Cascade Land Conservancy changes name to Forterra

November 8, 2011

Cascade Land Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental group involved in numerous conservation projects in Issaquah and elsewhere, is now Forterra.

The organization announced the name change early Nov. 2. Leaders said the shift reflects the Seattle-based organization’s expanding mission.

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Cascade Land Conservancy changes name to Forterra

November 2, 2011

NEW — 9 a.m. Nov. 2, 2011

Cascade Land Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental group involved in numerous conservation projects in Issaquah and elsewhere, is now Forterra.

The organization announced the name change early Wednesday. Leaders said the shift reflects the Seattle-based organization’s expanding mission.

In 2005, the then-Cascade Land Conservancy established the Cascade Agenda — a long-range planning effort for the region. Issaquah is a Leadership City for Cascade Agenda — meaning long-range planning is meant to envision the local community, environment and economy for the century ahead.

Longtime Forterra President Gene Duvernoy also offered early support for the city-led effort to preserve Park Pointe, a forested site near Issaquah High School, from development into a subdivision.

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Safeway proposes Issaquah Highlands store

October 18, 2011

City Council allows gas station for grocer, a key factor in decision 

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

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

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

In a unanimous decision, council members adjusted the agreement between the city and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities to allow a gas station in the neighborhood. The council also added rules to the development agreement to require a gas station to be built alongside a grocery store.

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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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Residents can comment on proposed highlands gas station

September 27, 2011

The city and Issaquah Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities plan to restart the discussion next month about a proposed gas station in the hillside neighborhood.

Citizens can comment on the proposal at a City Council public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 in the Council Chambers at City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way.

Before construction can proceed on a highlands gas station, the council must amend the agreement between the city and Port Blakely to allow such a facility in the neighborhood. The original agreement prohibits a highlands gas station due to concerns about possible groundwater contamination.

The proposed amendments under consideration Oct. 3 address environmental protection standards and design expectations, and outline regulations, for a highlands gas station.

The gas station proposal almost reached the council in December 2009, but Port Blakely executives pulled the request at the last minute.

Opponents claim a gas station is a poor fit in a neighborhood touted as “green” and pedestrian friendly. In the past, proponents billed the proposed gas station as a cutting-edge “energy station” featuring alternative fuels and electric-vehicle charging stations.

City, King County leaders flip switch on zHome

September 20, 2011

Issaquah and King County leaders gathered Sept. 14 to flip the switch on zHome, the first zero-energy, carbon-neutral multifamily community in the United States.

Built to use zero net energy and 70 percent less water than a traditional home, Issaquah, King County and other partners collaborated to open the 10-townhouse complex in the Issaquah Highlands. The project is meant to serve as a model for incorporating “green” elements into mainstream homebuilding.

King County Executive Dow Constantine (right, at lectern) prepares to address the crowd at the opening of zHome in the Issaquah Highlands on Sept. 14. Contributed

County Executive Dow Constantine joined Mayor Ava Frisinger to open the facility at a ceremony in the zHome courtyard.

“This pioneering project sets a new standard for how homes can — and should — be built in our region and country,” Frisinger said in a statement. “Our vision is that zHome’s innovative approach will catalyze the market for much ‘greener’ building materials and technologies, as well as inspire the next generation of homebuilders through examples that are replicable and market rate.”

The project included aggressive benchmarks to set a different standard in “green” homebuilding. Units in zHome range from the low $400,000s to the $600,000s.

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City, King County leaders flip switch on zHome in Issaquah Highlands

September 14, 2011

King County Executive Dow Constantine (center, at lectern) prepares to address the crowd at the opening of zHome in the Issaquah Highlands on Wednesday. Contributed

NEW — 4:45 p.m. Sept. 14, 2011

Issaquah and King County leaders gathered Wednesday morning to flip the switch on zHome, the first zero-energy, carbon neutral multifamily community in the United States.

Built to use zero net energy and 70 percent less water than a traditional home, the city, county and other partners collaborated to open the 10-townhouse complex in the Issaquah Highlands. The project is meant to serve as a model for incorporating “green” elements into mainstream homebuilding.

County Executive Dow Constantine joined Mayor Ava Frisinger to open the facility in a ceremony in the zHome courtyard.

“This pioneering project sets a new standard for how homes can — and should — be built in our region and country,” Frisinger said in a statement. “Our vision is that zHome’s innovative approach will catalyze the market for much greener building materials and technologies, as well as inspire the next generation of homebuilders through examples that are replicable and market rate.”

The project included aggressive benchmarks to set a different standard in “green” homebuilding. The zHome team said the project used almost 80 percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood, low-toxicity materials and salmon-friendly practices at the site.

The photovoltaic panels on the rooftops capture sunlight in the summer and create energy for the units and the regional grid. In the winter, as the units pull power from the grid, the energy use evens out to zero.

The city spearheaded the project, alongside King County, Built Green — a nonprofit program focused on sustainable construction — highlands developer Port Blakely Communities, Puget Sound Energy and the Washington State University Energy Program. Ichijo USA, a subsidiary of a large Japanese homebuilder, and local builder Matt Howland built the units.

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YWCA Family Village at Issaquah opens

August 16, 2011

Lizzie Webb stands aside the railing to top-floor residences at her apartment building looking over the YWCA Family Village at Issaquah and a view of Squak and Cougar mountains. By Greg Farrar

The airy apartment on the top floor at YWCA Family Village at Issaquah, a long-planned affordable housing complex, is a refuge for Lizzie Webb.

The longtime Issaquah resident relocated to the complex before anyone else, in late May, and created a sanctuary from domestic abuse in the cozy space.

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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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