Friday, February 15, 2008

East phase begins for Redmond Ridge

Construction has begun at Redmond Ridge East, the long-delayed final phase of a 4,750-home urban village along Novelty Hill Road. Under a new developer, the project will feature high-end homes approaching $1 million in price.

The 800-home development east of Redmond will join Redmond Ridge and Trilogy as the third piece of a development that was mired for more than a decade in legal challenges over traffic and noise.

Construction is finished at Redmond Ridge and will wrap up within a couple of years at Trilogy. Redmond Ridge East was not approved until 2006, when Quadrant Homes, the original developer, reached an agreement with King County and Redmond to build there concurrently with road improvements.

Quadrant began preparing lots on the property last summer and then, in the fall, sold the land to Murray Franklyn, a Bellevue development company.

Quadrant officials say the current real-estate market supports higher-end homes, approaching $1 million, at Redmond Ridge East. Building for that market isn't Quadrant's specialty, said President Peter Orser, but it is for Murray Franklyn.

In an initial phase over the next 2 ½ years, the Bellevue company plans to build 224 homes. It began marketing them last month.

Even with a downturn in the housing market, the Redmond area has enough high-tech employees looking for higher-end homes to support the pricier development, said Steve Hiller, a partner at Murray Franklyn.

The Redmond Ridge developments have drawn complaints over the years because of the long traffic backups resulting on Novelty Hill Road.

Murray Franklyn is bound by a 2006 agreement that will limit how many homes it can build before contracts are signed to widen Novelty Hill Road, as well as the intersection of Northeast 124th Street and Woodinville-Redmond Road.

King County officials say construction is to start late next year to widen a part of Novelty Hill Road to five lanes, and probably create a new thoroughfare running along 196th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Union Hill Road.

The county is synchronizing signals along Avondale Road to improve traffic flow, and Redmond is set to widen the 124th/Woodinville-Redmond intersection next year. Murray Franklyn executives say these projects will improve traffic, even if delays aren't eliminated.

"I don't think you're going to ever take [delays] away, but is it going to ease pressure?" Hiller said. "Undoubtedly."

Redmond officials, who fought the urban village just outside the city for several years, said the 2006 accord addressed their biggest concerns, including the signal and intersection improvements.

"Actions are being taken to mitigate the growth, and we're satisfied that we have a deal that's fair to Redmond residents," Mayor John Marchione said.

Most Redmond Ridge East homes will sell for $550,000 to $900,000, but about 240 units — apartments, town houses or small homes — will be set aside for people making close to the King County median household income.

No comments: