Northwest NEWS

August 30, 1999


Work begins on The Willows Lodge

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--Work has begun on The Willows Lodge, designed as an 88-room, two-story "boutique style" hotel, in the Salish Lodge and Woodmark Hotel class. The site is located next to the Columbia Winery and Red Hook Brewery on NE 145th, in Woodinville's Tourist District.

   The hotel will cater to visiting corporate executives during the week and tourists seeking "soft adventure" on weekends, according to a hotel representative. City dwellers looking for a little rural relaxation could benefit from the adjacent Sammamish River bike trail and winery tours and concerts at Ste. Michelle. Close proximity to local golf courses is also considered a plus.

   Hotel management is negotiating with owners of The Herbfarm Restaurant to relocate their four-star restaurant in the hotel. The Herbfarm's original Fall City restaurant was destroyed by fire, and has temporarily relocated at the Hedges Cellars in Issaquah.

   Several city and state permit issues have frustrated construction efforts, pushing back the hotel's expected opening date until sometime next summer. Assuring seismic stability, meeting storm drainage requirements, and getting state approval on appropriate access to SR-202 (NE 145th) all forced lengthy delays.

   As of last week, the state access approval was the last remaining hurdle. But that is a major holdup, since the position and location on the hotel site depends on where the state allows them to build the entrance. The adjacent bike and auto bridges over the river impact those decisions, according to City of Woodinville Permits Director Dean McKee.

   "The hotel was given a conditional permit to prepare the ground on a 'proceed at your own risk' basis, with conditions of design changes, depending on their ability to get on and off the property," said McKee. "The seismic issue is a normal requirement for all building in the valley. As an old lake bottom, full of silt, peat, and other organic substances, it would tend to liquify during quakes. All buildings must sit on solid ground.

   "There are different ways to mitigate the liquification factor. Red Hook built on deep pilings. Willows Lodge used a method called 'preloading.' They piled several feet of dirt on the site, which packs the silt down and settles it. Then they take off the preload, before grading and laying the foundation."

   To mitigate environmental impact on the river, Willows Lodge received approval from Red Hook to share their storm drainage water retention facility, said McKee. Awaiting state approval on any project that impacts state highways always involves long delays, due to the long list of projects the state must review, he said.