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Providence Heights

New elementary and high school

KC Parcel Viewer View - City Church Providence Heights PropertyWith a board resolution in July 2016, the Issaquah School District began preliminary proceedings to exercise eminent domain to acquire the Providence Heights College property, which is currently owned by the City Church of Kirkland. The nearly 40-acre property, located by the northern border of the City of Issaquah nearby the Sammamish Plateau, is unique in its prime location to alleviate crowding at both Skyline and Issaquah High. It is also a rare piece of single-owner property spacious enough for both a new comprehensive high school as well as a new co-located elementary. 

Providence Heights College was built by the Sisters of Providence in 1961. The City Church intended to demolish the buildings when it bought the campus in 2008. Initially, the City made the demolition permit contingent upon City Church safely removing the chapel’s historic stained-glass windows, created by renowned French artist Gabriel Loire, and returning them to the Sisters of Providence for preservation. Even so, a group of community members made a wider appeal to the City of Issaquah to preserve the property as a historical landmark. In July 2017, the City of Issaquah Landmark Commission approved the entire campus as a historic landmark, including the chapel, surrounding buildings, landscaping/open space, and forested areas. In September 2017, an Issaquah hearing examiner ruled in favor of the appeal of the demolition permit and ordered the city to conduct a new review of the property. 

The City Church is now appealing the decision, and the timeline to reach a conclusion could be lengthy as the matter potentially works through city, county, and state courts. Until the issue is resolved, our eminent domain proceeding to acquire the property is on hold. 

*Parcel image courtesy of King County Parcel Viewer 2.

What now?

We are in a holding pattern, which is a challenge. The Providence Heights property is our current best option for a new high school with the added bonus of space for a new elementary. We may be forced to look for other properties, however, if it becomes apparent that the historic-landmark legal proceedings will tie up the property for years ahead. We simply don’t have that kind of time, in terms of immediate need to alleviate overcrowding in the north and central areas of the district as well as construction cost escalations that we did not plan for in the bond funds. To find another suitably large and well-situated site for a high school will be very difficult. If we are unable to locate property for the new school near the students it will serve, the alternative will be bussing those students longer distances. We want to avoid that option, but our options are becoming truly limited.