Neighbors worry about loss of Montlake Blvd Market in plans for Seattle-side 520 replacement

As a $1.64 billion plan takes shape to completely transform State Route 520’s pass through their neighborhood, some Montlake neighbors are most worried about the neighborhood’s longtime market.

A representative from the City of Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development sounded the alarm in an email to neighbors before Tuesday’s meeting:

This is an important late breaking development. WSDOT is proposing to acquire and potentially demolish the Montlake Market. If this is a concern, please let WSDOT know at tonight’s open house (4:30-7pm, St Demetrious). If you can’t make the meeting you can make comments on the online version of the open house here http://sr520.participate.online until July 8.

Tuesday night, WSDOT officials were at Montlake’s St. Demetrios Hall to present the plans for the next phase in replacing 520 as part of $4.65 billion in projects that have already created the longest floating bridge in the world.

Wednesday, a WSDOT representative told CHS that the agency is preparing a statement on the planned acquisition and said it is in talks with the property owner. According to the rep, the property that is home to the market and the service station just off the 520 combined offramp and onramp on Montlake Blvd has been identified by planners as likely to be impacted by the new 520 design and what will be a changing grade around the onramp.  “It actually has a bigger impact on property than we had earlier thought,” the representative said. “As you get further into design, you learn things.”

UPDATE 7:05 PM: In an update on the project, WSDOT detailed its reasons for needing to acquire the property:

  • WSDOT needs the property to build some of the project’s planned improvements, such as retaining walls and fill, sidewalks, connections to shared-use trails, and utility relocations and modifications.  We also will use the property for construction staging and traffic shifts.
  • We determined in the 2011 environmental impact statement that we’d have to close three of the four driveway accesses into the gas station. The gas station and market are business tenants on the property. The change in driveway access will affect the operations of both tenants.
  • We are in discussions with the property owner regarding WSDOT’s purchase of the site and the operations of the businesses.

“We know these businesses are important to many people in the Montlake area. We’ll keep the community updated as this process unfolds,” the update reads.

WSDOT also provided an update on the project’s timeline, below. The final phase involving a planned second Montlake bridge is currently slated to be completed around 2027.

Phase 1

  • Montlake lid, West Approach Bridge South, land bridge over SR 520
  • Construction to begin by 2018
  • Estimated duration: 4-5 years

Phase 2

  • New Portage Bay Bridge with regional bike-pedestrian path, Roanoke lid, improved I-5 interchange, bike-pedestrian I-5 crossing
  • Estimated to begin as early as: 2020
  • Estimated duration: 6 years

Phase 3

  • Second bascule (drawbridge) over Montlake Cut
  • Estimated to begin as early as: 2024
  • Estimated duration: 3 years

Construction on the Seattle-side features of the new 520 is slated to begin “by 2018,” according to WSDOT. Years of construction will include the “West Approach Bridge South, Montlake lid and interchange, and land bridge over the highway, Portage Bay Bridge, 10th Avenue East and Delmar Drive East lid, and I-5 connections.” A second bascule bridge over the Montlake Cut is also planned. The land currently home to the market and service station would be put to use as a “staging area” during the years of construction.

The Montlake Blvd Market, or Hop-In as old-timers and those with deeper Montlake roots might call it, lists an opening year of 1936. UPDATE: It is currently owned by Scott Iverson and a company called BTF Enterprises, according to the city business permit.

In addition to the grocery, deli, and gas station frequented by residents, 520 commuters, and plenty of Huskies, the property also is the location of things like the neighborhood Christmas tree lot and many a charity car wash. The property’s owner is Lynne Parrott, a Clyde Hill resident and Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman, Jr.’s niece, according to King County records. The property has a taxable value of $1.4 million but will likely command a higher price tag.

Neighborhood reaction to the possible closure of the Montlake Market echoes the situation around the development planned to replace City People’s in Madison Valley with a PCC grocery and mixed-use apartment building. What can we say, neighborhood neighbors? Now you know how several corners of Capitol Hill have felt during the ongoing waves of redevelopment.

The 520 project, meanwhile, is still open to community shaping. There’s more to be concerned with than just the neighborhood market as design, transit, pedestrian, and bike issues around the new features are still being finalized. Details from the latest open house are posted here. You can also learn more and provide feedback via this 520 Replacement Program Online Open House.

