybe most of the original owners have sold and left the area, because the people that purchased a home out here in 1998 moved here for a reason. Not to have some commercial mess sitting across from the library along with beautiful trees cut down. If those living up here are in favor, but only plan on living here for a few years, then it’s not fair to those of us that care more about our environment and the beauty of the Ridge. The Safeway center will bring jobs and revenue to our area, but we truly don’t need a motel. In the long run, it will prove to be one of the worst decisions for our community. All the hard work those before us have to done to preserve the beauty will be gone with this poor choice.

      • I am still running across residents that are not aware of the hotel proposal. I wonder if the residents that are for the hotel realize how close it will be to Snoqualmie Parkway and how tall it will be.

  12. correction – the tree’s circumference was 64″.

  13. I cannot find the notes from the public hearing on February 9th, of the residents that came in person to the meeting and spoke against this proposal. One planning commissioner did thank us for coming to the meeting on February 9th, in opposition to the proposed hotel. We are just a few residents that have been going to meetings about this one project, the city council needs to see more residents show up at the meeting on March 13, 7 pm at City Hall 38624 SE River St, Snoqualmie, WA 98065; if you can’t show up – please email city hall at : jwarren@ci.snoqualmie.wa.us on or before March 13, 2017 at 5:00 PM.
    Note: email and showing up in person is preferable!!

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