When it comes to bringing new businesses to Broadway, Joule has its work cut out for it

30,000 feet of retail space is about to be added to north Broadway. It’s time to quit talking about Joule as some kind of theoretical part of the future Broadway. CHS and many in the community have kicked the design around. But people are living there. Now. More than 100 apartments at the Broadway’s development, located between East Republican Street and East Mercer Street, are presently occupied, and nearly that many more are leased and awaiting move-in. Soon, the ground-floor commercial spaces that currently sit vacant will begin to show their own signs of life. Here’s what we know is moving in — and what challenges Joule will face to fill the rest.


Finishing touches (Photo: Justin Carder)

Representatives from developer Essex Property Trust and from Real Retail, the commercial leasing agent brought on by Essex, confirmed that two commercial leases have been signed for the north building, one to a restaurant and another to a bank. The leases will together lock up about 5,000 of the close to 30,000 square feet of available commercial space. September move-in dates are anticipated. CHS is awaiting confirmation as to who those tenants will be. And, yes, Joule is a CHS advertiser but that has no bearing on our coverage of this or any other development.

In the meantime, three more prospective tenants, a combination of “quick-service food” and service retail, are negotiating leases for the remainder of the north building space.  The south building is lagging behind the north, and Brynn Estelle Telkamp of Real Retail suggested it was more likely that it would not be occupied until 2011, though a late-2010 move-in might still be possible.  She said that they are pursuing restaurants as the south building’s anchor tenants “in the genre of Jerry Traunfeld.”  Traunfeld’s thali-inspired Poppy restaurant is located a block to the north of Joule.

“There could be one tenant that could take the entire south building, and we would do that,” said Essex Vice President of Development Bruce Knoblock.  He said he would also consider a grocery store or soft goods retailer as potential tenants.

Last year, CHS reported on a rumor that Whole Foods had considered signing on as an anchor tenant for the project but that speculation was squashed when the grocery giant told CHS it had put any plans for another Seattle store on hold. Joule had announced plans for a big grand opening celebration in the fall after the retail spaces are completed this summer. But with the struggle to fill those spaces, the project might be adding many of its tenants after the big party.

Joule’s commercial space could be divided among as many as 13 individual tenants.  However, addresses could also be combined to allow for larger commercial spaces accommodating fewer than 13 tenants.  Four of spaces, the “bookend” units on both the north and south buildings, are built with the ventilation systems necessary to accommodate a restaurant.  The exact way in which the space is divided has not been decided, though, and ultimately depends on the space demands of individual tenants.  “It is more likely we’ll be closer to 12 or 13 tenants than to four or five,” Knoblock said.

The development team began marketing the commercial spaces last fall. The Broadway Building, another new development located a half-mile south at Broadway and East Pine Street, is nearly completely leased and boldly advertises signed tenants – including Panera Bread, ZPizza, Emerald City Smoothie, and Genki Sushi – anticipated to move in later this summer. Knoblock suspects Broadway Building’s location at Broadway and East Pine Street, which he thinks may be more heavily trafficked then Joule’s north Broadway location, and differences in its leasing timeline, may have contributed to its earlier occupancy date.

Photo: Justin Carder

CHS asked Capitol Hill residents strolling past Joule Sunday afternoon what sorts of occupants they would like to see added to the Broadway commercial district.

Locally-owned businesses were a common response.  “What I would like to see as we get this density is that it’s good density and good growth that supports local businesses,” said Leda Chahim.  She said that community gathering space is lacking in the neighborhood, though she added that Joule might not be the appropriate spot.

Greater diversity in food options, both for groceries and for dining establishments, also came up often.

“Something that comes to mind – granted I’m not sure if the space will be big enough – is a natural foods grocery store like a PCC,” said Robert Tuttle.  He added that he would like “a better quality deli, like an Italian deli, or a specialty foods place.”

 “We don’t need any more bars, and there are plenty of restaurants,” said Brett Nagy.  “It’s easy to find a place to eat around here, but not so easy to find healthy fast food.  There used to be a place called Gravity that went away when QFC took over the old Fred Meyer space.”

“What about a bakery or a deli?” asked Laura Peterson.  “Or, a healthy bakery and sandwich place would be good.”

Knoblock said that he and others have heard community suggestions for how the spaces can be best serve the neighborhood but has admitted that certain occupants could not afford Joule’s rents.  For one: hardware stores.

