City Council approves pact to transform gravel quarry to urban village

December 25, 2012

The gravel quarry carved into the hillside below the Issaquah Highlands is poised to transform into businesses and homes in the next 30 years, after the City Council approved a landmark development agreement to reshape the area.

The landowner and quarry operator, Issaquah-based Lakeside Industries Inc., proposed the pact last year for about 120 acres on both sides of Highlands Drive Northeast. The council approved the development agreement Dec. 17, despite concerns about building height, traffic congestion and contamination in the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer, a key drinking water source for the city.

“There was a lot of push and pull, a lot of compromise, and I think it’s an agreement that both is good for my family and is also good for the city of Issaquah, and that we will live to see a development on this site that enhances the city,” Lakeside Industries CEO Tim Lee said before the unanimous council decision.

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Community offers support for Lake Sammamish State Park booster group

December 18, 2012

State officials laid the groundwork Dec. 10 for a community organization to support Lake Sammamish State Park as residents met to consider lifelines for the cash-strapped park.

Issaquah and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission listened to ideas for the facility from about 50 attendees at a Tibbetts Creek Manor open house, and received information from about 25 attendees interested in participating in a community organization to support the park.

The event, hosted by the city and state parks agency, launched a discussion about future ventures at Lake Sammamish State Park and what residents hope to see on the park’s 512 acres.

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Lakeside Industries development pact could transform quarry site

December 11, 2012

The gravel quarry on a hillside below the Issaquah Highlands, plus land adjacent to the highlands, could someday transform into businesses and homes, if city leaders approve a long-term agreement to redevelop the site.

The landowner and quarry operator, Issaquah-based Lakeside Industries Inc., proposed a 30-year development agreement last year for about 120 acres on both sides of Highlands Drive Northeast. The proposed pact is scheduled to reach the City Council on Dec. 17, as officials consider a plan to remake the area.

The land under consideration is zoned for mineral resources and single-family residences. The development agreement could change the designation on some areas to urban village, the same rules used for the highlands and Talus.

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Community offers ideas, support for Lake Sammamish State Park

December 11, 2012

NEW — 5 p.m. Dec. 11, 2012

State officials laid the groundwork Monday for a community organization to support Lake Sammamish State Park as residents met to consider lifelines for the cash-strapped park.

Issaquah and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission officials collected information from attendees for a possible community organization to support the park, and listened to ideas about the facility at a Tibbetts Creek Manor open house.

The event, hosted by the city and state parks agency, launched a discussion about future ventures at Lake Sammamish State Park and what residents hope to see on the park’s 512 acres.

In 2007, state parks commissioners approved a bold plan to remake and restore the park, but the economic downturn and state budget crises curtailed dollars to implement the plan.

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Offer ideas for future of Lake Sammamish State Park

December 4, 2012

Lake Sammamish State Park, a 512-acre urban oasis surrounded by Issaquah and a destination long overdue for a makeover, is in the spotlight again as city and state officials seek residents’ ideas for the park’s future.

Issaquah and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission leaders scheduled a Dec. 10 open house about the state park. The event is meant to restart the conversation about options for the park, including a stalled plan approved in 2007 and meant to guide upgrades to aging facilities and the expansion of recreation opportunities.

Options to revive the plan could include a partnership between the state parks agency, city and a nonprofit organization to help the park. The state parks agency is also open to commercial ventures on parkland as a potential way to generate funds for the facility.

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Issaquah retailers prepare for Black Friday rush

November 20, 2012

The day after Thanksgiving, long before the sun rises, open season for bargains starts at retailers throughout Issaquah and beyond.

Black Friday sends shoppers pinging from store to store like a pinball in search of deals — a 32-inch LCD television for $147 at Target, perhaps, or a Blu-ray player for $39.99 at Best Buy. Consumers brave predawn darkness, long lines and sharp elbows to score early-bird bargains.

The boost to retailers’ bottom lines could also offer a jolt to city coffers. Popular Black Friday destinations — including Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Fred Meyer, Target and, of course, Issaquah-based Costco — lure consumers from throughout the region.

Issaquah is a retail hub on the Eastside, and city officials hope the holiday rush resuscitates a flat year for spending. Overall, sales tax revenue forms a key piece in the city budget — a larger share than property tax revenue and permit fees, other main sources of dollars.

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City surveys 2,300 businesses for ideas, input

October 16, 2012

Issaquah leaders put a question to business owners in recent days: How can we help you?

Citywide, all 2,300 businesses started to receive surveys from the economic development team at City Hall last week. The effort is designed to help officials understand business leaders’ concerns and needs.

The data collected from survey responses could influence future decisions related to business regulations, incentives and more.

Not long after joining the staff at City Hall earlier this year, Economic Development Manager Andrea Lehner gathered anecdotal information from business owners from meetings and visits, but, through the process, started to crave more empirical information.

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Issaquah Highlands tenants to include RAM Restaurant & Brewery

October 9, 2012

Tenants for the long-awaited retail complex in the Issaquah Highlands include local restaurants and a beauty supply store, city officials announced Oct. 2, not long before project developers plan to unveil a more complete list of retailers.

The latest announcement for the $70 million highlands project, called Grand Ridge Plaza, adds RAM Restaurant & Brewery, Big Fish Grill and ULTA Beauty to the lineup alongside a Regal Cinemas multiplex, and a Safeway and associated gas station.

Lucy Sloman, city land development manager, and Keith Niven, city economic development director, announced the latest additions to the Urban Village Development Commission.

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Issaquah Highlands retail options to include RAM Restaurant & Brewery

October 3, 2012

NEW — 6 p.m. Oct. 3, 2012

Tenants for the long-awaited retail complex in the Issaquah Highlands include local restaurants and a beauty supply store, city officials announced Tuesday.

The latest announcement for the $70 million highlands project, called Grand Ridge Plaza, adds RAM Restaurant & Brewery, Big Fish Grill and ULTA Beauty to the list alongside a Regal Cinemas multiplex, and a Safeway and associated gas station.

Lucy Sloman, city land development manager, and Keith Niven, city economic development director, announced the latest additions to the Urban Village Development Commission. The project developer, Regency Centers, and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities plan to unveil more tenants at a community meeting Oct. 10.

In another major development for the highlands, Microsoft plans to sell long-vacant land once envisioned for a campus, Niven said.

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Spacelabs Healthcare to leave Issaquah for Snoqualmie

October 2, 2012

Issaquah-based medical device manufacturer Spacelabs Healthcare plans to relocate to Snoqualmie, the company’s CEO announced Sept. 17.

Spacelabs’ parent company, OSI Systems Inc., paid $14 million for a 176,000-square-foot building in the Snoqualmie Ridge Business Park. Spacelabs should complete the move east by next spring.

In Issaquah, Spacelabs leases space in a corporate office park wedged between East Lake Sammamish Parkway and Lake Sammamish State Park.

Issaquah Economic Development Director Keith Niven said Spacelabs ranks among the largest employers in the city.

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