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Should the state spend $20M more to save the Montlake Market?

Some Montlake neighbors are calling on the Washington State Department of Transportation to add some 45 days and $20 million of construction to a key SR-520 project in order to save the neighborhood’s grocery and quick stop market.

Thursday is the final day of an online survey process WSDOT is using to gauge public interest in three main possible scenarios — preserve the Montlake Market but close it during construction, preserve the market and allow the store to continue operating through construction, or tear it all down. You can take the WSDOT survey here through 5 PM Thursday.

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“The Montlake Community Club is urging neighbors to tell WSDOT that the market is worth saving for 45 extra days of construction. WSDOT has also estimated that keeping the market open could add $20 million to the project budget, and we say it’s worth it,” the neighborhood club’s Montlake Flyer reports.

The $455.3 million project to create an improved Montlake Boulevard interchange, a landscaped lid over SR 520, a bicycle and pedestrian “land bridge” east of the lid, and a three-lane West Approach Bridge South over Union Bay for eastbound traffic has included plans to remove the store and the gas station but WSDOT has opened itself to finding another plan in response to strong community pushback and following legal attempts to stop the work.

At a January meeting about the market situation, WSDOT discussed “potential scenarios and tradeoffs related to the market-preservation effort.” The WSDOT presentation from the meeting detailing potential cost and construction time impacts is posted here.

Construction is slated to start in early 2019 start and the work could wrap up in 2023.

Montlake Project: Outreach and public involvement

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22 thoughts on “Should the state spend $20M more to save the Montlake Market?

  1. My answer to the headline: nope.

    There are two Safeways, a QFC, and will, hopefully sooner rather later, be a PCC all within two miles of the Montlake Market.

  2. The state shouldn’t pay for something that almost exclusively benefits a small neighborhood. Maybe the city can do a special tax assessment on Montlake like the waterfront did…

  3. So if it costs $20M to not tear down the Montlake Market, I’m wondering if there other homes or businesses they could tear down to save more on the project?

    They should tear down as much as possible to save as much money as possible.

    Or at least identify a house they could tear down instead of the market…the house just has one family as opposed to the market which serves the entire community.

  4. Isn’t there another market a few blocks south on 24th? It’s not like this is a food desert in a poor neighborhood. There’s another store a few blocks away.

    • Do you mean Mont’s? It’s pretty tiny,(it’s amazing what they do manage to pack in there, but it’s still limited in selection) and fairly expensive..

      I can’t say I use the Montlake Market, but I can see why the neighborhood would want to preserve it. It’s one of the few places to buy food that can be walked to from the immediate area. While there are big grocery stores just down the road at University Village, getting to them without using a car would be more than bit of a pain… there is no bus that goes straight there, even from the University of Washington Transit center… so it’s at least a 1/2 hour journey with one transfer to get 1.7 miles (each way)..

      Could you walk? – sure, but I’ll tell you that I walk all over the place. It’s one of my preferred methods of getting around, but if I am cooking and in need of something, about 1/4 of a mile in each direction is around my limit for how far I want to chase after an ingredient on foot…

      • All that is true, but I have a hard time believing there are too many households in that neighborhood that don’t have cars. Yes, there are lots of places in Seattle that are pretty workable without a car, but they all have much better access to transit than this surrounding area, for all the reasons you stated. For anyone without a car, that would be an exceptionally foolish place to choose to live.

      • Yes, I meant Mont’s. Agreed it is small, but then again, the Montlake store isn’t all that big either. I doubt many people do all their grocery shopping there. It is a mini-mart, for all intents and purposes, the same way City Market on Olive and Bellevue is.

  5. For whatever reason, the community council has chosen to emphasis loss of the market, but loss of the adjacent gas station will be much more inconvenient than loss of the market. If the gas station closes, it will be necessary to drive out of the neighborhood to find a gas station. And yes, I take public transportation a lot, and I walk a lot, but I also own a car.

  6. Cost benefit analysis. How much would it cost the project if the Montlake Community Club and or the Market owners sued? Would the delay cost the State even more than $20M? One more thing to factor in to this complex equation.

  7. Wow, $20 million to save one building for a neighborhood. (is there a covenant in place that stipulates the property owner cannot sell her building after this project completes?)

  8. Huh, which one of the neighborhood proposals covers ‘get rid of the ridiculous zoning limitations that mean nobody is ever going to build a new market’?

