Bellevue College construction in Issaquah could start next year

October 25, 2011

City, college partner to plan Issaquah campus

Bellevue College could start construction on a campus in the Issaquah Highlands as early as next year, college and city officials announced, as the project gains momentum despite budget cuts and a dismal forecast from Olympia.

The college purchased about 20 acres last year in a complicated transfer of development rights designed to preserve Tiger Mountain forestland from construction and open additional highlands land to builders.

“In a time when a lot of the news in our part of world is very depressing, in terms of budget cuts and things, this is something we can look forward to,” Laura Saunders, Bellevue College interim president, said in a presentation to City Council members Sept. 27. “This is a way of building to the future.”

Throughout the summer, crews built and paved a road to access the planned campus.

Keith Niven, city Major Development Review Team program manager, said the timetable for construction is a surprise.

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Council allows Issaquah Highlands gas station despite concerns

October 11, 2011

Opponents raise questions about groundwater contamination

City Council members, eager to attract more retail options to the Issaquah Highlands, decided a gas station can open in the neighborhood, but only if groceries accompany the fill-ups.

The council agreed in a 7-0 decision Oct. 3 to change the agreement between the city and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities to allow a gas station in the community. Concerns about possible groundwater contamination led city officials to ban gas stations in the highlands before construction on the neighborhood started in the mid-1990s.

Safeway outlined plans for a gas station to accompany a proposed highlands store, and city officials and gas station proponents said the rule change is a crucial step to attract the grocery chain. The gas station is proposed for a funnel-shaped lot between Ninth Avenue Northeast and Highlands Drive Northeast, next to a future Safeway.

The debate before the council decision exposed a split among highlands residents eager for more amenities in the community, and residents from elsewhere concerned about potential groundwater contamination from gas station leaks.

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Safeway proposes highlands store, council OKs gas station

October 5, 2011

Safeway planners proposed a modern Issaquah Highlands store (above) in a permit application to the city. Contributed

NEW — 4 p.m. Oct. 5, 2011

The plan to open a grocery store in the Issaquah Highlands — a still-unmet target from early goals for the community — reached a milestone Monday, as Safeway submitted a proposal for a store in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, City Council members adjusted longstanding development rules Monday to allow a gas station in the highlands — a critical factor in Safeway’s proposal to build the store.

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City launches $50,000 study to determine how departments coordinate, collaborate

August 2, 2011

Ava Frisinger

Consultants started interviewing employees at City Hall last month, as leaders embark on a $50,000 study to determine how municipal departments function and the city delivers services to businesses and residents.

Mayor Ava Frisinger selected Seattle consultant Moss Adams to examine the Building, Planning and Public Works Engineering departments, in addition to economic development efforts. The focus is on organization and a still-nascent effort to anticipate future service needs.

“It’s always beneficial for organizations to say, ‘How are we doing? Might there be places we could improve?’ Because we want to do the very best that we can at providing services,” Frisinger said. “That’s our mission — we want to do it effectively, not just efficiently.”

Construction in Talus and the Issaquah Highlands — urban villages and the impetus behind the Major Development Review Team — is slowing after a construction boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In addition, the city is refocusing planning efforts on the Central Issaquah Plan — a redevelopment outline for the 915-acre commercial core along Interstate 90.

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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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