As developer eyes Snoqualmie for new hotel, city council to hear public testimony March 13th

[This article has been updated to reflect the motions of the Snoqualmie Planning commission, as reflected in their February 9th meeting minutes.] 

The City of Snoqualmie will hold another public hearing about a potential hotel/retail development proposed for the corner of Center Street and Snoqualmie Parkway, across from Chase Bank.

In order for the developer to submit applications and move forward with the proposed project, the City Council must consider [and approve] amendments to the Snoqualmie Ridge Mixed Use Final Plan, Snoqualmie Ridge Development Standards, and Business Park Binding Site Improvement Plan.

That public hearing happens on March 13th at 7PM at the Snoqualmie City Council meeting, 38624 SE River Street.

Some of the needed amendments address adding vehicle turn-in/turn-out access to the hotel from Snoqualmie Parkway, reducing building setback requirements to 15 feet, allowing up to a 5-story building [not to exceed 60 feet]. Access full list of the amendments, traffic study, staff reports, HERE.

Starting in December, the City of Snoqualmie Planning Commission provided feedback on design plans submitted by the developer working with the Hilton Group to bring a 4 and 5-story (taller on lower portion of property), 97-room Hampton Inn & Suites to Snoqualmie Ridge.  [You can read more about the potential hotel/retail development HERE.]

According to written public testimony submitted to the city, residents who are opposed to the hotel expressed concerns about the reduced setback from Snoqualmie Parkway – from 50 feet to 15 feet – and are also concerned a hotel will change the small town feel of Snoqualmie.

Senior City Planner Ben Swanson said the decreased setback is needed due to a PSE power line easement on the 5.5 acres land parcel proposed for the project. He explained the strict easement makes about 50% of the parcel unbuildable, requiring the hotel be on located at the back of the site, close to Snoqualmie Parkway.

In response, the Planning Commission requested higher design standards for the back of the hotel that could potentially ‘front’ Snoqualmie Parkway – requesting it have design features similar to the front of the hotel. They also asked for better pedestrian access to the hotel so patrons had integrated walking access to nearby retail areas.

According to an earlier press release, the city is supportive of adding a hotel, stating, “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.”

Bringing a hotel to Snoqualmie is also identified in the city’s Comprehensive Plan. It is not yet clear if the city council will take action on the needed amendments at their March 13th meeting that follows the public hearing.

According to City of Snoqualmie Community Development Director Mark Hofman, the Planning Commision’s official recommendation to the city council is that they take action on the developer’s requested amendments on April 9th.

The February 9th Planning Commission meeting minutes indicate members passed a motion keeping the 50 foot buffer intact on the the land parcel, approved the right-in/right-out driveway, and denied the condition adding ‘hotel’ as a permitted use within the Business Park. A motion to add a definition of ‘hotel’ landed in a tie. Four of the seven commission members were present at the meeting.

Hofman said the city council will consider the Planning Commission recommendation in their review and action on March 13th, but “their action is their own as elected officials.”  He explained that the commission’s recommendation is only for [coundil] consideration – “not binding, but worthy of consideration.”

 

Conceptual design of proposed hotel. Front entrance to hotel.

 

Conceptual design for potential hotel/retail, with large outdoor plaza off retail building. Snoqualmie Parkway is left/adjacent of the building complex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Richard Scheel says

    Commenting on “Senior City Planner Ben Swanson said the decreased setback is needed due to a PSE power line easement”: The information about the easement and about the setback has been available to the owner of the property all along. Now they are asking us to change the requirements so they can make a better profit from the property. We do not owe it to them to accept a less desirable appearance along the main thoroughfare into our city just so they can have a more profitable business.

    • Exactly right. These standards exist for a reason. What is this whiff of desperation on the part of our city where we are suddenly willing to lower our standards? We are selling ourselves short. The business park was also not zoned for a hotel. This is going to bring a transient element into the center of our city.

      • I agree with David, but there are concerns that I have about the track record for this developer as well. Same applicant as for the North Bend hotel project that was initiated in 2011, and they still have not graded the lot.

      • It is one of the worst ideas ever proposed in a suburban neighborhood.. A 5-story Hampton Inn? It made perfect sense to erect a hotel near the North Bend Outlet, but this makes zero sense. And the Snoqualmie City Council Isn’t looking out for our community. This city council will be remembered for changing the feel of the Ridge forever, bringing pollution here, inviting transients along with crime. Are the city council members long time residents of the Snoqualmie Valley? I spoke with a friend yesterday that grew up here and has since moved away. I had to email her the information on the proposed hotel, because she thought I was joking. She is still in shock that the Snoqualmie City Council wouldn’t care enough to protect the Ridge and its residents. I’m sure those that voiced opposition to the Ridge originally must be laughing. Snoqualmie proper residents were disappointed to say the least when Quadrant started building on the Ridge. I don’t believe even they could have ever imagined we’d possibly be looking at a big ugly hotel that will block views of Mt. SI. I hope that revenue is worth destroying our community. Thanks for nothing.

