Port Blakely president will step down Jan. 15
January 12, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
Port Blakely Communities President Alan Boeker will step down Jan. 15, the company announced last week. The executive will leave as the Issaquah Highlands developer works to bring additional commercial options to the decade-old community.
René Ancinas, president and chief operating officer of parent company Port Blakely Companies, will assume responsibilities for the real estate division. Ancinas will work alongside Judd Kirk — a senior vice president, the chief real estate strategist and a key player in establishing the vision for the highlands — and other managers after the transition.
A statement from the company said Boeker would “pursue other development opportunities in the real estate industry.”“I’m a builder, have been for a long time, and I will be working in the building industry in the area,” Boeker said in a later interview.
Boeker joined Port Blakely in 2007, after stints at several California developers, where Boeker helped develop the Playa Vista community in Los Angeles and a 3,500-unit complex in Huntington Beach, Calif.
In Issaquah, the tenure included milestones as the highlands boomed and reached more than 7,000 residents.
Gov. Chris Gregoire and other dignitaries broke ground for a Swedish Medical Center campus in the community in October. The project will create more than 1,000 jobs by the time the entire hospital opens in 2012.
The community reached another milestone in December, when dignitaries broke ground for a YWCA affordable-housing complex. Elsewhere, volunteers continue construction on Habitat for Humanity houses. Plans for the highlands also include a Regal movie theater.
But problems with the highlands’ urban village concept — with homes, offices and shops built within close proximity — came to the fore as the economy soured. The situation meant Boeker faced a sometimes-unforgiving job.
“We’ve done a lot of the right things to keep the value of the community high” and position the highlands for the economy recovery, Boeker said.
Residents grumbled throughout 2009 about the pace of commercial development in the community. A plan to allow a highlands gas station sputtered in late December. Deals to bring a grocery store to the community faltered as well.
Boeker listed the YWCA, Habitat for Humanity and Zero Energy Home, or zHome, project as accomplishments. The stalled zHome project — a plan to build 10 townhouses designed to produce as much electricity as the units consume — should be revived within the next few months.
Mayor Ava Frisinger lauded Boeker for efforts to bring more affordable housing to the highlands.
“I found him to be a good person to work with,” she said.
Frisinger said Boeker faced challenges in Issaquah because he lacked early history with Port Blakely Communities. City Major Development Review Team Manager Keith Niven said Boeker encountered a learning curve in the highlands role.
Kirk, however, said Boeker learned about the highlands quickly, and understood residents’ needs and concerns.
The new year will include increased engagement with residents as executives work to allow a gas station — billed as a cutting-edge “energy station” — and increase businesses in the community. Port Blakely also seeks a partner to complete commercial development in the highlands.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.