Highlands grocery store deal off
May 5, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 10:15 p.m. May 5, 2009
A Central Market grocery store will not open in the Issaquah Highlands, city officials and a project developer said tonight. Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities planned to open a 50,000 square foot store in mid-2010.
Highlands residents have long lamented the lack of a grocery store in the hillside community. Port Blakely is negotiating with other grocery chains to occupy the site, said Kathy Burnaman, Port Blakely’s vice president of project development.
Blame a tough economy for the delay. The downturn has slowed other long-planned retail offerings in the highlands. Burnaman said talks with other grocers are ongoing.
“Due to the economy and the grocery industry, Central Market has decided not to expand here currently,” she said. “What that does mean is that we’re currently in talks with other grocers and negotiating a new deal.” Central Market is an imprint of Town & Country Markets, which operates six groceries across the Puget Sound region.
A Town & Country Markets representative could not be reached tonight.
Burnaman addressed members of the city Urban Village Development Commission, which oversees projects in the highlands and Talus. She said a grocery store would be part of the first phase of new commercial development in the highlands
“We will have a grocer in Phase 1, but we don’t have a name to announce today,” Burnaman said.
Urban Village Development Commission Vice Chairman John Milne said most development in the highlands has been residential. He asked what plans Port Blakely had for commercial construction.
In addition to the grocery, plans for Phase 1 call for construction of a movie theater surrounded by retail space and restaurants. Plans also call for construction of a parking garage with about 545 stalls.
“Leasing is very positive right now,” Burnaman said. “It’s slower than we would like, but it’s good considering what’s happening nationally.”
Financing for the project has been tough to secure amid the recession.
“While today, a construction financing package is not available to a project our size, we do anticipate having something available to us by early next year,” Burnaman said.
She said Port Blakely would continue to work on site plans and seek city development permits.