November 22, 2011
Say no to $3 million for highlands developer
The developers of the proposed Issaquah Highlands retail center have asked the city to kick in $3 million for infrastructure improvements.
They’ve got to be kidding!
We’re glad to see the city encouraging economic development, but this is not the right project.
Regency Centers, a Florida-headquartered strip mall developer, estimates the city could receive about $1 million each year in sales tax revenue once the retail center is up and running. “Could” is the operative word.
The anchor tenants would be Safeway with a gas station and Regal Cinemas. Those food, gas and entertainment purchases are primarily already purchased in Issaquah, so the net gain “could” be slim.
Regency Centers operates almost 400 retail complexes from coast to coast. It’s laughable to think that the company could not complete the project without $3 million from the city of Issaquah.
The city’s limited economic development investments should be used to help entrepreneurs or developers that Issaquah has targeted as beneficial to the overall well-being of the city, those that bring diverse businesses, offer high-paying jobs, are environmentally attractive and compliment Issaquah’s vision of itself and other businesses.
Ironically, the design proposed for the Issaquah Highlands is just the sort of plan the city is trying to move beyond on the valley floor, preferring limited parking, pedestrian-friendly spaces and mixed-use buildings. The highlands plan recalls the old days of retail development — strip centers fronted by acre upon acre of parking lot.
Admittedly, it is difficult to forget the grand plans once envisioned for Grand Ridge. The idea of a retail destination, with condos built above shops, was appealing then and remains appealing today. Regency Centers’ proposal is uninspired.
Taxpayers, be prepared to get mad. Let Regency Centers know that conceding to yet another a strip mall is about the only concession the city of Issaquah “could” be prepared to make.