Officials to break ground June 19 on Issaquah Highlands retail complex

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.

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City Council bans plastic bags at Issaquah retailers

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.

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FootZone closes local store, but hints at possible relocation

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.”

Issaquah liquor store to close May 29 before changeover

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.”

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Liquor sales expand in Issaquah, statewide June 1

May 15, 2012

Jeffrey Roh, of Milton, purchased the right to sell spirits at a liquor store under construction in the Klahanie Shopping Center. By Greg Farrar

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.

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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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City Council delays decision on plastic bag ban

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.

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Stores say no more ‘pink slime’ in meat cases

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.

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City Council to decide plastic bag ban soon

March 27, 2012

The proposal to ban plastic bags from Issaquah stores reaches the City Council for a public discussion April 2.

The city could join Bellingham, Edmonds, Mukilteo and Seattle to ban plastic bags at local retailers — a step designed to limit garbage headed for the King County landfill and reduce pollution in Puget Sound.

Issaquah council members could decide to vote on the measure or continue the discussion at a later meeting.

“The goal isn’t just to get everyone to switch from plastic to paper, it’s to get people to switch from bags that you use once to bags that you reuse,” Councilman Mark Mullet said.

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Impact Studio Pro rolls innovation into video production

March 6, 2012

 Impact Studio Pro staff includes (from left) software developer and CASTUS Vice President Jon Campbell, ISP Director and Editor Nathan Bosseler, Project Manager Elaine Bosseler, Bellevue College Web developer intern Alex Elsayed and 3-D artist Jahn Flaatrud. By Greg Farrar

Inside the video marketing agency Impact Studio Pro, a Mountain Dew-fueled operation creates TV commercials, promotional spots, public service announcements and music videos for more than 100 clients.

The tiny company operates from a converted Issaquah Highlands apartment, a space referred to as the “think tank” by founder Nathan Bosseler. The office overlooks rooftops and the Issaquah Alps. Bosseler uses a space designed for a bedroom as the executive suite.

Major clients include the Issaquah Schools Foundation, Gene Juarez Academy, Hyundai of Kirkland, and municipal governments in Sammamish and SeaTac.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce leaders spotlighted Impact Studio Pro as a business innovator in the Innovation in Issaquah contest late last month.

The chamber also honored Marketing Masters and Lakeside Center for Autism as innovators. The carbon-neutral community zHome also received a nod as the most innovative public-private partnership.

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