Construction starts on long-awaited Issaquah Highlands retail center

July 3, 2012

Earth-moving equipment works at the intersection of Highlands Drive Northeast and Northeast High Street on June 26 as construction starts on Grand Ridge Plaza. By Autumn Monahan

Finally, after years of plans and promises, developers and officials gathered in the Issaquah Highlands early June 26 to launch construction on a $70 million retail center in the neighborhood — a long-awaited amenity for residents and, in recent years, a symbol for the anemic economy and rebound.

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Groundbreaking for Issaquah Highlands retail complex delayed until June 26

June 19, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. June 19, 2012

The groundbreaking ceremony for a long-planned Issaquah Highlands retail complex is delayed until June 26, project organizers announced Monday, a day before the planned event.

Executives at the highlands developer, Port Blakely Communities, and the company behind the retail complex, Regency Centers, attributed the weeklong delay to scheduling conflicts.

“This project remains a top priority for both organizations and we have every confidence that the transaction will close and construction will commence very soon,” Port Blakely CEO René Ancinas and Regency Senior Vice President Craig Ramey said in a joint statement.

The groundbreaking ceremony is planned for the corner of Ninth Avenue Northeast and Park Drive — a vacant stretch envisioned as Grand Ridge Plaza, as the project is called.

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Construction could start on Issaquah Highlands retail center soon

May 8, 2012

More options to shop and dine in the Issaquah Highlands could open as soon as next year, after a landmark decision by city officials to approve a long-awaited retail complex in the neighborhood.

Regency Centers, a real estate investment trust based in Florida, intends to build the retail complex, dubbed Grand Ridge Plaza, on vacant land along Highlands Drive Northeast between Swedish/Issaquah and the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride. Construction could start as early as next month.

The decision by the Urban Village Development Commission represents a milestone in the stop-and-go effort to add more retail options in the neighborhood. The commission — a city board to oversee large-scale projects in the highlands and Talus — OK’d the site development permit for Grand Ridge Plaza in a May 1 decision.

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Developer requests $3 million from city for Issaquah Highlands retail center

November 22, 2011

In order to complete a long-planned business district in the Issaquah Highlands — and transform 14 acres into a cinema, shops, restaurants and more than 1,700 parking stalls — the developer behind the project said about $3 million in city funds is needed.

The developer, Florida-based Regency Centers, said the highlands project needs the dollars to complete roadwork and other infrastructure.

Regency and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities announced a deal in July to sell the land for a retail center, but before Regency completes the deal, company planners asked city leaders to commit public dollars to the project.

City officials said the retail complex could generate about $1 million in sales tax revenue each year.

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Press Editorial

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.

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Developer requests city funding to complete Issaquah Highlands retail center

November 17, 2011

NEW — 9 p.m. Nov. 17, 2011

In order to build more stores in the Issaquah Highlands — and transform 14 acres into a cinema, shops, restaurants and more than 1,700 parking stalls — the developer behind the project said about $3 million in city funds is needed.

The developer, Regency Centers, said the highlands project needs the dollars to complete roadwork and other infrastructure.

Florida-based Regency Centers and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities announced a deal in July to sell the land for a retail center, but before Regency Centers completes the deal, company planners asked city leaders to commit public dollars to the project.

Port Blakely is also expected to contribute about $1 million to the project after shifting dollars from other commitments, such as a planned bus route expansion to the highlands.

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Safeway proposes Issaquah Highlands store

October 18, 2011

City Council allows gas station for grocer, a key factor in decision 

Safeway planners proposed a modern Issaquah Highlands store in a recent permit application to the city. Contributed

The plan to open a grocery store in the Issaquah Highlands — a still-unmet target from early goals for the community — reached a milestone in early October, as Safeway submitted a proposal for a store in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, City Council members adjusted longstanding development rules to allow a gas station in the highlands — a critical factor in Safeway’s proposal to build the store.

In a unanimous decision, council members adjusted the agreement between the city and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities to allow a gas station in the neighborhood. The council also added rules to the development agreement to require a gas station to be built alongside a grocery store.

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Safeway proposes highlands store, council OKs gas station

October 5, 2011

Safeway planners proposed a modern Issaquah Highlands store (above) in a permit application to the city. Contributed

NEW — 4 p.m. Oct. 5, 2011

The plan to open a grocery store in the Issaquah Highlands — a still-unmet target from early goals for the community — reached a milestone Monday, as Safeway submitted a proposal for a store in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, City Council members adjusted longstanding development rules Monday to allow a gas station in the highlands — a critical factor in Safeway’s proposal to build the store.

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Residents can comment on proposed highlands gas station

September 27, 2011

The city and Issaquah Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities plan to restart the discussion next month about a proposed gas station in the hillside neighborhood.

Citizens can comment on the proposal at a City Council public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 in the Council Chambers at City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way.

Before construction can proceed on a highlands gas station, the council must amend the agreement between the city and Port Blakely to allow such a facility in the neighborhood. The original agreement prohibits a highlands gas station due to concerns about possible groundwater contamination.

The proposed amendments under consideration Oct. 3 address environmental protection standards and design expectations, and outline regulations, for a highlands gas station.

The gas station proposal almost reached the council in December 2009, but Port Blakely executives pulled the request at the last minute.

Opponents claim a gas station is a poor fit in a neighborhood touted as “green” and pedestrian friendly. In the past, proponents billed the proposed gas station as a cutting-edge “energy station” featuring alternative fuels and electric-vehicle charging stations.

Highlands developer hires consultant for commercial growth

June 1, 2010

Grocery store delayed again

Issaquah Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities has hired a Seattle real-estate consultant to help jumpstart commercial development in the hillside community.

Heartland, the consultant, will help guide Port Blakely in the tough economy, and help the developer in the hunt for a partner to develop a planned town center of businesses and residences along Highlands Drive Northeast.

“Port Blakely hired Heartland to help give them some new strategic direction,” John Shaw, a director at Heartland, told City Council members last week.

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