Velmeir, the Michigan-based “full service commercial retail development company” poised to purchase the longtime Madison Valley home of City People’s to develop a new mixed-use building on the property has announced that Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets will anchor the project:
The Velmeir Companies today announced that PCC Natural Markets (PCC) will anchor a proposed new mixed-use development in Madison Valley. PCC, the country’s largest member-owned natural foods market, will occupy 25,000 square feet in the new building. The project will include 75 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments above the grocer and an underground parking garage.
Developers are slated to start construction at the beginning of 2017 with PCC opening in early 2018. While PCC will occupy most of the building’s ground-level retail space, there is a small, 2,000-square-foot space that may be used for a cafe-style business. The project’s 75 residential units will likely be market-rate, though a spokesperson for Velmeir said the company would “explore options” for including affordable housing using Seattle’s tax incentive program. The underground parking garage is slated to have 157 spaces — 81 for residents and 76 for retail.
Early designs call for some portions of the development to go to three stories while other portions will rise to four stories in response to existing zoning on the block. Developers are not planning to ask for a departure from the zoning heights, a spokesperson said, and are proposing wider setbacks from the sidewalk than those currently required.
PCC CEO Cate Hardy told CHS the co-op was drawn to the location by the surrounding neighborhood’s high demand for sustainable, organic food. “Madison Valley is definitely at the hub of a lot of neighborhoods that our concept resonates with,” Hardy said.
Hardy told CHS the Madison Valley location will be similar in concept to the Columbia City market. Prepared grab-and-go foods account for a significant portion of PCC’s business and will be part of the Madison Valley market. The mix of food stations has not yet been solidified, but Hardy said PCC’s pizza and taqueria stations are likely to included.
CHS broke the news in March that the garden store and nursery was preparing to close by the end of the year as City People’s founders planned to sell the property. “We had high hopes for the business, and we also hoped that many years hence our investment might become the cornerstone of our retirement. As we now know, the gamble paid off,” the owners said in an announcement on the plans.
The PCC announcement comes as opposition to the planned development has taken the shape of a new Save Madison Valley group. The group met earlier this month to discuss the development.
According to the company, City People’s Mercantile, “the first women-owned hardware/mercantile store in Seattle,” was founded in 1979 by Judith Gille, Dorrie Wayenberg and Barbara Bower. Harley Broe later joined the partnership. It first opened at 19th and Republican before stretching out in a larger space on 15th Ave E where it operated for 17 years before shuttering in 2001. City People’s opened in Madison Valley since 1988. Its Laurelhurst location remains open.
Rumors of a PCC coming to Capitol Hill and the Central District have swirled over the years. Grocery stores continue to be a thriving industry and a popular element for large developments in the area. A Whole Foods is set to anchor a 16-story mixed-use building at Broadway and Madison. Portland-based New Seasons is currently lined up to be a central element of the developments around Capitol Hill Station — despite labor opposition. Meanwhile, PCC will bring another cooperative model grocery to the area to join 16th and Madison’s Central Co-op. Late last year, Central Co-op voted to shift its ownership model to include workers and to merge with the Tacoma Food Co-op.
In 1978, PCC helped Central Co-op get off the ground on Capitol Hill. The co-op’s leadership is apparently not feeling threatened by the nation’s largest member-owned grocer joining the neighborhood.
“PCC shares our values and, together, we can make a positive impact in shaping the food landscape in this neighborhood,” Central Co-op chief Dan Arnett said in a statement. “We’re happy to welcome PCC to Madison Valley, and excited to form a deeper partnership in the coming months.”