Gilman Square redevelopment plan raises retail worries

November 19, 2013

Requiring retail development might be discussed in the Central Issaquah Plan’s first progress report.

Still in the beginning phases, the redevelopment of Gilman Square into three five-story residential buildings has raised questions on the City Council due to the plan’s lack of retail space.

Though the city asked several times for developer Lennar Multifamily Investors to allow for bottom-floor retail space, Lennar declined, opting to proceed with its vision to build 340 new residences on the site.

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Gilman Square plan could add 340 residences

October 22, 2013

Contributed This architectural drawing shows the three building proposed for a redeveloped Gilman Square.

This architectural drawing shows the three building proposed for a redeveloped Gilman Square.

A pre-application for three five-story buildings at Gilman Square could mark the first test of the Central Issaquah Plan.

Developer Lennar Multifamily Investors wishes to turn the 6.7-acre site, the home of Lombardi’s Restaurant until it shut its doors in July, into a large residential location. They entered talks with the city in September before submitting a pre-application in early October.

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Lombardi’s closes to make room for Gilman Square redevelopment

June 11, 2013

After 22 years in Gilman Square, Lombardi’s Italian Restaurant is closing July 28.

Owner Diane Symms learned two years ago that there would definitely not be a renewal on the lease for the land. After searching for options to stay in the city and not finding any viable opportunities, she said they had to leave.

“It’s hard to believe it’s flown by this fast,” Symms said. “We had known it would be a possibility that the lease wouldn’t be renewed. It’s still sad. We tried.”

After the initial Lombardi’s location opened in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle 25 years ago, Symms said that opening the second location in Issaquah was a good move for the company. She said it was the flagship location and brought in the most money for the company during the mid-2000s. The restaurant has since opened new locations in Everett and Mill Creek.

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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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New, relocated businesses boost Issaquah economy

May 4, 2010

The local economy has improved since last year, but increased retail offerings and high-profile construction projects could help the city rebound in the months ahead.

Economic Development Manager Dan Trimble said the city had progressed beyond the economic doldrums of last year. Joe’s — the longtime sporting goods retailer — closed as the city grappled with dual real estate and building construction slowdowns brought on by the recession.

“In 2010, we started to see the economic recovery start to take hold,” Trimble told City Council members April 27. “We’ve had some new retail moving in, both big and small. Construction activity has been returning.”

Swedish Medical Center started construction on a campus in the Issaquah Highlands late last year, and Best Buy and Sports Authority will open Issaquah stores in the months ahead. Sports Authority will occupy the old Joe’s space, and Best Buy will fill vacant space in the bustling East Lake Center shopping complex anchored by Fred Meyer and The Home Depot.

Sports Authority should generate $85,000 to $100,000 annually in sales tax revenue for the city; Best Buy should pull in $100,000 to $200,000, city Finance Director Jim Blake said in a May 1 conference call with council members.

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Think community, shop locally

February 23, 2010

When the winter snowstorms of December 2008 blanketed the Issaquah area, local shops and businesses experienced a spike in revenue. Shoppers stayed nearby, rather than brave snow and ice on the roadways to Bellevue or Seattle.

But once the weather cleared up, things were back to normal, said Matthew Bott, CEO of the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber and its member business owners want “normal” to be as it was when it snowed. That’s why they recently launched a “Shop Issaquah” campaign to bring awareness of the benefits of spending your money locally.

“When you shop locally … it develops the character of the community,” said Darlene Cohen, manager of the Gilman Antique Gallery, located in Gilman Square on Gilman Boulevard.

Her 17,000-square-foot antique mall is the largest antique mall on the Eastside, and offers one-of-a-kind arts, collectibles and gifts from vendors who have sold in Issaquah for 20 years or more. Each vendor is another entrepreneur, keeping commerce alive and well in Issaquah.

Other local businesses strive to be unique while filling a niche for their customers. Some local shops make room for youngsters to play in the corner while adults shop. Other businesses lead the way in community service. And almost all prefer to hire local employees whenever possible.

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Top 10 news stories of 2009

December 29, 2009

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Sisters Jennifer Davies, Julianne Long and Mindy Heintz (from left) retrieve belongings Jan. 8 from the toppled guesthouse at the home of their parents, Jack and Karen Brooks, beside Issaquah Creek in the 23300 block of Southeast May Valley Road. — By Greg Farrar

Growth slowed and the economy cooled throughout 2009. The watershed moments in Issaquah hinged on expansion and recession. Leaders broke ground for a major new employer, even while other businesses left town for good.

Issaquah began the first decade of a new century as a fast-growing city, a title the city held for years. As 2009 reached a close, however, officials pared the size of government to face the new economic reality.

From January floods to record July heat and brutal December cold, 2009 was jam-packed, but the year was never dull.

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City reviews last flood, prepares for future crises

November 3, 2009

David Bramwell (left) shovels sand into a bag held by Bruce Wendt in a sandbagging practice run for CERT volunteers last week. Courtesy of Brenda Bramwell

David Bramwell (left) shovels sand into a bag held by Bruce Wendt in a sandbagging practice run for CERT volunteers last week. Courtesy of Brenda Bramwell

Floodwaters caused about $1 million worth of damage and left behind piles of debris and muck when Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks overflowed in January, but the disaster also readied emergency planners for the next flood.

The next time flood waters rise, volunteers will fan out across flood-prone neighborhoods and city officials will unleash a deluge of information about water levels, road closures and recovery efforts. Many of the procedures were tested during what officials characterized as a successful response to the major flood in mid-January.

But the next flood could occur as early as the next several weeks, and officials said work remains to be done to prepare Issaquah for another natural disaster. On Oct. 27, City Council members received a briefing about the response to the January flood and preparation efforts for the upcoming flood season.

City Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Campbell said readings from a pair of flood gauges did not correlate with the damage caused by floodwaters. A U.S. Geological Survey gauge downstream on Issaquah Creek appeared inaccurate, Campbell said. The gauge indicated about 2,500 cubic feet per second, Campbell said, but flood damage was similar to the 3,500 cubic feet per second estimate from the last major flood to hit Issaquah, in 1996. Read more

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Learn about FEMA flood grants tonight

September 10, 2009

NEW — Noon Sept. 10, 2009

Officials will hold a final pair of meetings about the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program at 7 tonight in the Pickering Room at City Hall Northwest, 1775 12th Ave. N.W.

City officials will apply for cash through the program. The grants, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are set up to help prevent future flood losses at commercial and residential buildings.

The proposed project includes elevating first floors of up to eight homes and flood-proofing three commercial buildings to prevent floodwaters from causing extensive damage to the buildings.

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Flood cleanup to be costly, lengthy

February 17, 2009

When Issaquah Creek overflowed its banks six weeks ago, rising waters left the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery with at least $20,000 damage. Water damaged the hatchery foreman’s house and an office used by hatchery volunteers. Four inches of mud coated the hatchery parking lot.

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