Issaquah Highlands on economic rebound

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @GlennFarley

KING5.com

Posted on July 17, 2012 at 5:56 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 17 at 6:11 PM

ISSAQUAH -- After years of promises and false starts, a huge commercial retail project is underway in the Issaquah Highlands.

Oregon-based Regency Centers is bringing 300,000-feet of commercial space to the Issaquah Highlands, a bet by the developer on the economic comeback of one of the largest developments in Seattle's East Side exurbs.

The development, called Grand Ridge Plaza, will have a 12-screen Regal Theater and a new Safeway. Regency Centers said it's in final discussions with first-rate retailers to occupy additional large store, and there will be plenty of smaller space for barber shops, jewelry stores and other retailers catering to this now re-growing residential community.

 "There's been new development both in terms of single family housing and apartments. So that all feels like it's coming back and getting stronger," said Craig Ramey, senior V.P. and senior marketing officer for Regency Centers.

 "People need to know that the market is getting better, and the prices are escalating." said Windemere Real Estate branch manager Dave Paremski.   "Since December, we've seen at least a 10 percent appreciation in homes." 

Paremski said that growth figure is across the East Side, and he's now seeing multiple offers on many homes, with some selling for above the asking price.

But Paremski and Ramey said what's happening is not a return to the crazy boom days that preceeded the "Great Recession."  What's happening now is much more measured.  And while retail and home development is back, other projects -- including a new hotel -- remain on hold, according to the city's economic development director Keith Niven.

"There's still difficulity in getting access to financing," said Niven. "I would love to say that everything up here is golden." 

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