Highlands storage facility construction starts next month

April 13, 2010

A developer plans to break ground on a self-storage facility near the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride next month.

The facility will include 500 storage units, including 800 square feet of climate-controlled space for wine storage. Plans call for the facility to open next March.

The building will stand taller than surrounding buildings, including the transit lot. Other projects planned for the area (such as a movie theater) or under construction (YWCA Family Village at Issaquah) could help the storage facility blend in with surrounding structures. Crews broke ground last week on zHome, a collection of 10 townhouses designed to produce as much electricity as the units consume. The complex will be built on about a half-acre near the YWCA housing.

The developer said the design of the storage facility would include energy-saving features.

The storage facility will become the latest project under construction in the highlands, where the recession has slowed development. Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities seeks a new development partner in order to complete the retail vision for the highlands. The latest plan offered by the developer includes the storage facility, a grocery store, the movie theater and a gas station.

Chastened Port Blakely promises better communication

February 9, 2010

Port Blakely Communities executives admitted missteps and pledged last week to communicate better and more often with Issaquah Highlands residents. Read more

Developer will answer Issaquah Highlands residents’ questions about growth

January 26, 2010

NEW — 5:15 p.m. Jan. 26, 2010

Port Blakely Communities executives will re-engage Issaquah Highlands residents in the days ahead, as the developer works to answer questions about the community’s future.

The outreach follows a busy year for the highlands developer, when officials broke ground on large-scale projects in the community, and residents grumbled about the highlands’ retail offerings.

Judd Kirk — a Port Blakely senior vice president, the chief real estate strategist and a key player in establishing the vision for the highlands — spearheaded the outreach effort.

Kirk and René Ancinas, the president and chief operating officer of parent company Port Blakely Companies, assumed responsibilities for the highlands after former Port Blakely President Alan Boeker resigned Jan. 15.

Kirk will outline a development strategy for the highlands in meetings Wednesday and Feb. 3. The initial meeting will be limited to highlands community leaders, but the Feb. 3 town hall meeting will open to the public. The town hall meeting will be 6-7:30 p.m. at Blakely Hall, 2550 N.E. Park Drive.

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Port Blakely president will step down Jan. 15

January 12, 2010

Alan Boeker

Alan Boeker

Port Blakely Communities President Alan Boeker will step down Jan. 15, the company announced last week. The executive will leave as the Issaquah Highlands developer works to bring additional commercial options to the decade-old community.

René Ancinas, president and chief operating officer of parent company Port Blakely Companies, will assume responsibilities for the real estate division. Ancinas will work alongside Judd Kirk — a senior vice president, the chief real estate strategist and a key player in establishing the vision for the highlands — and other managers after the transition.

A statement from the company said Boeker would “pursue other development opportunities in the real estate industry.” Read more

Port Blakely Communities President Alan Boeker will resign next week

January 8, 2010

NEW — 2:14 p.m. Jan. 8, 2010

Port Blakely Communities President Alan Boeker will step down Jan. 15, the Issaquah Highlands developer announced Thursday.

René Ancinas, the president and chief operating officer of parent company Port Blakely Companies, will assume responsibilities for the real estate division. Ancinas will work alongside Judd Kirk — a senior adviser and a key player in establishing the vision for the highlands — and other managers after the transition.

A statement from the company said Boeker would “pursue other development opportunities in the real estate industry.”

Boeker joined Port Blakely in 2007. The tenure included milestones as the highlands boomed and grew to include more than 7,000 residents.

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Commission will re-examine delayed highlands project

January 4, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 4, 2010

City development commissioners will re-examine a proposal to build 240 residences in the Issaquah Highlands, when the panel meets Tuesday night.

The city Urban Village Development Commission postponed the project less than a month ago. Commissioners delayed the project in a bid to demand answers from highlands developer Port Blakely Communities about commercial development in the community.

A Bellevue company, Devco, proposed the residential units for 9.5 acres bordered by Northeast Discovery Drive to the north and Highlands Drive Northeast on the west. The proposal includes apartments, townhouses and stacked flats.

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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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Highlands gas station decision is delayed

December 29, 2009

Questions about commercial development in the Issaquah Highlands prompted developer Port Blakely Communities to ask city officials to postpone a decision on a highlands gas station. Read more

Port Blakely asks City Council to delay gas station vote

December 21, 2009

NEW — 9:20 p.m. Dec. 21, 2009

Port Blakely Communities asked the City Council to delay a planned Monday night vote to allow a gas station in the Issaquah Highlands.

The highlands developer asked the council to postpone the vote until Port Blakely addresses commercial development in the hillside community. The council was set to consider a change to the agreement between and the city and Port Blakely to allow a highlands gas station, banned when the agreement was drafted due to concerns about groundwater contamination.

Proponents and Port Blakely executives billed the gas station as a cutting-edge “energy station” with alternative fuels and electric-vehicle charging stations.

“Conversations about the energy station with both the city and the local community have been very productive over the past few months,” Port Blakely President Alan Boeker wrote in a Dec. 21 letter to Mayor Ava Frisinger. “The strong merits of the energy station, however, are often overshadowed by a larger question — the timing on the successful development of a vibrant mixed use town center.”

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Vision for highlands will be focus as City Council debates gas station

December 15, 2009

A proposal to allow a gas station in the Issaquah Highlands has become the latest flashpoint in the ongoing debate about how development in the hillside community measures up to the vision offered by the developer and the city.

The dispute centers on a revision to the development agreement between the city and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities to allow a gas station to be constructed in the community. Supporters said highlands residents want a gas station for convenience and safety, when severe weather occurs and residents need fuel. Detractors argued that a gas station would be a poor fit for a community billed as “green” and pedestrian-friendly.

The amendment would overhaul the development pact between the city and Port Blakely to allow gas stations in the decade-old community. The revision includes tight language to limit what developers and operators could do with the property.

Besides gasoline, the operator would be required to offer at least one alternative fuel and three electric-vehicle charging stations. The agreement also requires the building to meet eco-friendly building standards and utilize photovoltaic panels or wind turbines to generate at least some energy for the facility. The features are part of the “energy station” concept advanced by Port Blakely executives.

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