“We have reached out to hardware stores, but we haven’t made a whole lot of headway,” Knoblock said.  “Our rents are a little bit expensive for most hardware stores.”

“The essence is we’re trying to bring over more of the higher end retail to complement what they’re doing at Brix,” Knoblock said.

Property manager Phil Cresswell is looking forward to seeing the spaces occupied.  “I’m just looking forward to this being done because of what it brings to the neighborhood,” he said.  He believes Joule will bring “new life and new energy” to Broadway.   “I know people don’t like it, but I think we’re an asset,” he said.

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48 thoughts on “When it comes to bringing new businesses to Broadway, Joule has its work cut out for it

  1. but i’d say it’s pretty clear that the way people like knoblock think is the problem.

    i understand he wants to bring in fancy retail to make fancy profits but look what happens when the actual residents speak: they want local businesses, community spaces, affordable healthy food, and a hardware store. nothing fancy, knob, just regular stuff! i’m sorry you paid too much for that plot of land and built an eyesore on it when you could have done something way better, i really am; and now the fact that you think we need more high-end retail just further demonstrates how out of touch you are.

  2. I would like to cast my vote for a natural foods store. Madison Market serves the Southeast part of capitol hill, but the northwest area just has QFC. I like the Broadway Market QFC, but they don’t focus on healthy food. Something like a PCC would be great at the Joule, allowing people to shop both grocery stores the same way people shop Mad Market and Trader Joe’s in one trip.

  3. Target does those smaller in-city stores now. They’d clean up. Not local, but the neighborhood could use something like that for those of us that don’t drive and/or don’t like to leave the hill. Those spaces are massive and I don’t see how they can be carved up into 12 or 13 smaller ones. Am I missing something? I only saw a couple doors.

  4. How about trying to get the Bartell’s family to bring a Bartell’s drugstore back again like we had before ??

  5. I think Target or something like it would be cool on the Hill because regardless to what some people think we have all income brackets that live here and need a place to shop for the ” Everyday Joe or the Everyday Jane ” type of people.

  6. I personally like the new look. I don’t know what others had in mind, but I think it adds good character to the corner. I too would like to see a healthy grocery such as PCC. Re-opening Gravity or something like it would also be good. And what about another classy but affordable clothing shop similar to Metro & Panache?

  7. Not ALL of the actual residents are speaking!

    Of course all of the people that were surveyed currently frequent Broadway so the results are skewed. Broadway is a dump and there are residents who currently see little reason to frequent it. Maybe this developer knows the potential market better than you. There are plenty of local businesses and a developer providing community spacy is ridiculous. There is room on Broadway for some upscale in addition to all of the other types of businesses it supports.

  8. “Our rents are a little bit expensive for most hardware stores.”

    yeah, so were the apartments. i can’t imagine why anyone would want to try to run a business out of that building. it’s a less busy part of Broadway and the owner wants you to pay a premium for the luxury of being in a new – albeit ugly – building. there may be a lot of folks who can afford high-end restaurants and retail on the hill now (and feel we just don’t have *enough* already), but i suspect the entire building will be useless to me… whereas just last night i needed something only a hardware store would have. what a shame we can’t have even a slice of real neighborhood anymore.

  9. That is the ugliest effffing building. Yay for new business on the hill! I am all for it! However, the “eye-soars” that they call condos/ apartment buildings are a major bummer aesthetically. Whatever happened to true architecture, to true building design? It seems as though they build the framing and slap some cheap metal siding on. More Brick and stone! Woo hoo!

  10. I am surprised they have already rented so many units. They are small and they aren’t cheap.

    I am ok with Broadway turning into Belltown, as long as assaults and shootings are not included.

  11. Did you at least stop and think why this part of Broadway is less busy and what needs to happen to change that?

  12. I just want to say that I’m so happy Broadways getting a face lift Since the convience store on broadway and Harrison has been gone there are far less junkies asking me for money I’m actually starting to feel safe to walk down that side of broadway! I don’t care what goes there it’s better then what we had before

  13. no name: the reason knob knows the ‘potential market’ is because he and his golf buddies are producing it; or, if it’s already there but avoiding broadway at present, then they are propagating it. i concede that not all of the residents were included in the survey but what is important, i’d say, is that it is the existing residents’ opinions that do matter, not the hypothetical residents that these guys are trying to attract. sure, a ‘statistically significant survey’ would need to include the opinion of many more people, but those concrete opinions are completely different than the abstractions that knob’s spreadsheets ‘predict’.