"A rendering, looking east, of a new landscaped lid crossing over SR 520 at the Montlake Boulevard interchange in Seattle." (Image: WSDOT)

“A rendering, looking east, of a new landscaped lid crossing over SR 520 at the Montlake Boulevard interchange in Seattle.” (Image: WSDOT)

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21 thoughts on “Neighbors worry about loss of Montlake Blvd Market in plans for Seattle-side 520 replacement

  1. This is also used by both the Microsoft bike shuttle (which may not survive the opening of the trail) and some school buses as the a pickup point. Could get messy.

  2. There are essentially no other grocery stores in this whole area except for the market, right? Next closest is Safeway on 15th. I can’t imagine losing the only walk-able option for basics.

    • There is a QFC and Safeway at University Village that are closer than the 15th Ave stores. But losing the convenience factor of this market will be a challenge for the neighborhood.

  3. The impact of adding even a small amount of truck traffic going in an out of a staging area located at this location will have real impact on the traffic jams that clog this area every day. This is the second busiest intersection in the city of Seattle. It sees as much traffic as I5 in Bellingham. WSDOT can’t just add to the mess without regards for the city’s opinion on the matter.
    The surrounding neighborhoods are asking for a traffic plan to help the flow of traffic in the entire zone, ensure its livability and in the process address a real city need for fluidity at this critical traffic node which benefits or impacts the entire city.

  4. Montlake Market is THE neighborhood hub. It is one of the few places to walk to in Montlake. Instead of “popping down” to the market for dinner, we’ll now have to add to the Seattle traffic to get to QFC in the Village or Safeway on Madison. WSDOT is seriously alienating the neighborhood here, as well as adding to the loss of Seattle’s identity. WSDOT can find a design fix here. They need to do so to keep the support of the Montlake neighbors.

    • I agree it’s a convenience to have a market here, but this place charges 25-40% more for everything than a normal supermarket. Bacon for $9? Half gallon of milk for $5.99?

    • Yes, some items are a higher mark up, but it’s not that bad. I have stopped in on a whim some nights and picked up awesome Painted Hills steaks for the same price I’d find at other stores. If WSDOT wants to stage for their project, they should think of all their workers who could get a quick meal there during breaks.

  5. If this happens, it definitely isn’t ideal for the Montlake neighborhood. However, it’s hard for me to have a whole lot of sympathy given that they live in one of the most expensive zip codes in the city. If you guys want more options, accept more development and new zoning to make it happen. But you can’t hold hostage a project that benefits the entire region. Also, I’d like to point out that there are legitimate food deserts in Seattle that Montlake residents should also be concerned about, because people in those places can’t afford to have Amazon deliver to their door or eat out at nice restaurants.

    • If you are a very working class employee at the NOAA facility across the street, that office quickly becomes a food desert without the Montlake Market. It’s nearly impossible to get out of our facility during the week in any reasonable amount of time (driving or walking) to find something other than vending machine offerings.

    • How long have you lived in Seattle, Adam? Montlake has never been a low-income neighborhood, but it was never one of the most elite or expensive, either. I am 33 and my parents have lived in Montlake since the late 70s; none of their friends, nor they, could afford to live in Montlake if they were buying today. I myself certainly can’t. That’s not privilege, that’s real estate speculation, the market, inflation, gentrification, and people getting priced out of their own neighborhoods.

      And as the other commenter so brilliantly pointed out, that’s really not the point anyway. Montlake is also home to NOAA employees, librarians, construction workers, parents who pick up their children at a public elementary school, and people of all stars and stripes transferring buses to get to and from work. Besides Mont’s Market, this is literally the ONLY place to grab a coffee, sandwich or the like. And there are low-income people in this neighborhood. Not to mention the elderly and disabled for whom this is one of very few community spaces/accessible business.

      To your other very astute point: NO, not every Montlake resident can afford to order Amazon Fresh or eat out at restaurants regularly. You appear to be someone who prides himself in championing the socially just and the politically correct. So please explain why generalization and ugly stereotypes are ok in this context? What hypocrisy, what BS.

      Furthermore, a blow to one community is a blow to all. These are crisis times in our city. Infighting and divisiveness just makes you part of the problem. Blunt but honest. Let’s cut the c*** and focus on the issues that matter already.

