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Developers announce PCC Natural Markets to anchor mixed-use set to replace City People’s

(Image: Velmeir/Studio Meng Strazzara)

(Image: Velmeir/Studio Meng Strazzara)

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.”

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46 thoughts on “Developers announce PCC Natural Markets to anchor mixed-use set to replace City People’s

  1. “Save Madison Valley” from what, exactly? The loss of a unique business like City People’s is sad but a mixed-use development with a grocery anchor is the right sort of thing to replace it.

    • One of the major concerns is the impact this kind of development would have on a choke point in the E Madison corridor. You cannot widen the road, the confluence of E Madison, MLK, Lake Washington Blvd, people wanting to park for access to the Arboretum all give rise to horrendous traffic. Add a “destination retailer” with a high volume of turnover of vehicles trying to get in and out of it on E Madison (there is no other viable entrance point) and you probably end up with gridlock impacting multiple routes through the area. Then you start to see residential streets used even more as ways to avoid the backups… Not safe for anyone’s children.

    • “just fix the transportation”… Having lived in London and Paris I’m sure they’d love to hear from you how to do that.

      The current solution in those cities? Either charge insane fees to use the roads or ban half the cars from the city on alternate days.

    • Are you comparing the transit of London or Paris to the joke we have in Seattle? I’ve sited them too, and used transit every single day.

      I lived In Germany for 5 years, any city the size or population of Seattle has 4-6 lines of SBahn (Link) and double the number of UBhan (street car). And night buses on weekends.

      The mentality of Seattle is “I don’t want any change that would force me to deal with the problems I’ve been trying to avoid for so long”.

  2. What are we “saving” today? I’d say $5 bundles of kale are pretty consistent with the character of Madison Valley.

  3. I’d heard that PCC had a ” non-compete” agreement with other Co-ops, and that was why the nearest PCC to the Madison Market Co-op was in Seward Park.

    Am I mis-remembering or have times changed?

    • I was under that impression too. I wonder what happens to Madison Market. I thought this article was going to say PCC was going to anchor the new development on Jackson at 23rd. That would be better news.

    • Yeah seems like 23rd and Jackson would be better to give the Central Coop space and to provide a union grocery store when Red Apple is torn down… if the “Save Madison Valley” folks win, I hope PCC will seriously look at the 23rd and Jackson corner!

    • I also remember hearing that there was a non-compete agreement in place with co-ops. Even if there isn’t any such agreement, PCC opening a store at this location seems predatory. I hope the Madison Market can survive as I generally like the store. They are a little expensive for me to do all of my shopping there, but I am a member and find that I can get a nice selection of healthy food within my budget by combining shopping at the Madison Market, Trader Joe’s and Safeway. I park the car at one location and can then walk to all three stores to do my weekly shopping. If the Madison location doesn’t continue to work for the Madison Market, we would love to have them at 23rd and Jackson!

    • I agree with Central Districtite – 23rd and Jackson would be positively transformed by a PCC (better yet, Fred Meyer) and there’s plenty of space, existing parking, etc. just waiting to bring back the promise that was once Promenade.

  4. If you get two blocks off of Madison, the neighborhood is essentially the same as it always has been. Develop the heck out of Madison corridor so the residents can walk to shopping and food. Madison Valley needs a good modern grocer.

    • The walkability of E Madison in Madison Valley and the streets surrounding it may well be destroyed by the traffic caused by this kind of development and “destination retailer”

    • matt – traffic lights do not solve any problems. Any traffic system has a maximum amount of traffic it can keep flowing. The existing traffic lights on MLK/E Madison and Lake Washington Blvd/E Madison already can’t cope with the volume of traffic at rush hour

    • paddy, you are right to be concerned about the traffic impacts. 157 new slots for cars spots is a lot and definitely will become a traffic generator. Fewer spots would be one way to discourage some of that new car traffic.

    • @pragmatic. Having fewer parking spots will not discourage people from shopping at PCC – it will just push drivers to park on nearby streets and during peak times, when parking is at a premium, cause drivers to circle the block until something opens up.

    • For all of the anti-parking spot people, do you ever shop for more than one person? Better yet, how about a family of four? If you can figure out how to store that many groceries in a couple of bags, you’re a better Tetris player than I. And I was a pro player.

  5. To be fair, the Save Madison Valley group isn’t necessarily trying to stop this development, but rather trying to make sure it fits in with the character of the surrounding residential neighborhood. I’m a neighbor and think, if done right, this development could be great for Madison Valley.

  6. One of the Save Madison Valley commenters put it best when he wrote, “Looks like Dewey will now be a 70 foot cinderblock wall instead of green space. ‘The Great Wall of Madison Valley.'” This behemoth with rise 70 feet above the neighborhood on the south side of the drawing pictured here, shutting out sunlight and dwarfing an entire neighborhood that sits below the level of Madison street, an taking out a green belt. Here’s a picture for scale: All that for ANOTHER overpriced grocery store, high priced apartments and more cement in an area so plagued with flooding that a woman actually drowned in her basement? What a horrible plan.