  9. It seems like the Montlake Group wants us all to spend $20 million or there is a threat of a lawsuit. It almost feels like an enterprise better suited for the mafia.

  10. As ever with wsdot we get multiple versions of things with widely varying numbers toward their desired solution. How can it possibly cost $20m more than the base scheme which claims to keep the building ? Are they digging a moat around it and need sea planes to fly each customer in ? How about just make a new entrance in the side and shut off the front and back.

    It’s also interesting that such money is available for a commercial property, when those of us who live in site of the structure being built will probably not get any help for loss of rental income, need for better glazing, AC, noise abatement etc etc.

  11. The net would likely be less than the $15M – $20M indicated, once parcel acquisition and tax revenues are subtracted. $15M-$20M is the estimated change order from Graham Construction to the state. But if the market is preserved, then the state does not need to buy the parcel (presumably in the millions). Also, the state would continue to receive the sales tax & property tax revenue (about $1M/yr apparently, though you could make the argument that most of the sales tax revenue would shift to other stores). Also note that this isn’t the usual Seattle upscaling – this is the state acquiring the property mostly to use as construction staging & storage for the next *12* years. If the plan was more typical & temporary, it’s an easier decision – take it down and see what the free market creates in a few years. Also, the state really should have considered this much earlier – it’s always more expensive to do a late change order than to make it part of the original plan.

  12. Maybe ya’ll haven’t had the chicken tenders from Montlake Market. Because if you had you’d probably share my POV that $20M is a steal to keep that joint open.

    Most of you are probably vegan and just won’t understand.

  13. Isn’t there a brand new, empty, retail space smack in the heart of Montlake in that new apartment building? Maybe the Market could move there?

    My opinion: the market can go. their weird drive-through parking lot (22nd Ave) can go. the awkward slip lane to and from Roanoke can go. Square up those intersections. It’s already too congested around there and difficult for all users. A freeway/stroad interchange isn’t the best place for that market anyway. #bye

  14. The complaint about the $20 million dollar price tag to save Montlake Market and Gas Station is a little simplistic. I thought we were concerned about cost/benefit analysis and the lack of support of infrastructure projects. I thought we were environmentalists. I thought we care about the health and well being of others. I thought we cared about small businesses (QFC and Safeway are not small businesses).

    WSDOT failed to include the cost to purchase the property in their analysis. The value is somewhere between $8 and $20 million dollars depending on your point of view. For argument sake, assume $10 million. (Cost to save the Market down to $10 Million).

    WSDOT’s analysis assumes 800 cars will go elsewhere on an average daly basis to get the goods and services the Market and Gas Station provide. In Seattle, where do 800 cars go? Trust me on the numbers but assuming they travel 4 miles round trip, and assuming the monetized cost to the environment of a gallon of gas is $4.03, the ten year environmental cost of losing the Market and Gas Station is almost $2 million. (Cost to save down to $8 Million)

    The Federal Government allows $.58 per mile traveled for gas, insurance, wear and tear of your car. This would total $6.8 million. (Cost to save down to $1.2 million)

    A car causes $1.00 worth of damage to the roads per mile driven. Assuming 4 mile round trip, total damage costs over ten years equals totals $11.7 million. (Cost to save the Market saves us $10.5 million)

    Given the traffic on Montlake, you have to assume 20 minutes of added travel time per trip. Assuming 800 trips per day and a $20.00 per hour pay rate over 10 years, the additional travel times costs $19.3 million just in today’s dollars. (Costs to save the Market and Gas Station saves us $29.8 million)

    These are just a few of the costs.

    How do you define the cost of lost productivity when 800 cars go to other locations and interfere with the travel times of others?

    Bottom line: the $20 million in costs to save the Market is cheap as compared to Purchase Price, Environmental, Infrastructure and Social costs to tear it down.

  15. Montlake Market is a historic Seattle landmark but it is not a relic of the past. In the 70s and 80s it was called Super Foods. In the 90s it was Hop In. It is the commerce and social center for lower Montlake. It is also an urban rest stop for public transit riders and car commuters. If Seattle’s future is a network of urban villages Montlake Market is one of the key synapses connecting the city

    • “Commerce and social center?” “Urban rest stop”? Oh, please. I also want to see the market and gas station saved, but such reality-free exaggeration does not help the cause.

      • It’s all good @neighbor. People have become more isolated and alone in our technocentric times. The value the market provides weary commuters and it’s neighbor’s is not an exaggeration. The recent winter weather demonstrated how important the Market is to our community.