New Seasons Market has not been publicly identified as the anchor tenant for the four-site retail and housing development to surround the U-Link light rail Capitol Hill Station, but labor and advocacy groups believe it tops the list.
Last year developer (and fellow Portlander) Gerding Edlen said they were in talks with a northwest-based grocer interested in expanding to Seattle to become the anchor tenant to the “transit oriented development” project. New Seasons does fit the bill, though neither Gerding nor New Seasons have publicly confirmed a deal.
In a letter to the Sound Transit Board, eight Seattle unions and advocacy organizations said they are concerned with “an anti-union climate” at the stores and cite Seattle’s Metropolitan Markets or PCC Markets as better choices.
UPDATE: Gerding partner Jill Sherman confirmed New Seasons was the grocer the company had been in discussions with through the bid process, but said no final decision has been made on a tenant. Sherman has also met with the group Puget Sound Sage, one of the letter’s signatories.
“We have been made aware of the concerns,” Sherman said. “New Seasons is very well respected in our market for their businesses practices.”
“We are puzzled why Sound Transit would agree to an out of region anchor tenant when we have several, home-grown choices of smaller, healthy foods grocery stores that would optimize local business opportunity,” said the letter.
The letter goes on to question the need for a grocery store at all in the “transit orientated development,” but also notes that grocery store careers can be among the best those without a college degree. New Seasons is planning to open its first Washington store on Mercer Island later this year.
The grocery industry, of course, is already busy on Broadway with two QFCs and a Whole Foods aiming for a 2018 opening at Broadway and Madison.
CHS learned of the opposition through an ad campaign purchased on the site by UFCW 21. Gerding Edlen has yet to respond to request for comment sent Monday afternoon.
Signatories on the letter include representatives from Puget Sound Sage, OneAmerica, Got Green, White Center Community Development Association, Church Council of Greater Seattle, Low Income Housing Institute, Teamsters Local Union No. 117, and SEIU 6 Property Services Northwest.
The March 19th service start of U-Link light rail service on Capitol Hill will be just one milestone among the massive changes coming to Broadway between Howell and John. Last year Gerding Edlen was selected as the master developer of 100,000 square feet of TOD housing, commercial, and community spaces. Gerding estimates the project to cost $124 million for three sites. Capitol Hill Housing was tabbed to develop, own, and operate a fourth site — a seven story, 86-unit affordable housing building.
A supermarket won’t be the only retail tenant. Plans for a retail “bazaar” at Site A-North, called The Market Hall, envision “a mix of local retailers, served by booths of varying sizes to accommodate the start-up entrepreneur as well as more established specialty retailers.” Gerding says it plans to work closely with the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce to select a retail broker and future tenants.
According to Gerding’s original timeline, construction for Site A is slated to start this summer and last through August 2017. Gerding expects the entire project will be open sometime in 2018.
UPDATE: Kshama Sawant voiced her support for the letter Tuesday via Twitter:
Capitol Hill Station will shape the commute of 1000s of Seattleites. It's no place for an anti-union grocery store. https://t.co/czW1IMY8FH
— Kshama Sawant (@cmkshama) February 2, 2016