  14. Natural foods store! Bring back Rainbow!!!!!

    There is no where north of Madison that you can get grass-fed free-range beef! NO WHERE!

  15. Please,please,please put a hardware store in there! City People’s would be awesome.

    Sure wish we had a homoDepot around here. I know it takes up too much space, but we really could use one.

  16. They ask what we want, then put in crap like Panera, Emerald City Smoothie, etc. Those are NOT local businesses. As far as Broadway being a dump, move. Capitol Hill used to be an edgy, trendy area that was a fun place to live. If people wanted to live in Belltown or the suburbs, they didn’t move to Capitol Hill. What have citizens said we want over and over and OVER again? A hardware store, locally owned businesses and things that compliment the existing flavor of Capitol Hill. If our main thoroughfare is now going to be populated with generic, corporate chains our cool neighborhood will be just another boring ‘burb.

  17. I’m not sure what you have against golfing but we can skip that.

    Since most businesses create demand that seems irrelevant. Does your definition of residents only include people that currently walk on Broadway? I would think not. Your definition of residents should include people that live on Capitol Hill and within that definition are those that don’t frequent Broadway today for a variety of reasons, one of which might include a lack of businesses that meet their needs.

    Limiting businesses on Broadway to only meet the needs of people who currently walk on Broadway seems incredibly short-sighted for Broadway and Capitol Hill. Not to mention future businesses that could meet the needs of Capitol Hill residents who are looking for better options on Broadway.

    The demand is there (and doesn’t need to be created on a golf course), you are just choosing to ignore it. You also don’t need a survey to figure this out.

  18. How exactly do these businesses survive that you claim residents don’t want? Residents give them their business because they aren’t exactly destination places.

    Capitol Hill has a lot more to offer than just Broadway so there is no reason to move, there is just little reason to frequent Broadway. You are out of touch or afraid to face reality.

  19. To those suggesting a Target or Restoration Hardware (not a real hardware store) I just have to say-Gross!
    We don’t need another drug store either- there’s already three ( Rite Aid, Walgreens and Bartell) Here’s the problem: The architecture of these new condos going up are so hideous that most local retailers are not going to want a a space there anyway, let alone being able to afford it. There is no character inside with concrete walls and floors and certainly none outside. I would rather see a Trader Joes or PCC than god forbid another tanning salon or any mall food court crap.

  20. I walk by this building every day and I’ve got to say it concerns me a great deal. It is impressively bland and generic looking, and those ads in the windows really creep me out(“Channel the Energy”? I thought the ad was a joke making fun of gentrified douchebags until I realized they were serious). All of th people I know who are moving into the building(which, granted, is only 4), while friendly, are also the absolute definition of gentrified and boring. I honestly don’t understand why they’re living in the building when they almost never go out to eat, drink, attend a concert, or do anything else that makes Capitol Hill worth living in. A more affordable building with smaller apartments and fewer amenties would have been much more beneficial to local buisnesses and the community as a whole, but instead we have a huge influx of NIMBY yuppies who are going to oppose every progressive measure they come across(Prediction: The tenants will throw a tantrum if the city wants to add a bus stop in front of their building because it attracts “bus people”) while making the neighborhood much more bland and soulless.

    This sort of project is bad for Cap Hill residents and buisnesses alike, and I find it odd that no buisnesses spoke out against it.

  21. “Better than what was there before” is a pretty low bar for your acceptance, Ella. Would you really be happy with anything there, as long as it’s better than the previous situation, which was so bad that you were afraid to walk on that side of the street?

  22. Did you read the post?

    Justin wrote:

    Knoblock said that he and others have heard community suggestions for how the spaces can be best serve the neighborhood but has admitted that certain occupants could not afford Joule’s rents. For one: hardware stores.

    “We have reached out to hardware stores, but we haven’t made a whole lot of headway,” Knoblock said. “Our rents are a little bit expensive for most hardware stores.”

  23. Ooh… Restoration Hardware! And a Pottery Barn, a P.F. Chang’s, a Panera Bread, Best Buy, Cheesecake Factory, Spaghetti Factory, and an Office Depot. Man, that would be great.

  24. Could not agree more! More brick. More Stone! Every building I love happens to be brick and has an actual roof, with a pitch! Enough with these terrible corrugated metal boxes. About 1 in 10 is actually executed nicely with quality materials.

