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.
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.
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.