July 3, 2012
Finally, after years of plans and promises, developers and officials gathered in the Issaquah Highlands early June 26 to launch construction on a $70 million retail center in the neighborhood — a long-awaited amenity for residents and, in recent years, a symbol for the anemic economy and rebound.
June 19, 2012
NEW — 6 a.m. June 19, 2012
The groundbreaking ceremony for a long-planned Issaquah Highlands retail complex is delayed until June 26, project organizers announced Monday, a day before the planned event.
Executives at the highlands developer, Port Blakely Communities, and the company behind the retail complex, Regency Centers, attributed the weeklong delay to scheduling conflicts.
“This project remains a top priority for both organizations and we have every confidence that the transaction will close and construction will commence very soon,” Port Blakely CEO René Ancinas and Regency Senior Vice President Craig Ramey said in a joint statement.
The groundbreaking ceremony is planned for the corner of Ninth Avenue Northeast and Park Drive — a vacant stretch envisioned as Grand Ridge Plaza, as the project is called.
June 14, 2012
NEW — 9 p.m. June 14, 2012
City leaders and representatives from Issaquah Highlands developers plan to gather June 19 to break ground on 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.
The proposed retail complex morphed throughout the years to reflect the developers involved and the economy.
In the latest iteration, announced tenants include a Regal Cinemas multiplex, and a Safeway and associated gas station.
Regal Cinemas and Safeway intend to open next year. Other tenants could open in 2013 as well.
June 12, 2012
Ordinance goes into effect for most businesses in March 2013
Issaquah joined a string of cities along Puget Sound to outlaw plastic bags at local retailers June 4, after months of sometimes-acrimonious debate about adverse impacts to the marine environment and the regional economy.
In the end, concerns about the environment led the City Council to decide 5-2 to eliminate most retail uses for plastic bags. The legislation — and a 5-cent fee on paper bags — go into effect in March 2013 for most businesses.
The council listened to advocates from environmental groups and the plastics industry in public meetings throughout April and May, and then again before the decision.
The plastic bag ban sponsor, Issaquah Highlands entrepreneur and City Councilman Mark Mullet, presented the legislation as a way to reduce the estimated 10 million plastic bags the city sends to the King County landfill each year.
June 5, 2012
FootZone, a destination for runners and walkers, closed June 1 after 13 years in Issaquah.
The store operated in the Issaquah Commons shopping center near Safeway and REI.
In a post on the store’s website, the staff announced plans to eventually relocate to another space in Issaquah, once the right location becomes available. In the meantime, former shoppers at the Issaquah store can head to FootZone locations in Bellevue and Redmond.
The other stores plan to honor family plans and frequent buyer cards from the Issaquah location.
“After over 13 years, it is with a heavy heart that we have closed the Issaquah FootZone,” the staff wrote in the website post. “We want to thank all of you for supporting us over the years. It has been an honor to build relationships and get to know all of you over the years.”
May 24, 2012
NEW — 2 p.m. May 24, 2012
The state-run liquor store in Issaquah is due to close May 29, as the Washington State Liquor Control Board prepares to shift stores from public to private ownership.
Under a state law approved by voters last year, liquor sales by private entrepreneurs can start June 1.
The board auctioned the rights to entrepreneurs to sell liquor at the state-run store in Town & Country Square along Northwest Gilman Boulevard last month. State records show the right to the Issaquah store sold to Seattle merchant Leon Capelouto for $251,000.
“There is a lot of work involved in transferring these stores to private ownership,” Chris Liu, director of retail services for the liquor authority, said in a statement. “This method will ensure that our customers have the ability to buy liquor right up until June 1, when private retailers take over.”
May 15, 2012
The availability of liquor in Issaquah is poised to expand beyond a single storefront next month, as major retailers prepare to add spirits to store shelves and the state completes the process to privatize liquor sales.
Bartell Drugs, Fred Meyer, Front Street Market, Rite Aid, Safeway, Target, QFC, Walgreens and Costco received licenses to sell liquor. (QFC received licenses for the Northwest Gilman Boulevard and Klahanie stores.)
Until the transition to liquor privatization is completed, liquor is available only at a state-run store.
In the meantime, entrepreneurs purchased the rights to apply for a retail spirits license at the state-run liquor store along Northwest Gilman Boulevard and a liquor store under construction in the Klahanie Shopping Center.
State records show the right to the Issaquah store sold to Seattle merchant Leon Capelouto for $251,000. The right to the unfinished Klahanie store sold to Milton entrepreneur Jeffrey Roh for $82,100.
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.
April 10, 2012
The decision to outlaw plastic bags at Issaquah businesses is on hold, City Council members decided April 2 after listening to appeals from environmentalists concerned about Puget Sound pollution and plastics manufacturers anxious about lost livelihoods.
The proposed plastic bag ban at local retailers is meant to limit garbage headed for the King County landfill and reduce marine pollution.
The measure stalled after speakers questioned the scope, timing and lack of input from the businesses affected by such a change. The council opted in a 6-1 decision to postpone further discussions on the plastic bag ban to a still-unscheduled meeting in May.
“It bothers me that in this last week that we were still turning over stones,” Councilwoman Stacy Goodman said before the meeting.
April 3, 2012
Questions about ground beef fly more often across the counter at Fischer Meats since the issue of “lean finely textured beef” — more recognizable by the headline-grabbing nickname “pink slime” — captured the media zeitgeist late last month.
“I’ve probably had a half a dozen people that have mentioned it and said, ‘We’ll never buy ground beef in the grocery store again because of that,” owner Chris Chiechi said April 2. “We have been selling a little more ground beef in the last month. I wouldn’t call it a huge impact.”
Fischer Meats does not use the additive.
The product is made from beef trimmings treated in ammonium hydroxide to eliminate pathogens. The additive is used in ground beef and beef-based products.