Construction starts on 17 Talus townhouses

August 2, 2011

Talus developer Intracorp is building 17 townhouses, shown in the artist's rendering above. Contributed

Talus developer Intracorp is building 17 townhouses in the 630-acre urban village on Cougar Mountain.

Construction is under way in the Centerra at Talus neighborhood and Intracorp expects sales on the three-level units to start soon.

“These homes are being built for the homeowner who wants to live in a community that offers easy access to the vibrancy of urban living and the serenity of the outdoors,” Jeff Smallwood, Intracorp vice president of marketing and sales, said in a news release. “There’s no better value in today’s residential marketplace.”

Centerra at Talus offers townhouses from 1,186 square feet to 1,920 square feet. Plans call for the homes to feature garages wired for electric-vehicle plug-in terminals.

The sales center for the project is on track to open in September.

The project includes environmentally sound materials and home-building practices.

“This Centerra at Talus project will provide a number of full-time jobs for construction workers, and help to boost the local economy — which is something that we’re very proud of given today’s economic climate,” Smallwood said.

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Port Blakely announces plan to build highlands shopping center

July 12, 2011

A view east toward Ninth Avenue Northeast shows the 14 acres being considered by Florida-based Regency Centers for a 175,000-square-foot shopping center in the Issaquah Highlands. By Greg Farrar

The plan to add more stores to the Issaquah Highlands, a subject responsible for much grumbling among neighborhood residents and city leaders, lurched ahead July 5, as highlands developer Port Blakely Communities announced a deal to sell 14 acres for a proposed shopping center.

If the deal is completed, as executives hope, construction could start as early as next year. The announcement also prompted some residents to point to similar — albeit unsuccessful — attempts in the past.

The agreement calls for Regency Centers, a real estate investment trust based in Florida, to purchase about 14 acres of highlands land and build a 175,000-square-foot shopping center along Northeast High Street and Northeast Park Drive — a site once set aside for a stylish retail destination called The High Streets.

Regency Centers also plans to acquire a retail-and-office building along Northeast Park Drive. Caffe Ladro and other businesses occupy the building’s 39,000 square feet.

The companies did not disclose terms of the transaction. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

Jacksonville-based Regency Centers owns almost 400 shopping centers from coast to coast, including Pine Lake Village and Sammamish Highlands on the Sammamish Plateau.

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Bellevue homebuilder purchases 48 Issaquah Highlands lots

May 31, 2011

Taylor Development, a Bellevue-based real estate firm, is joining Issaquah Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities to foster development in the Harrison Street neighborhood, a ritzy collection of custom homes perched on Grand Ridge.

The real estate firm purchased 48 lots in the neighborhood for $6.36 million. Taylor Development and Port Blakely announced the deal May 23.

The sale encompasses more than half of the lots along Harrison Street. The neighborhood includes about 90 home sites. So, far 35 have been sold, and of those, 24 are completed or under-construction.

The neighborhood features a panorama — on clear days, at least — of the Bellevue and Seattle skylines, plus the Olympic Mountains.

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City Council sells highlands land to Bellevue homebuilder

May 24, 2011

City Council members agreed May 16 to sell Issaquah Highlands land — a scrap measuring 16,000 square feet — to a homebuilder and set aside dollars from the sale to improve municipal parks.

The city stands to receive $191,496 for the parcel near the planned 15th Avenue Northeast extension and Northeast College Drive construction.

Bellevue-based developer Polygon Northwest is building the Forest Ridge at Issaquah Highlands neighborhood near the site and intends to add the parcel to the community.

The homebuilder could create three lots for single-family detached homes on the site.

“As a new member to the Issaquah Highlands community, we want to do what’s in the best interest of the community, and we feel that this fits that goal,” Ben Rutkowski, development project manager for Polygon Northwest, told council members.

The council agreed in a unanimous decision to sell the land, but members raised questions about how to use dollars from the sale, as well as road access to possible homes on the site.

Keith Niven, city Major Development Review Team program manager, said the city created the site after carving up a larger parcel.

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City Council sells Issaquah Highlands land to homebuilder

May 18, 2011

NEW — 3 p.m. May 18, 2011

City Council members agreed Monday to sell Issaquah Highlands land — a scrap measuring 16,000 square feet — to a homebuilder and set aside dollars from the sale to improve municipal parks.

The city stands to receive $191,496 for the parcel near the planned 15th Avenue Northeast extension and Northeast College Drive construction. The land measures 16,000 square feet, or about the size of a typical Bartell Drugs.

Bellevue-based developer Polygon Northwest is building the Forest Ridge at Issaquah Highlands neighborhood near the site and intends to add the parcel to the community.

The homebuilder could create three lots for single-family detached homes on the site.

“As a new member to the Issaquah Highlands community, we want to do what’s in the best interest of the community, and we feel that this fits that goal,” Ben Rutkowski, development project manager for Polygon Northwest, told council members.