    Good examples: 1111 E. Pike (awesome), Brix Condos (decent),Trace Lofts (Ok as well)

    Bad examples: Joule!, Pearl, Press, basically all the others

  25. there is an astronomical difference between the concentrated effect that a local business — a coffee shop, a sandwich spot, etc — has and a block long development with hundreds (? — at least scores) of overpriced units, and 30,000 square feet of retail space that demands rents higher than a hardware store can pay. i’m talking about the ‘net effect’ of this meteor landing on the block, not just the little shops that might open within it (though i’m fairly certain they’ll want to lease it out to big tenants and get more bang for the buck).

    your definition of residents is perfectly fine with me; all i’m saying is that i don’t count ‘potential demand’ as constructed by whatever market research these economic reductionist golfers perform. i guess i can’t pretend to know what exact kind of demand there is other than what i hear anecdotally, and what i’m hearing is people want every day services, not pretentious upscale drivel or homogenous commercial chains, like panera bread (i presume that is you down below, unnamed, in the ‘generic biz’ thread supporting this kind of suburban excrement, though i may be wrong).

  26. “Broadway is a dump and there are residents who currently see little reason to frequent it.”

    Move to Bellevue, dumbass.

  27. Maus, you are a stellar addition to the community. Way to welcome and embrace a diversity of opinions and needs.

  28. “How exactly do these businesses survive that you claim residents don’t want? Residents give them their business because they aren’t exactly destination places.”

    Chain businesses can survive just fine because people move to Cap Hill hearing it’s a “hip” place to be, but some of these people are more into the idea of *calling* themselves hip because of location, but aren’t willing to seek out new and exciting things. By that rationale, there will probably be enough residents so that any shitty national chain can survive.

    If we’re going to get a chain anyway, can we drag an internation one like Uniqlo? At least cheap, decent fashion would be preferable to another miniTarget or Wal-clone.

  29. “I am ok with Broadway turning into Belltown, as long as assaults and shootings are not included.”

    There aren’t enough sports bars to draw that crowd. Plus, I think they’re a little scared of the Abby of St. Joan, anyway :p

  30. “Maus, you are a stellar addition to the community. Way to welcome and embrace a diversity of opinions and needs.”

    I’m being pretty kneejerk pessimistic here from all the requests for bland chains and franchises. You’re right, there is the possibility to mingle upscale business with the current Broadway, and some parts are dumpy. But really, if they’re going to do it, I hope they do it well. I’d rather have “charming dumpy” than tasteless and overpriced.

  31. High-end retail has a long history of failure on Broadway since U-Village was renovated.

    There’s a hardware store on 12th: Pacific Supply.

  32. How do you know that no one spoke out against this building? I was in a room full of people objecting to the new hideous building going up on Broadway at Thomas (which, by the way, looks almost exactly the same). and guess what? No one cares. The city of Seattle only cares about developers and other people with money. They do not care if the entirety of Capitol Hill hates it–it is going in. I don’t know what else to say when the whole community stands against something and it is still going to happen.

  33. I’ve sent MANY emails to both PCC trying to convince them to move into the Joule retail space. I received replies from both companies- PCC saying they cannot move onto Capitol Hill because they have a sort of non-compete claus with other natural food stores (Madison Market.) I would love nothing more than to have a health food store with a great deli move into that location- like the whole foods salad bar.

  34. here’s the whole madison market – pcc story, if you’re interested. i had always heard people in mm say ‘pcc’ instead of a member number and i didn’t understand why until i read this history.

    http://madisonmarket.com/index.php?page=our_history

    i’m with you though, it would be great to have a similar store in this building, but i’m also really impressed with these two organizations for working together and with the community for all these years. now if only the generally heartless, cold-blooded, greedy, penny-pinching, tasteless vultures known as ‘developers’ could follow suit! ;)

  35. my question is who is paying the $1500/month rent for a tiny one bedroom? you can get small one bedrooms that are nice for $800-$1000 within blocks.

    if the rent for the apartments is so high, who knows what the commercial space rents are. how do you expect to get local businesses in? the only people that might rent those spaces will be high end retailers or chain stores that have the money and are willing to take a risk…

    all im saying is that unfortunately, i expect to see those spaces sitting vacant for a while.

  36. a comment about design… the neighborhood design boards are in place to advocate good design. unfortunately they more often prevent good and progressive designs from happening. people who sit on those boards are there to gain positions of power and have more interest in furthering themselves in politics than furthering the character of the neighborhoods. it is an unfortunate part of the reality that helps create mundane seattle architecture. everyone needs to stop blaming the developers and designers.