  2. A couple questions:
    1. Can the power lines be moved underground. I think they could – at a price. Unfortunately for the developer, this is the cost of using a parcel that will be so integral to our town. It feels like we are selling parcels to the lowest bidders … long term our town will benefit from good, strategic choices.
    2. Along those lines, this parcel should be set aside for development that *residents* of the Ridge will actually use. Few of us will ever set foot in that hotel. Why locate it in the center of town? Sorry – that land should be used for development that benefits more of us.
    3. There is a vacant lot (actually 2 but only 1 that I can say is a city parcel) right beside the hospital. THIS is a good location.
    It is completely unacceptable to have a 4-5 story building towering over the Parkway, EVEN with a 50-foot buffer. Mr Mayor – we can make this an issue in your re-election if you like.

  3. I am grateful that we finally are seeing a reference to the planning commission NOT APPROVING this hotel, almost a month after the meeting happened on February 9th. I and a number of friends who are residents attended that meeting and spoke out against this project. Not that many residents showed up, but those that did were all against this hotel except for one. If you are against this project, please go to the council meeting on March 13th at 7 pm in city hall!!!

  4. Did you know that the applicant for this project was also associated with the North Bend hotel project, which is still on hold?

  5. Link to the 234 page proposal as submitted to the Planning Commission:
    http://www.ci.snoqualmie.wa.us/DesktopModules/Bring2mind/DMX/Download.aspx?Command=Core_Download&EntryId=25314&PortalId=0&TabId=273;

    page 27, item 26 – “For Lot 20, buffer setbacks from Snoqualmie Parkway shall be zero for public amenities and buildings”

  6. At least one Douglas Fir tree that is 102 years old, its circumference is 64 inches, which can be calculated using this calculator from Cornell University: http://www.cliftonparkopenspaces.org/treecalculator/

    Did you know that Douglas Fir trees can live over 500 years?

  7. Did you know that the application for the North Bend project was originally submitted in 2011, and the lot still has not been graded for the project? The north bend project is located behind Safeway across from the outlet stores.
    Did you know that the developer for the North Bend hotel is the same developer for the Issaquah hotel project that hasn’t started yet? That project will be situated behind Fred Meyer on a steep slope.
    http://www.theeastside.news/issaquah/news/local/story-hotel-proposed-for-slope-behind-issaquah-fred-meyer/article_3e5ca7c2-6a35-11e6-8355-9309c3cdc64a.html

  8. To find out about the developer, you can go to:
    http://bls.dor.wa.gov/ >> Search >> Business Licenses
    At the North Bend hotel project site, there is a sign with “NBK LLC”, which can be found on the state’s licensing site.
    That is the same developer as the project in Issaquah, according to:
    http://www.theeastside.news/issaquah/news/local/story-hotel-proposed-for-slope-behind-issaquah-fred-meyer/article_3e5ca7c2-6a35-11e6-8355-9309c3cdc64a.html

  9. Did you know that there are residents with their front doors directly across from the proposed Snoqualmie hotel project, across Snoqualmie Parkway?
    I don’t think those residents were notified about this project, but neighboring businesses were.

  10. Architect for the Snoqualmie project: Jensen/Fey Architecture and Planning in Redmond
    Same architect for the Issaquah project:
    http://products.issaquahwa.gov/ActiveProjects/PRE16-00010/PRE16-00010%20Plan%20Set.pdf
    See page 3 – contextual analysis, we didn’t get that analysis from this architect for this project. I asked for this analysis at the February 9th Planning Commission meeting, and haven’t seen it yet. Contextual analysis puts the project in the context of what is existing at the site now. There is a site analysis for the homes that will be behind the project on a hill, taking into consideration if the project will block their view. This was not done for the City of Snoqualmie’s proposed hotel project.

  11. 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 Public Comment Period: Verbal comments can be made at the hearing. Written comments
    may be submitted to the City of Snoqualmie: jwarren@ci.snoqualmie.wa.us on or before March 13, 2017 at 5:00 PM.

    • Thank you Peggy for all the information and keeping us so well informed. We need everyone opposed to this project to make their voices heard March13 at 7pm. Please put it on your reminders now. We are fighting for a community that is beautiful and can remain so for years to come without erecting a 5-story hotel. While Issaquah Highlands had many changes at least they were provided useful stores to patronize and make it more convenient for the residents. What does the Snoqualmie City Council do? Try and talk us into providing conveniences for others that don’t reside here, but want to visit the Falls. They have made a very weak case for this community changing proposal. I just keep thinking about how close it’s located to the new elementary school, besides our neighborhoods. Once they’re here there is no turning back.

  12. R. J. Farr says

    Seems to be a bit of paranoia about having change – even though the impact of the new elementary school and the Safeway/Bartell development will be vastly more notable to residents in terms of traffic. If one examines the Issaquah concerns over the proposed hotel behind Fred Meyer, they often are wishes for affordable housing instead or speculation that the whole hillside will collapse. The Northwest is full of carefully designed hillside structures and the engineers get it right. That hillside is not some wilderness playground – it is a steep, unused parcel with a few houses on top and nearly a thousand condos and apartments to the right.

