Port Blakely begins work on 30 acres in Highlands

If you have driven by the Highlands lately, something new may have caught your eye — all the trees that disappeared.

If you have driven by the Highlands lately, something new may have caught your eye — all the trees that disappeared.

But have no fear, they will be replaced — eventually.

On April 1, Port Blakely Communities began work on a 30-acre piece of property just east of the Town Center. That property was a chunk of an 80-acre parcel that the company received from Washington State Department of Transportation. The DOT needed to build a storm water detention pond following the construction of the Interstate 90 Sunset interchange, and Port Blakely offered to construct the pond in exchange for the land.

The 30-acre parcel has undergone prep-work in the last few weeks, with the land being cleared to allow for further development.

“It’s hard to work around vegetation,” said Ryan Pennington of the MWW group, which is working with Port Blakely Communities. “The vegetation will be put back in.”

Plans for the 30 acres are still being refined, Pennington said, so as of yet there are no set designs out for the property. Any development in the area will include the open spaces and vegetation plans similar to those found elsewhere in the Highlands, Port Blakely officials said. However, company officials anticipate that the plans will be finalized soon, so the clearing and preparation work is being done now.

No plans have been made yet for the remaining 50 acres Port Blakely received, so nothing has been done on that land yet.

Possibilities for the property include developing it under King County standards for roughly 16 five-acre lots for larger homes, or for uses allowed in rural areas such as churches, schools or limited commercial, officials said.

Another consideration is to annex the new land into the City of Issaquah and cluster development on 20 percent of the land while the remaining 80 percent would remain as permanent open space.

The 80-acre parcel that Port Blakely received from WSDOT was the last of the designated expansion areas that Port Blakely was interested in, Pennington said. The company previously bought two other parcels, land directly south of the Microsoft property and land east of the Issaquah Highlands park and ride.

The portion of WSDOT rural land that is visible from I-90 will be retained by WSDOT as a view shed to keep the view from the road as natural as possible, and there are plans to conserve it as a permanent open space as envisioned by the Mountains to Sound Greenway.

Open for business in the Highlands:

•Sorella Salon & Spa: This salon just opened in December and offers a range of services, including styling to facials and spa treatments. 1220 10th Ave. N.E., or call (425) 392-9299.

• Caffe Ladro: An upscale coffee shop with high ceilings and many lanterns. The shop gets its many baked good daily from the Caffe Ladro private bakery in Seattle. 1200 10th Ave. N.E., or call (425) 391-9300.

•Highlands Cleaners: The fifth shop of Hyong Kim and Young Kim. The shop also features a service to notify customers via e-mail when their cleaning is ready. 1024 N.E. Park Drive, or call (425) 996-0999.

•Occhio! Vision Care: This eye center opened on March 17 after expanding from a Sammamish location to the Highlands. The center provides eye exams, contact lens evaluations and medical eyecare. 1000 N.E. Park Drive, or call (425) 391-3222.

•Curves: Three women from the same family opened their first branch of the franchise in the Eastside on Mercer Island in 2002. They also have a gym in the Issaquah Commons. 1091 NE High Street, or call (425) 392-2330.

•Ricenroll: After coming up with the idea that you can put anything in a rice roll, including beef, pork and tempura, Joana Chong opened her own restaurant in 2002. This store is her fourth. 1052 Park Drive, or call (425) 369-8445.

•Marcela’s Mexican Grill: A casual dining restaurant with homemade sangria and margaritas. 1000 N.E. Park Drive, or call (425) 369-8900.

•Sip Wine Bar and Restaurant: This wine bar and restaurant combo opened in 2006. It has a 38-seat bar and the restaurant offers seating for 160. 1084 N.E. Park Drive.

•MK Ballet: Former Tokyo Ballet soloist Michiko Black just opened a dance studio in the Highlands, offering ballet as well as other forms of dance. 425-442-6520 or

•9 Bar Espresso and World Pies: This combo coffee shop and pizza shop offers selections from around the world including Formaggi Bianco, El Greco and falafel pizzas. 2525 N.E. Park Drive Suite A, or call (425) 392-6099.

•Le Chic Pet: At this pet store, you can bathe your pet with their equipment for $15. The cost includes all the necessities needed for bathing a pet, including a rubber apron and a tub that is geared for “no-kneel” bathing. 2525-B NE Park Drive, or call (425) 392-1147.