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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Meet Issaquah’s board, commission appointees

May 1, 2012

City leaders appointed a group of civic-minded citizens to boards and commissions April 16.

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Effort to boost local economy focuses on competitiveness

April 3, 2012

Issaquah faces ‘much more aggressive’ cities in hunt for businesses

In another step to attract businesses to Issaquah and encourage existing entrepreneurs to remain in the city, leaders promised a more robust economic development effort March 27 in a series of other changes to City Hall.

In recent months, officials unveiled a plan to streamline the permitting process for businesses, create a municipal Economic Vitality Commission and add employees dedicated to economic development.

The effort is meant to turn Issaquah into a more desirable place to do business than other Eastside cities. The competition among cities for businesses is fierce, especially since the recession caused construction to lag.

“Communities are much more aggressive and much more competitive for the amount of economic development that exists out there,” City Administrator Bob Harrison said in a presentation to the City Council.

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Northwest Paddling Association picks Issaquah for annual event

March 27, 2012

The Northwest Paddling Association has tabbed Issaquah and Lake Sammamish State Park as the future location of its annual Paddling Festival.

The event will feature paddling industry vendors, product demonstrations, kayak tours and more, according to the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce.

The first event on Lake Sammamish is set for May 11-12.

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City creates commission to attract, retain businesses

February 14, 2012

City leaders continued the latest push to bolster economic development Feb. 6 and created a municipal Economic Vitality Commission — another piece in the effort to attract entrepreneurs to Issaquah and retain existing businesses.

City Council members formed the commission to handle a marketing plan to attract businesses, consider opportunities to improve signage options for merchants, review municipal permitting and inspection processes, and produce annual report cards on strategies recommended in the 2005 Economic Vitality Plan. The commission is expected to offer regular updates to the mayor and council.

The idea for a commission stems from a goal council members set at a May 2011 retreat to outline priorities for 2012.

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Mayor focuses on economy in State of the City address

February 7, 2012

Mayor Ava Frisinger highlighted a more muscular economic development effort and a reshuffled City Hall structure in the State of the City address — the speech to set Issaquah leaders’ agenda for the months ahead.

The address, delivered Feb. 6, days after the city announced employee layoffs, echoed a top priority from the City Council — a concerted effort to attract businesses to Issaquah and convince established businesses to remain in the city. The effort to remake City Hall functions also dominated the speech.

Ava Frisinger

“A major focus for 2012 will be enhancing our economic vitality, which is a community’s capacity to be economically competitive, resilient and attractive to both private and public enterprise,” Frisinger said.

Under a reorganization plan prepared by Seattle consultant Moss Adams and delivered late last year, the city focused on efficiency and effectiveness. The consultant discovered different cultures, expectations and management styles across municipal departments. Moss Adams pointed out the differences in coordination, scheduling and tracking across departments.

“In the end, our goal is to enhance customer service, find efficiencies and prepare our city for the years and decades ahead,” Frisinger said.

Though the reorganization emerged as a strong theme, Frisinger also used the address to spotlight ongoing projects.

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City seeks applicants for municipal boards, commissions

February 7, 2012

City leaders need civic-minded citizens to offer advice on key issues as municipal board and commission members, even as officials remain undecided about just how many such groups Issaquah needs.

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City announces employee layoffs amid reorganization

February 7, 2012

Officials announced cuts to the city workforce — including six layoffs — Feb. 1, as City Hall launches a broad reorganization.

Overall, leaders reduced staff through layoffs, a severance program and vacancies. The total includes five positions eliminated through voluntary separations and two vacant positions.

Because limited funding is available for capital projects, officials did not need as many employees for engineering and inspection functions. In November, officials announced plans to start employee layoffs in February.

The city also plans to add three positions for a beefed-up economic development effort. The plan is for Keith Niven, the longtime Major Development Review Team manager, to serve as economic development director and hire economic development managers.

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Issaquah mayor focuses on economy in State of the City address

February 7, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Feb. 7, 2012

Mayor Ava Frisinger highlighted a more muscular economic development effort and a reshuffled City Hall structure in the State of the City address — the speech to set Issaquah leaders’ agenda for the months ahead.

Ava Frisinger

The address, delivered Monday, days after the city announced employee layoffs, echoed a top priority from the City Council — a concerted effort to attract businesses to Issaquah and convince established businesses to remain in the city. The effort to remake City Hall functions also dominated the speech.

“A major focus for 2012 will be enhancing our economic vitality, which is a community’s capacity to be economically competitive, resilient and attractive to both private and public enterprise,” Frisinger said.

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City seeks applicants for municipal boards, commissions

January 30, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 30, 2012

City leaders need civic-minded citizens to offer advice on key issues as municipal board and commission members, even as officials remain undecided about just how many such groups Issaquah needs.

The city needs applicants for openings on 12 boards and commissions. The groups advise the City Council on issues related to the arts, cable TV, development, parks and, in more specialized realms, city cemetery operations and sister-city relationships.

Officials need regular and alternate members. Applicants for board and commission posts do not need to reside in Issaquah.

Applicants undergo interviews before Mayor Ava Frisinger recommends appointees to council members for confirmation. The council usually confirms appointees in the spring. Terms for appointees start in May.

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