A New Kind of Community

The History of Issaquah Highlands, an Urban Village


Issaquah Highlands’ master developer Port Blakely purchases 2,200 acres of vacant land in the Cascade foothills with a vision to build an urban village based on the principles of New Urbanism: sustainability, walkability, community, and economic vitality. 


  • After Port Blakely receives approval for a multi-phased, mixed-use development, infrastructure, construction begins. 
  • Port Blakely deeds over 1,500 acres as permanent open space, including Grand Ridge Park. 
  • Ashland Park, the first community park, breaks ground. 


Port Blakely establishes the Issaquah Highlands Community Association (IHCA), building a governance structure and development standards and procedures. 


  • After home builders acquire land and build homes, the first residents move in. 
  • Port Blakely creates Highlands Fiber Network (HFN), a community-owned fiber optic communication system to serve Issaquah Highlands homeowners. 


  • Residents move into multiple phases of single and multi-family homes. 
  • Port Blakely establishes Highlands Council to foster the development of a vibrant and caring community. 
  • The I-90 Exit 18 interchange, Eastside Fire and Rescue Station 73, and Central Park (Phase I) open. 


Puget Sound’s Highest Rated Built Green™ Community, Master Builders Association (2003)  


  • The community grows to 3,000 residents. 
  • The first retailers, Grand Ridge Elementary School, and the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride open. 
  • Port Blakely builds Blakely Hall and deeds it to Highlands Council to serve as the Issaquah Highlands community center.  


  • Master-Planned Community of the Year, Silver Award, National Association of Home Builders (2005)
  • Leadership Award for Green Building, City of Issaquah (2006)
  • Green Globe Award for Leadership in Sustainable Building, King County (2006)
  • Built Green Hammer Award, Master Builders Association (2006)
  • Master Planned Community of the Year, Award of Merit Finalist, Pacific Coast Builders (2006)
  • Green Sustainable Community of the Year, Award of Merit, Gold Nugget Awards (2006)


The community celebrates its first Highlands Day festival


  • Proliance Surgeons’ 43,000-square-foot medical center and Swedish Hospital’s medical campus open.
  •  zHomes, the first multi-family, zero net energy homes in the country, open. 
  • The YWCA Issaquah Highlands Family Village opens. 


  • America’s Best Community, Finalist, National Association of Home Builders (2010)
  • Green Sustainable Community of the Year, Award of Merit, Gold Nugget Awards (2010)
  • Top 10 Best Green-Built Neighborhoods, Natural Home Magazine (2010)
  • Best New Neighborhood, 425 Magazine (2010)
  • 25 Best Places to Live, Seattle Met Magazine (2011) 


Highlands Council establishes the Highlands Youth Advisory Board to assist with community-building work and to give youth a voice in community matters. 


In a planned transition process led by community volunteers, Issaquah Highlands residents assume control of the IHCA, Highlands Council, and HFN. 


Grand Ridge Plaza retail center opens, including a grocery store, movie theater, and numerous restaurants, shops, and services. 



Issaquah Highlands celebrates the 20th anniversary of the first residents moving into the community in a birthday party-themed Highlands Day festival. 


The Issaquah Highlands Community Fund (IHCF) receives 501(c)3 nonprofit status, fulfilling Port Blakely’s vision for an Issaquah Highlands charitable foundation. 


Port Blakely completes its role as master developer in the final transition with community organizations. The IHCA, Highlands Council, HFN, and the IHCF assume all governing responsibilities. 

Issaquah Highlands launches new modern branding to reflect the community’s standing as an internationally recognized master-planned community. 

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