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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City works to preserve Tiger Mountain land

May 11, 2010

The long process to preserve the Park Pointe property inched forward last week, as the City Council agreed to initiate the complicated steps to preserve the Tiger Mountain land and, in exchange, allow more residences in the Issaquah Highlands.

Mayor Ava Frisinger proposed the transfer of development rights in September 2008. The recent bankruptcy of the developer behind Park Pointe and subsequent foreclosure on the property by a Seattle bank presented city leaders with the latest opportunity to complete the exchange.

If city officials and landowners can pull off the proposed transfer of development rights, about 140 forested acres will be preserved — 102 acres at the Park Pointe site near Issaquah High School and another 43 acres adjacent to the highlands.

Before the land can be set aside for conservation, however, officials must sign off on separate bills to initiate the transfer of development rights and amend the agreement with highlands developer Port Blakely Communities to address the undeveloped land near the hillside community. The amendment seeks to allow Port Blakely to build 500 additional residential units in a proposed highlands town center.

City Council members referred the dual measures to the Council Major Planning & Growth Committee. Members will discuss the legislation May 24.

“So, what we’ve done is try to develop a scenario that might work in a few different ways that could ultimately lead us to preserving 140-plus acres of open space that the community would see as being a benefit,” Keith Niven, program manager for the city Major Development Review Team, told council members May 3.

Port Blakely owns 78 acres near Central Park in the highlands. Under the existing zoning, the company could develop the unincorporated King County land as five-acre residential properties or for institutional uses, like a church or a school. Instead, Port Blakely offered some of the land for preservation, or as part of the transfer of development rights.

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City seeks Hall of Fame nominees

April 20, 2010

Nominate outstanding citizens for the Issaquah Hall of Fame, the annual honor bestowed by city leaders on someone who has made a lasting contribution to the community.

Every spring, the mayor and City Council president select the honoree. Mayor Ava Frisinger and Council President John Traeger will evaluate nominees on several criteria, such as civic-mindedness, leadership and service.

Frisinger and Traeger will also evaluate the role a person plays in drawing positive attention to Issaquah and fundraising for the public good. Length of service will be a factor in the decision as well.

Send the name of the nominee and a brief summary of his or her contributions to the community to: The Office of the Mayor, P.O. Box 1307, Issaquah, WA 98027-1307. Or submit the nomination via e-mail to mayor@ci.issaquah.wa.us.

The nominations must be received by May 3. Call 837-3020 or e-mail mayor@ci.issaquah.wa.us to learn more. Evaluators will maintain confidentiality throughout the selection process.

The recipient or recipients will be announced at the 31st Annual Community Awards Luncheon on May 18.

Past honorees include Harriet Fish — the historian who led the drive to name a ferry after Issaquah — environmentalist Ruth Kees and, last year, Issaquah Highlands mastermind Judd Kirk and Issaquah Valley Trolley backer Barb Justice.

In a separate honor, the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce named Frisinger as Citizen of the Year at the 2009 luncheon.

City seeks Issaquah Hall of Fame nominees

April 16, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. April 16, 2010

Nominate outstanding citizens for the Issaquah Hall of Fame, the annual honor bestowed by city leaders on someone who has made a lasting contribution to the community.

Every spring, the mayor and City Council president select the honoree. Mayor Ava Frisinger and Council President John Traeger will evaluate nominees on several criteria, such as civic-mindedness, leadership and service.

Frisinger and Traeger will also evaluate the role a person plays in drawing positive attention to Issaquah and fundraising for the public good. Length of service will be a factor in the decision as well.

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City intends to preserve Park Pointe regardless of ownership

March 2, 2010

The developer behind the stalled Park Pointe project and a Seattle bank cancelled a hearing in bankruptcy court last week, as the case appears to near a coda. Read more

Issaquah Highlands developer lowers expectations for retail

February 9, 2010

About 120 Issaquah Highlands residents attend a town hall meeting Feb. 3 at Blakely Hall to hear and discuss the state of continuing retail development plans by Port Blakely Communities for the planned neighborhood. Photo by Greg Farrar

Port Blakely outlines plan for stores, holds back on timeline

The sales pitch sounded almost too good to be true.

People migrated to the Issaquah Highlands in droves, many enticed by plans for restaurants, a grocery store, a cinema, a health club — enough amenities and stores to allow them to forgo trips to Bellevue and Seattle.

The leasing brochure for The High Streets — a chic retail center planned for the highlands — promised “a highly desirable mix of internationally recognized retailers as well as distinct local favorites and neighborhood retail services.”

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Port Blakely executives promise better communication with highlands residents

February 3, 2010

About 120 Issaquah Highlands residents attend a town hall meeting Feb. 3 at Blakely Hall to listen and discuss the state of retail development plans for the 10-year-old neighborhood. — Photo by Greg Farrar

NEW — 10:55 p.m. Feb. 3, 2010

Port Blakely Communities pledged to communicate better and more often with Issaquah Highlands residents, after company executives acknowledged a slump in contact between the highlands developer and the community.

The company hosted a meeting Thursday, where neighborhood residents quizzed executives about still-unrealized plans to bring more retail options to the hillside community.

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Highlands’ future is focus of meeting

February 2, 2010

Judd Kirk returns to answer questions

Judd Kirk

Port Blakely Communities executives will re-engage Issaquah Highlands residents, 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’ lack of 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. 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

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