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College Drive construction starts soon in highlands

April 26, 2011

Construction should start in early May on a road to access the Bellevue College satellite campus planned for the Issaquah Highlands.

Crews plan to start staging equipment and clearing land for Northeast College Drive soon. City permits for the project need to be issued before roadwork can start.

Plans call for the road to snake for about a half-mile behind Grand Ridge Elementary School and link to the existing street grid at Central Park. In addition, the road through The Highlands at Wynhaven apartment complex is due to be improved and turned into 15th Avenue Northeast. College Drive is planned to form a T-shaped intersection at 15th Avenue.

The road should be completed at about the same time as the start of the 2011-12 school year.

Though the project is not far from the Grand Ridge Elementary campus, the road is not designed to alleviate congestion during busy mornings and afternoons at the school.

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City preserves Tiger Mountain forest in historic milestone

March 29, 2011

Park Pointe protection occurs after years long effort to stop proposed construction

By Dona Mokin

The long-running saga to preserve Park Pointe — a slice of Tiger Mountain forest near Issaquah High School — ended late March 24, after more than a decade of public and behind-the-scenes negotiations to halt construction of hundreds of houses once proposed for the land.

The tradeoff: Under the agreement, city leaders steered construction from Park Pointe to the Issaquah Highlands instead, and, as a result, preserved more than 140 acres in the process.

“I think that this will transform the community in a very, very positive way,” Mayor Ava Frisinger said, minutes after the deal closed. “It has the three elements of sustainability. It has the environment — the environmental protection and preservation. It has a huge social element. It has economic vitality benefits as well.”

The historic conservation effort is part of a complicated transfer of development rights.

City planners and officials shepherded the agreement through the arduous process after Frisinger outlined the landmark opportunity to preserve Park Pointe in late 2008.

In the years since, representatives from the city, highlands developer Port Blakely Communities and other partners pursued the project until the recession scuttled the developer behind the proposed Park Pointe development.

Since a Seattle bank foreclosed on the land from the defunct developer last March, the preservation effort lurched into gear. Issaquah and King County officials adopted a series of agreements late last year to advance the process.

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Press Editorial

March 29, 2011

Preserving Park Pointe is a triumph for entire city

The momentous effort to preserve Park Pointe is complete.

Issaquah leaders and residents can celebrate after more than a decade of squabbling and maneuvering to stop hundreds of homes from rising on the land.

The transfer of development rights benefits the entire city.

Park Pointe, a majestically named parcel on Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School, is forever preserved as public open space. So, too, is a 43-acre forest near Central Park in the Issaquah Highlands.

In exchange, homebuilders can construct up to 500 residences on 35 acres in the highlands. Despite the large figure, developers proposed far fewer homes for the site.

The deal protects land ill-suited for development and shifts construction to a site near roads and utilities.

In addition, the added residents to the highlands could help attract the retail businesses promised to neighborhood residents so long ago.

The deal is not perfect, but the benefits outshine the problems.

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Census: Issaquah is home to more than 30,000 people

March 1, 2011

City is more diverse and 170 percent larger than a decade ago

Issaquah is 170 percent larger and more diverse than a decade ago.

The city ballooned to 30,434 people — the result of a population boom fueled by annexations and housing construction. Information from the 2010 Census released Feb. 23 ranks Issaquah as No. 6 on the list of fastest-growing cities in the state during the past decade.

Furniture and belongings are unloaded from a moving truck Feb. 26 for a new resident of Estates on Cougar Mountain at Talus. By Greg Farrar

The population data also depicts Issaquah as a more diverse place than a decade ago.

The city claimed 11,212 residents after the 2000 Census. In the decade since the last decennial count, housing construction boomed in the hillside Issaquah Highlands and Talus neighborhoods. Issaquah also absorbed unincorporated King County communities in large annexations.

The population remains overwhelmingly Caucasian — 75 percent, although the percentage dipped from the 88 percent recorded in the 2000 Census — as more Asian and Latino residents settled in the city.

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Builder plans to add 70 townhouses in the highlands

February 1, 2011

Homebuilder Pulte Homes has purchased land to build 70 townhouses in the Issaquah Highlands, the company announced last week.

The planned neighborhood, Sunset Walk, is on 5.86 acres adjacent to Sunset Park and near planned retail offerings. The project is Pulte Homes’ first foray into Issaquah.

The homebuilder purchased the land from highlands master developer Port Blakely Communities in late December. Urban Village Development Commission and City Council members approved the project late last year.

“We have been looking for the right location and time to expand locally, and this is an excellent opportunity for us to do so,” Pulte Homes Division President for the Pacific Northwest John Ochsner said in a press release.

City Major Development Review Team Program Manager Keith Niven said construction should start in the spring.

Plans call for Sunset Walk to feature five two- and three-story townhouse floor plans ranging from 1,460 to 2,054 square feet.

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