  6. Won’t someone think of the people with million dollar (and more) houses? They’re the real victims here.

    For too long, they’ve been forgotten and underrepresented in the city’s planning and decision making processes. Unite, brothers and sisters! Progress must be stopped!

    • Granted, this is a relatively small problem as problems go, but why should someone’s home value be relevant to assessing their right to comment on and influence developments in their community? Is there an upper net worth cutoff above which an opinion is no longer welcome? Please advise.

    • In case you’re serious and didn’t quite understand an ironic comment, in current Seattle they do comment, and their comments are generally considered more important than those of lower economic privilege. And the higher their income, the more important their comment. And if you’re a renter, you have little-to-no say in any developments.

      So the comment, you see, flipped it totally upside down!

    • Oh dear, myopic, misguided, self-righteous, finger-waggy “Privelege,” here’s a privileged (correct spelling) thought: why don’t you follow the golden rule. Who exactly are you helpful with your taunting, s***y comment? Did it do anything for minorities, oppressed people, or those in lower-income neighborhoods, or did it just make you feel a little bit better about yourself?

      This is about a bigger picture, P. This is a social justice and a quality of life issue that affects our entire city. Why don’t you let the rest of us who can see that move along, while you and other self-proclaimed champions for social justice continuing with your snarky hate-mongering and your pathetic infighting. THAT ISN’T ACTIVISM, BTW.

      Be a part of the solution for sustainable, appropriate, people-respecting developing in our city or get out of the way.

  7. It would be totally craptastic to have the Montlake Market demolished. It’s not just million dollar homeowners who use that place, it’s also the hundreds of very working and middle class NOAA employees across the street. Basically, that’s the only non-vending machine food gathering location within (reasonable) lunch hour/coffee break walking distance for us. Having that market a block away means I don’t have to drive to work or do a more convoluted bus/train trip to get food.

  8. I don’t want to lose my shortcut when the bridge opens or there’s a football game or other spillway for heavy traffic! This IS sad, even for Capitol Hillers trying to get away from those pesky Laurelhursters trying to go over the Montlake Bridge.

    I don’t think they account for parking lot cut throughs in their traffic modeling. It’ll get even more congested than it already is.

  9. “What can we say, neighborhood neighbors? Now you know how several corners of Capitol Hill have felt during the ongoing waves of redevelopment.” What a snarky, crummy thing to say, excuse my frankness. I’m curious to know, dear author, if you grew up in this city. I did, and I love Capitol Hill, and feel just as connected to it, as I do to Montlake, where I grew up. I feel just as angered, and just as indignant, when I see irresponsible, unsustainable development benefiting only the rich and powerful, when it happens in Capitol Hill. We should all care about the unjust things that happen in every corner of this city. Congrats on scoring another one for snark and tribalism, though.

    For those of you who care and can see a bigger picture here: please share your thoughts with WSDOT before July 8th at http://sr520.participate.online/feedback

  10. Regardless of merits of the project, the bottom line problem is the total lack of transparency and respect for democratic process from WSDOT:

    I’ve got one more thing to say, both to those who have legitimate reasons for supporting WSDOT’s project (to you and your intelligence, I tip my hat) and the wannabe activists who are ranting about how everyone in Montlake is rich and privileged anyway so who cares (to you and your likely equally privileged, hypocritical self, two fingers way up in the air–grow a conscience).

    Please be aware of the fact that WSDOT has apparently been considering this purchase and demolishing of the Hop-In and adjacent 76 station since 2011. Whether or not that’s the case, it is fact that they only publicly announced this plan on the morning of June 28th, which was the same day a community meeting and Q & A was to be held on the 520 project. A meeting that had been scheduled well in advance. And even then, it was a pretty cryptic statement they issued.

    THAT SHOULD CONCERN YOU. Whatever your take on this particular project, or this neighborhood of Montlake, when our city and state entities operate with little transparency as even less regard for the input and considerations of the citizens whose quality of life they may be affecting, it is undemocratic and it is appalling.

    If they can do it on this project, they can do it on other projects. They already have as I’m sure we’re all aware. And believe me as well when I say that when they want to do it in a less privileged neighborhood, they will have even fewer Fs to give. So you should care. I don’t care what you think about me or anyone other “oppressive persons” who live in Montlake. We are all residents of this city, we all deserve a little respect and a voice, and there should be democratic processes that are transparent and involve citizen input when major projects affecting all of us are underway.