Long awaited Grand Ridge Plaza opens to mass crowds
October 29, 2013
By Peter Clark
New Safeway jams with eager shoppers
Long lines and scarce parking greeted the grand opening of Grand Ridge Plaza Oct. 25.
As Dick’s Sporting Goods, Home Goods, Marshall’s, Ulta Beauty Supply and the long-awaited Safeway opened to ribbon cuttings and crowds of people, Twitter was abuzz with expectant shoppers welcoming the Issaquah Highlands additions, while scorning the lack of parking.
After Friday’s opening flurry passed, parking was no easier in the 320,000-square-foot retail expanse that includes Regal Theaters, BevMo, Jos. A Bank and others. Still, those that made their way down from the Highlands or up from the valley were glad to have the new shops in the $70 million complex.
“This is my second time here this weekend,” Issaquah resident Katie Milne said as she left Home Goods. “It’s great to have the new stores, especially housewares. It’s nice to have a Home Goods here.”
Though she first visited the center on Friday, Milne said she didn’t have many problems.
“Friday was great,” she said. “I’ve heard it was a pain in the morning.”
Inside the store, employees told a similar tale.
“It’s been really good,” Home Goods employee Ashley Muse said as she folded towels among a throng of animated shoppers. “I’ve been here all weekend and the store has been packed.”
While she didn’t hear many negative comments, she was aware of parking constraints.
“It’s hard because this parking lot serves Dick’s, Marshall’s and Home Goods and we all just opened,” Muse said. “It’s kind of hard to find a spot, but we have people out there directing traffic.”
One of those directing traffic was Schonette Scott. As rain misted down Oct. 27 and 28, she wore a bright yellow slicker to assist cars into and out of spots. Red Valet, who was contracted to facilitate the grand opening, employed Scott and the seven or eight others working in the Safeway and Dick’s parking lot.
“I’m not really sure how long we’ll be here,” Scott said as she pushed a discarded shopping cart back up to Marshall’s. “It’s been really busy but not a lot of problems.”
Having worked all weekend, she compared it to any other busy time for bustling retail.
“It’s not any different than Southcenter on Christmas,” she said, confident any parking constraints would ease with time. “It’s been pretty positive over all.”
Across Highlands Drive Northeast, the new Safeway drew attention from Highlands residents. Mayor Ava Frisinger cut the ribbon for its opening Oct. 25 and local high school marching bands played for shoppers Oct. 24. The location brings two things the urban village has lacked in its 15-year history: a supermarket and its associated gas station.
“We’ve lived here for seven years,” Highlands resident Lily Aguilar said along with her shopping companion Brian Smith, as they wound through the shiny new aisles of Safeway. “We’ve been waiting and biding our time to have a supermarket here.”
Other smaller shops opened alongside the bigger boxes Oct. 25. Clothing store Zumiez, Wells Fargo Bank, Starbucks, GNC Nutrition center, Great Clips and the UPS store are all now open for business. Bai Tong Thai Restaurant, TD Curran and Soma Intimates along Highlands Drive Northeast are expected to open later in the year.