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Gold mine.

A neotraditional community features an enclave of homes that strikes an emotional chord with the builder and buyers alike.

Builder Michael Levy. of Lozier Homes personally relates to every style of home he offers at Issaquah Highlands near Seattle. One model with Tudor arch elements reminds him of the neighborhood his wife once Lived in. Another model with a fanlight over the entry typifies Federal style, like houses back east. And so the story goes for each elevation of the five plans.

"The mix of styles provides a timeless quality," says Levy. "So these homes really tug at the heartstrings." Levy isn't the only one who has bought into the imagery of this picturesque neighborhood near a former coal mining site. For Lozier Homes, it has become a gold mine. Last January, the first release of homes sold immediately based solely on a brochure's renderings and floor plans.

Lozier Homes never merchandised a model because it couldn't get a house past framing without making a sale. The company increased prices during the past year, from the mid-$200s to $300,000, in response to demand. The enclave of 34 homes within this master planned community attracts couples and young families with a prime location on the 1-90 corridor for easy commuting to downtown Seattle (and amid rumors that software giant Microsoft optioned land adjacent to the community).

The location may be the enticement, but it's the traditional architecture that makes people want to buy. Architect William Kreager, AIA, of Mithun Partners was hoping for emotional responses from buyers when he dug deep into the past to find design inspiration. He even brought back the Dutch Colonial style with the Laurelhurst model. The design features a double-pitched roof and flared lower caves that extend beyond the front and rear walls to form deep overhangs. From the outset, Kreager envisioned the exterior of the Laurelhurst as being a rich shade of green, a classic choice for a Dutch Colonial home.

Inside the Laurelhurst model, a standard tile entry provides an alternative to the "patch of oak" flooring often found in the foyers of production homes. For a monthly fee, Levy says residents can sign up for a prewired connection that works like a local area network. And buyers who want more living space as opposed to volume can add a bonus room in place of the standard two-story family room. The Laurelhurst also features an attached two-car garage ill the rear, accessible through an alley.

In keeping with the community's neotraditional theme, Kreager designed homes with front porches and a mix of street-facing and alley-loaded garages. Lot sizes range from 40 feet wide for rear garages to 45 feet wide for front-loaded designs. Several homes face a path instead of a street - a planning technique that Levy remembers seeing in old Seattle.

The region's hilly topography elevates homes on the path so views don't orient directly into other homes. Levy says most buyers didn't think twice about buying a home that didn't face the street. They consider it part of the community's charm.

Project: Issaquah Highlands, Issaquah, Wash.; Project size: 4 acres; Density: 8.5 units an acre; Unit size: 1,700 to 2,200 square feet; Average lot size: 3,200 to 3,375 square feet; Price: $269,950 to $308,950; Hard costs: $55 to $60 a square foot; Builder: Lozier Homes, Bellevue, Wash.; Architect: Mithun Partners, Seattle; Land planner: Dahlin Group Architects & Planners, Seattle
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Title Annotation:Lozier Homes at Issaquah Highlands near Seattle, Washington; Builder's Best
Author:Jenkins, Susan
Date:Feb 1, 1999
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