Port Blakely announces plan to build highlands shopping center

July 12, 2011

A view east toward Ninth Avenue Northeast shows the 14 acres being considered by Florida-based Regency Centers for a 175,000-square-foot shopping center in the Issaquah Highlands. By Greg Farrar

The plan to add more stores to the Issaquah Highlands, a subject responsible for much grumbling among neighborhood residents and city leaders, lurched ahead July 5, as highlands developer Port Blakely Communities announced a deal to sell 14 acres for a proposed shopping center.

If the deal is completed, as executives hope, construction could start as early as next year. The announcement also prompted some residents to point to similar — albeit unsuccessful — attempts in the past.

The agreement calls for Regency Centers, a real estate investment trust based in Florida, to purchase about 14 acres of highlands land and build a 175,000-square-foot shopping center along Northeast High Street and Northeast Park Drive — a site once set aside for a stylish retail destination called The High Streets.

Regency Centers also plans to acquire a retail-and-office building along Northeast Park Drive. Caffe Ladro and other businesses occupy the building’s 39,000 square feet.

The companies did not disclose terms of the transaction. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

Jacksonville-based Regency Centers owns almost 400 shopping centers from coast to coast, including Pine Lake Village and Sammamish Highlands on the Sammamish Plateau.

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Library offers prizes for teens to film book reviews

June 7, 2011

Some books make great movies, especially if they have a great director.

For the third consecutive year, the King County Library System is holding the Read.Flip.Win Video Book Review Contest, open to middle and high school students.

Library staff members invite teenagers to shoot a short video about a book they have read. The contest has two categories — video book review and video trailer — allowing participants to create a review for the book or to film a trailer about it.

All videos must be three minutes or less.

“It’s totally a fun contest,” Issaquah teen services librarian Jessica Gomes said. “It’s a highly interactive way of sharing what you’re reading with other people.”

Once teenagers create their video, they have to post it on YouTube and give it the tag, “RFWkcls2011.” Participants can enter as many videos as they want, and each submission must have a registration form.

The deadline for the contest is July 31. A panel of librarian judges will award the winners Aug. 27 during a red carpet event at the King County Library System Service Center in Issaquah.

The top winner in each category will receive a $150 gift card to Best Buy, purchased by the KCLS Foundation. The judges will award mini Oscars to other creative entries.

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Tuition hikes affect college decisions

January 25, 2011

Tuition hikes at Washington public universities make higher education an even bigger investment

By Ehrik Aldana

Over the next two years, tuition at the University of Washington and other state universities is expected to increase up to 11 percent per year. Washington’s community colleges would see increases of about 9 percent per year. And that still won’t be enough.

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Issaquah tragedies, triumphs define a tumultuous year

December 28, 2010

Traffic lines up on state Route 900 at Northwest Talus Drive in February. State Department of Transportation crews completed the long-running project in 2010. By Greg Farrar

The economy lurched from the recession, population growth all but stalled and Issaquah — after cutbacks and setbacks in 2009 — defied the odds to reach major milestones throughout 2010.

Momentum returned in 2010 after a year spent in a holding pattern. Set against the backdrop of a fragile recovery, leaders cut the ribbon on businesses and roads, laid the foundation for preservation and construction, and marked tragedies and successes. Read more

Best Buy opens long-awaited Issaquah store

November 20, 2010

NEW — 9:45 a.m. Nov. 20, 2010

Best Buy opens at 10 a.m. Saturday — just in time for the holiday shopping rush.

The store, located near Fred Meyer in the East Lake Center plaza along East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast, stretches across almost 40,000 square feet.

The store offers familiar Best Buy services, including the Geek Squad tech support team.

Best Buy started hiring employees for the store in early October.

The store occupies the former La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries and Pacific Fabrics spaces. In February, Best Buy — headquartered in Richfield, Minn. — announced plans to open a store in Issaquah. La-Z-Boy closed in June.

Best Buy clears permit hurdle

August 17, 2010

The city has OK’d a part of a plan to turn vacant storefronts into electronics retailer Best Buy.

City planners approved the initial permit to modify the former La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries and Pacific Fabrics spaces along East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast. The city announced the approval Aug. 11.

Best Buy plans to use 38,830 square feet of the available 45,440 square feet for a store. The leftover space will remain available for a future tenant.

Besides changes to the interior, the project calls for revisions to the delivery and service driveway, and loading dock, behind the building. The plan also includes modifications to the building exterior.

The plan does not include any proposed changes to the parking lot or the access from the retail center and the road.

The applicant has requested additional signage for the store. The city plans to handle the signage issue as a separate permit.

Planners continue to review separate permits for interior and exterior alterations, plus proposed public works changes.

In February, Best Buy — headquartered in Richfield, Minn. — announced plans to open a store in Issaquah. La-Z-Boy closed in June.

City planners mull Best Buy permit

July 20, 2010

The planned Best Buy at East Lake Center inched closer to reality earlier this month, as city planners started reviewing a permit application from the electronics chain.

Best Buy seeks to remodel the former La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries in the shopping center along East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast.

Plans call for Best Buy to occupy the former furniture store and the long-empty Pacific Fabrics space. The store should open by early 2011.

Best Buy has proposed to modify the front of the building, as well as the truck-loading dock in the back. In order to accommodate the updated delivery area, the chain has proposed added landscaping to the north, east and west sides of the building.

In February, Best Buy — headquartered in Richfield, Minn. — announced plans to open a store in Issaquah. La-Z-Boy closed last month.

City planners mull Best Buy proposal

July 8, 2010

NEW — 10 a.m. July 8, 2010

The planned Best Buy at East Lake Center inched closer to reality Wednesday, as city planners started reviewing a permit application from the electronics chain.

Best Buy seeks to remodel the former La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries in the shopping center along East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast.

Plans call for Best Buy to occupy the former furniture store and the long-empty Pacific Fabrics space. The store should open by early 2011.

Best Buy has proposed to modify the front of the building, as well as the truck loading dock in the back. In order to accommodate the updated delivery area, the chain has proposed added landscaping to the north, east and west sides of the building.

In February, Best Buy — headquartered in Richfield, Minn. — announced plans to open a store in Issaquah. La-Z-Boy closed at the site last month.

Best Buy to replace La-Z-Boy

June 8, 2010

La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries along East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast will close by early July in the busy East Lake Center shopping complex anchored by Fred Meyer and The Home Depot. La-Z-Boy will clear out merchandise in a closeout sale.

But the space might not be empty for long. National electronics retailer Best Buy plans to open a store in the fall or early next year in the La-Z-Boy space and in the former Pacific Fabrics space next door. Best Buy and city officials announced the plan in February.

Furniture store relocates, new businesses open

May 11, 2010

Leathers Home Furnishings & Accessories, the longtime Northwest Gilman Boulevard furniture store, will soon relocate to the former Linens-N-Things storefront in Pickering Place.

Owner Mitch Setlow said he plans to open the new Leathers by May 15 and, for the next several weeks, run a closeout sale from both the Pickering Place and Gilman Square locations. Setlow plans to close the original Leathers in June.

“We’re not going, we’re growing,” he said.

The store will depart the 8,000-square-foot Gilman Square location after 14 years for the 37,500-square-foot Linens-N-Things space. Linens-N-Things closed after liquidators shut down the bankrupt chain in late 2008.

Leathers, as the name implies, offers high-end leather furniture. Setlow said the store also plans to offer mattresses and bedroom furniture, dining room pieces and additional accessories in the larger space.

The store planted a red-and-black balloon on the store roof to announce the closure. Expect to see the balloon on the roof at Pickering Place, too, as the relocated Leathers welcomes shoppers.

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