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Thursday, January 24, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Issaquah OKs Microsoft mega-campus, but some still worry about traffic load

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

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ISSAQUAH — The city has approved Microsoft's overall plans for a 152-acre campus on Grand Ridge just north of Interstate 90 and the old downtown.

The company envisions 15 office buildings, 14 parking garages and up to 3.4 million square feet of office space.

The Urban Village Development Commission voted unanimously late Tuesday to grant Microsoft a site-development permit, which lays out the general appearance and shape of its proposed campus in the Issaquah Highlands urban village.

Microsoft will still have to seek permits for construction of individual buildings, and road improvements must accompany the development.

Some residents have worried that the city may not plan sufficiently for the traffic woes that such a campus will bring. An environmental study mentioned 8,850 people working on the campus, while Microsoft's permit application said 12,000 to 15,000 would eventually work there.

But Lucy Sloman, the city's lead planner for permit applications, said the 8,850 figure was not used in computing the effects of traffic Rather, she said, a formula was used that relies on the total square footage of office space, a standard practice that should approximate the expected work force.

Regardless, the commission decided Tuesday that it did not have the authority to change the method of measurement in the original agreement.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said earlier this month that the company has set no timetable for construction. Some site grading is expected to begin this year, however.

In addition to the large office campus, the Highlands will eventually have 3,250 housing units and a retail center.

Chris Solomon can be reached at 206-515-5646 or csolomon@seattletimes.com.

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