    • @Jim98122x – actually the development is to the West of Dewey Place and the houses below it. That means that it will throw a shadow over them in the afternoon. The other side are the Madison Lofts on E Madison with their big windows to catch the morning sun – which would now be blocked by the development…

    • Timmy73 wrote ” I wish we built 10, 15, 20 floor buildings along Madison, Pike, Pine, Broadway and parts of E John. This places people near mass transit options and keeps quieter areas of our city quiet.” Have you been to Madison Valley at night? It’s very quiet. Clearly you don’t live here. There are also big problems on that slope – a woman drowned in her basement. There’s an underground stream. What we don’t need is more cement on the slope.

      As for the suggestion that no one living in the valley finds PCC unaffordable – again, clearly you know nothing about the neighborhood and think everyone living here moved here in the last 5 years.

  7. Yes, people need to understand that this lot has a very steep slope on the backside of the proposed building.

    This building would be 4 stories on Madison, but it would be 7 or 8 stories on Dewey Street. That’s way too big for a building right next to modest-sized single-family houses.

    • So are you recommending a 1 floor building on Madison for the sake of houses to the South of this development?

      I think when you live 1 or 2 blocks off a main arterial, you have to eventually expect that vertical growth will (and should) occur next to you.

    • @Timmy73 – while technically next to E Madison, Dewey Place is not directly accessible from it.

      One of the problems here is how you reconcile the building codes on the edge of a commercial zone that backs onto a single family residential zone – let alone factor in a 20′ – 30′ grade difference.

      You say “Just build”, but at what point do you have to start scaling back the development? If you’ve developed to 4 stories two blocks back from the main road, why stop there? You’ve already encroached onto the single family residential zone, so why stop?

      At what point does the harm caused by out of scale developments on the existing residents become a factor in your equation?

    • @Paddy. I wish we built 10, 15, 20 floor buildings along Madison, Pike, Pine, Broadway and parts of E John.

      This places people near mass transit options and keeps quieter areas of our city quiet. Then you can scale back development so we’re not mowing everything down to build thousands of stubby buildings.

      So, sorry for those living on the back side of this proposed development but that’s life living near an arterial in high-demand areas of Seattle.

  8. with the way development in seattle is going, it will happen sooner or later. Better to do it now and get involved in the project. I,m happy to see PCC coming.

    • if you walk your dogs along Dewey Place like many of our neighbors then you might not be so happy during and after the development.

  9. Every story on land use:

    * Won’t someone think of the trees??

    * This is out of character with the neighborhood!

    * This should be 100% affordable!

    • you forgot a few:

      * This project is terrible – it needs to be at least DOUBLE the height. Then everyone’s rent will magically go down.

      * anyone who is not completely behind this development (special exemption given to those who want it taller) is a NIMBY who thinks they are living in Bellevue and should move there immediately.

      * This project needs either double or half the parking, depending on who’s posting.

    • Besides the parking thing, I’ve never seen any comment like that on any land use posts here. Can you provide an example?

      To provide an example for my point, one land use post a few weeks ago detailed a woman who was against a building because her cat Prince Tugboat would lose a tree. Even spawned the great @prince_tugboat Twitter account!

  10. So, the three major obstacles regarding this project are that people might start driving on residential streets, the building will cast a shadow, and people may or may not enjoy walking their dog down Dewey Place anymore? Someone get OSHA on this quick.

  11. I do wonder what the other side of the building looks like. The back of the nursery is very steep – is it zoned a steep slope / slide area ? That may limit what they can do maybe.

    Also traffic is appalling at that intersection already.

    If 20000 people each gave $100 we could have a nice community owned gardening store….

  12. I think this is a great addition to the neighborhood. The PCC in Columbia City has better quality groceries and pre-made food than Whole Foods at a similar price. I’m really excited to have this option in Madison Valley vs the Red Apple, Safeway, etc…

    I don’t understand the argument that we should limit development because of currently inadequate infrastructure. It’s already very busy on Madison during rush hour with folks trying to get to/from 520 via the Arboretum. They already need to upgrade the streets in this area, might as well do so and add to the existing neighborhood with something useful.

    It does add a good chunk of height to block the sun for those down the hill, but… those homes are already behind a very tall hill. There’s a house right off the street whose roof is street level, should we not build anything next to that?

    • You lost me at the ‘similar price to whole foods’ part. The rest of us are up at Safeway.

      The city does show this lot as having topography nuisance so they may have to work around the slope with a little more care.

      Also seems like they did a good deal with the city – the current improvement value is listed as
      $1000 ! The land is valued at $2.8m.

    • That’s just silly. No one that shops in Madison Valley is unable to afford PCC. City Peoples is expensive, as are the rest of the shops and restaurants in that neighborhood.

  13. Excuse me, but –typically– has anyone thought about what it will mean for traffic on Madison St when cars have to pull in and out of a PCC? Here’s the city about to spend 90 million+ on a Madison St “rapid” bus line, and this will slow every down incredibly– especially if the “solution” is another stop light.

    • Scene 1: Ext. Arthur Dent’s House. Day.

      Come off it Mister Dent you can’t win you know! Look, there’s no point in lying down in the path of progress!

      I’ve gone off the idea of progress. It’s overrated!

      But you must realise that you can’t lie in front of the bulldozers indefinitely!

      I’m game. We’ll see who rusts first.