    Issaquah has everything from a Motel 6 ($66) & Holiday Inn ($113) by Lowe’s/Costco to Hilton Garden Inn ($149) & Homewood Suites ($161) near Evergreen Ford and Burger King. The high-end property is a Spring Hill Suites ($189) behind the Target shopping center. Do we hear of crime and transients because of these? No.

    North Bend has 3 “vintage” motels on North Bend Way and a newer facility out at Truck Town. North Bend has transient/crime problems that would exist if there were no motels or a dozen more. The high end, of course, is the Salish Lodge at $271. As the Realtors say, location, location, location.

    This proposal, for a Hampton Inn/Suites, is similar to their location in Bellevue, which is high end for this region at $179. Who would use it? There are approximately 13,000 residents of Snoqualmie and another 6,500 in North Bend (many more in unincorporated areas and down to Preston) whose visitors have very limited choices unless they choose very expensive, very inexpensive, or Issaquah. Sales professionals visiting the region for Nintendo or Spacelabs face the same conundrum. If some of the successful tenants in the Ridge industrial park wanted to hold a business conference, they currently have no local options.

    Perhaps more importantly, suppose your dear sister, her husband, and her three kids come to visit from Sacramento (or _____). Perhaps you want them underfoot for a week, perhaps not, but this would give many of us a happy option and not one waaay down the hill in Issaquah.

    The Ridge’s retail community – mainly restaurants – would surely welcome any incremental business. Our Old Snoqualmie businesses would benefit as well, with extra tourism business for the many interesting businesses there.

    Like many of the writers here, I wish development was slower. Shoot, in many ways, I’d like to dial the clock back to 1956. But we deal in realities and the Seattle/Bellevue region is expanding as an economic and technology hub. Change happens whether we wish it or not though we can nudge it a bit in directions we prefer. The Hampton proposal seems like an asset to me and a useful addition that will benefit the community overall.

    • Nobody is objecting to a hotel.
      We can agree that a hotel would be good for the community.
      But this is the wrong location. The tallest building in all of Snoqualmie will sit directly on the Parkway at the center of town where most residents will never step foot in the place? Really? Build something that complements the existing downtown with some utility for residents. And move the hotel closer to the freeway where it makes more sense and there is at least one perfect lot already available.
      The city planners made some effort to make the new Safeway and Bartell unobtrusive. Your comparison rings entirely false. This building will have no setback and will tower over the Parkway.
      I agree with David G… why does of city have such a wiff of desperation?

  13. Hi R.J. – Not all who are against this project are against having a hotel somewhere else in Snoqualmie, just not on the main road to the city – that is our curb appeal, and this structure 5 stories tall right on the parkway without any green screen is not consistent with what was intended for Snoqualmie Parkway.
    There are residents that will be looking at a 5 story building out their front door (across Snoqualmie Parkway), currently their view is of Douglas Fir trees, some of which are 100 years old. That’s abrupt!
    Would you have a 5 story hotel across the street from your front door? There may be a few that would be OK with that, not me.
    The point of the Issaquah hotel is that it has the same developer as the hotel in North Bend, which started in 2011 and they still haven’t really done much except clear trees – it’s mostly dirt; the same developer is working on both North Bend and Issaquah. Since the location in Issaquah is steep – a good contractor could handle replacing the retaining wall and would probably improve the integrity of the hill for the homes up above -BUT, this develooper has one project that we know of that they started and stopped – FOR YEARS – if that happens in Issaquah, I wouldn’t want to own a home above a project with a developer that has projects that they don’t finished for years.

  14. Hi R J – The Hampton Inn in Bellevue doesn’t have residents across the street from it on any side of the building. You can check it out on Google Maps, Google Earth.

  15. R. J. Farr says

    Hi Peggy

    I was using the Hampton Bellevue as an example that it is not a chain of 2nd rate properties as some have alluded. It would be on par – or nearly so – to any of the Issaquah properties. As for the siting, any of these will be built adjacent to a Parkway or a major interchange. The older motels in North Bend are there because that is the old highway over the Pass. One doesn’t place a McDonald’s or a hotel where access is not totally visible and traffic plentiful. The existing industrial park is, happily, mostly below visual grade but the same cannot be said of the new development involving Safeway. Additionally, it is a fair assumption that commercial utilities and water/sewer are on the proposed site where if tucked away in an inconspicuous corner the infrastructure would require huge additional sums.

    I get what you are saying about a handful of residents losing a view. I can imagine that those around the new elementary are not thrilled with the increased traffic and the noise. We used to live a block from Skyline High and it was a negative aspect. But short of building it underground, there will always be some who are more encroached upon than others. Our place is on a hill so the view out my front door is of the rising neighbor’s yards and then their 2-story homes which completely blot out any view of a horizon. Yet we’re situated in an area with so much natural beauty around us that we barely notice that shortcoming.

    As for the sacrificial trees. It is ironic that we live in a former forest now re-citified with ash, willows and oaks. Thankfully, we have greenbelts and reserves throughout the Ridge to remind us.

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