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Central Market will anchor High Streets development

The High Streets shopping village in the Issaquah Highlands will be the home to a $20 million, 50,000-square-foot Central Market store, officials announced Wednesday. The store will be a major anchor tenant in the development, something Port Blakely Communities has been working toward for years. “It’s been a long process, but it’s certainly been worth the wait and worth the effort when we see the quality of what we’ve been able to attract to the Issaquah Highlands,” said Judd Kirk, CEO of Port Blakely. “It’s the most exciting thing for the residents of anything we’ve done. They’re ecstatic. This is really a very key component of the whole of the Issaquah Highlands.” Construction is slated to begin in 2009 and the new store is projected to open in 2010. Port Blakely will build the structure and lease it on a long-term lease to Central Market. “We have been looking for quite some time now,” said Larry Nakata, president of Town & Country Markets. “Within the last couple of years, we’ve been inquiring and also receiving a lot of calls from people with interest in having grocery stores in their developments. Nothing has seemed to surface with what we believe are the exciting opportunities that Issaquah presents.” Town & Country officials first looked at the Highlands in 2003. They liked the values and vision, he said, but felt that the timing was not quite right. “We felt the area wasn’t ready,” Nakata explained. Store leaders looked at about 10 different sites in King, Kitsap and Snohomish counties before settling on Issaquah, he said. “In the last five years, there have been a lot of good things happening up on the hill. We are a small company, and we don’t pop stores in left and right.” The company has six stores: three Central Markets like the new Highlands location, and three Town & Country Markets. Nakata described the Central Markets as larger stores, but based on the same vision of “celebrating fresh” products. “We like to think that we offer good, value pricing, but we’re certainly not the low price leader,” Nakata said. “We have just a great, loyal customer base that understands and can relate to where we are in the market.” The company was founded in 1957 when John and Mo Nakata and Ed Loverich opened the Town & Country Thriftway on Bainbridge Island, according to the store’s Web site. Everett-based Dykeman Architects PS will design the facility, in conjunction with Town & Country’s own store designer, Larry Nakata said. “We don’t have a standard look to all of our stores. Being an independent, every time we do something we try to enhance what we’ve done before,” he said. Even more than the exterior, they tend to focus on the interior and creating a similar feel and shopping experience. The new store will offer an estimated 100 jobs, Nakata said. Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger said she’s pleased about the news and thinks the store will be an asset for the Highlands and the city. “That’s been something that certainly the residents of the Issaquah Highlands have been looking forward to for quite some time,” Frisinger said. Officials with Port Blakely Communities — which has been developing the Highlands since the 1990s — have been working diligently to find an anchor tenant for its mixed use “retail and entertainment village.” The strained economy has made that difficult, and at least one major retailer pulled out after expressing serious interest. Port Blakely CEO Judd Kirk said in a press release that Central Market will be a good match particularly because of locally grown produce it will carry, and the fact that it will be built using green building technologies. “Central Market’s unsurpassed quality, excellent customer service and dynamic array of store features makes it a perfect fit for Issaquah Highlands,” Kirk said. For more information, visit www.townandcountrymarkets.com or www.portblakely.com.
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