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16,000-square-foot H Mart grocery will be at center of Capitol Hill Station mixed-use development

Inside the U District H Mart (Image: CHS)

CHS reported in March on negotiations for Korean grocery chain H Mart to lease the centerpiece retail space in the development under construction atop Broadway’s Capitol Hill Station.

While the company and lead developer Gerding Edlen still won’t talk about the deal, permit activity confirms the plans are a go as the mixed-use affordable and market rate housing, retail, and community development moves toward a 2020 opening.

As CHS reported previously, the plans filed in August show H Mart’s project will take the prime Broadway street frontage near the north entry to the busy light rail station. Plans show a layout with more than 11,000 square feet of store space on the ground level plus a 5,000+ square foot mezzanine.

Filling the Broadway space with a core grocery store tenant has not been easy. Gerding Edlen was initially working with fellow Portland concern New Seasons to be part of the Broadway development but the company has been struggling with expansion plans and labor concerns. It says, by the way, that it remains committed to opening a new store at 23rd and Union — now in 2020. A more local suitor dropped its bid citing cost concerns. Central Co-op had vied for the anchor tenancy above Capitol Hill Station but withdrew from consideration because of “a cost-per-square-foot that was much higher than anticipated.” CHS previously reported that other “top” grocery chains also pulled out of consideration because of the high cost and strange configurations the retail space will require due to restrictions caused by the store’s location above the light rail station.

H Mart stores are known for their Asian foods and home goods and have been on a steady expansion in the Seattle area. The U.S.-based chain featuring fresh produce, meats, seafood, snacks and more opened an outlet of its new District H concept in South Lake Union in September. It is also making plans to open a new store downtown at 2nd and Pine.

Company officials have not returned multiple calls and messages about plans for the new Capitol Hill store and Portland-based developer Gerding Edlen has declined to comment.

Rendering of the mixed-use building the Capitol Hill H Mart will call home (Image: Hewitt)

The Daily Journal of Commerce also reported on the filings but published no confirmation from the company or the developer.

Details of the new store emerge as construction of the housing, retail, and community space plaza above Capitol Hill Station moves into its final 12 months or so of activity. The new development includes new retail, 428 housing units — around 180 of which are planned to be affordable housing, and a new community plaza featuring the AMP: AIDS Memorial Pathway remembering those who have succumbed to — and those who have survived HIV and AIDS. In addition to H Mart, a daycare facility is planned to be part of the retail offerings in the project.

While most shoppers will likely ride light light rail or walk to the store, the development will also welcome drivers with a planned 216 parking stalls for cars. Bicyclists will also be accommodated with parking for more than 250 riders.

Construction began in summer of 2018. CHS reported here on how to keep track of construction updates during the two years of work the development is expected to require.

Sound Transit opened the U-Link extension and the new station below Broadway in March 2016. That summer, Sound Transit signed a 99-year lease with Gerding Edlen to develop the properties it had acquired surrounding the station. The Portland-based developer is leading the project with designs from Hewitt and Schemata WorkshopBerger Partnership is landscape architect for the entire site and part of the design super team working on the Capitol Hill Station development project. Capitol Hill Housing will develop and operate the affordable housing component of the project on the block’s northeast corner.

Details of the new Capitol Hill H Mart also arrive as competitors make new plans in the neighborhood. QFC is planning a major overhaul of its Harvard Market store at Pike and Broadway as Amazon is preparing to open a new grocery store nearby. Safeway, meanwhile, is eyeing the prime real estate its 15th and John store and parking lot call home for a major mixed-use development. A year ago this October, meanwhile, Amazon’s Whole Foods opened at Broadway and Madison with a new two-level, 40,000-square-foot store.

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28 thoughts on “16,000-square-foot H Mart grocery will be at center of Capitol Hill Station mixed-use development

      • I’m all for diversity but when I googled H Mart and saw their storefront aesthetic it was an immediate turn off. It looks very low rent and from the descriptions of its offerings I suspect the offerings will be much the same. That all said, I realize I’m probably an outlier and should just accept that Broadway is now home to Urgent Cares, Nail Salons, mobile shops, and low margin/high volume food establishments. The cheese stand alone.

      • “It looks very low rent”

        This idea that every new store/restaurant needs to adhere to the same copy-paste, bougie, upscale aesthetic is plaguing this city and especially the neighborhood and killing the diversity of options

    • Sadly an ethnic chain grocery store is what passes for diversity in the new Cap Hill.

      We don’t need another grocery store, but these chains are some of the only companies profitable and stable enough to be anchor tenets in these massive new developments. It won’t stop with this one.

      Also, Seattle cares so much about pedestrians that it lets the developers rip up and close the sidewalk on the exit/entrance block to one of its shiniest new public transit hubs. I’m hoping to have access to the south side sidewalk on John between the station and 11th ave sometime before winter.

      • For those of us that live just west of Broadway, many of us would disagree with you; we do need another grocery store.

        If you live between I5 and Broadway, and don’t feel like walking 8+ blocks uphill in the rain/cold, your options are QFC, QFC, or Whole Foods. I think many of us will welcome H Mart.

      • Mike-i agree chains are probably the only stores that can fill these big retail spots and I, for one, wouldn’t mind seeing more of them (missing Jack in the Box). The closed sidewalk is a different matter. They are putting in a new sidewalk which necessitates closing it. Having said that the contractor did a lousy (non-existent?) job of community outreach and a worse job placing signage. Helpful hint-closed signs go at the beginning of the closed blocks, not at (or behind) the start of construction.

      • @zeebleoop: I agree. I have been a regular customer of the Broadway Market QFC for many years, but find it lacking in many ways. Hopefully, H Mart will be an improvement. We’ll see.

      • “Sadly an ethnic chain grocery store is what passes for diversity in the new Cap Hill.”

        Well, when your city/neighborhood is already severely lacking in diversity and culture i’ll take what I can get thanks.

  1. I can’t wait to have another option. All of my co-workers that live int he burbs near H-Marts love them! Being in Northwest Cap Hill my only walkable option for groceries right now is QFC, which, with the cameras and aggressive and prolific rent-a-cops they have, has become a gestapo like police-state.

    Most of the negative comments are obviously from ignorant white folks who are mad that a people of color focused business might actually get some foothold on the hill, obviously and probably were hoping for Godfather’s Pizza to come back.

  2. H Mart sounds good to me, I like different choices. Bonus if they can manage some organic produce and less packaging. And if, as rumor has it, the TOD project is indeed having trouble renting out the smaller commercial spaces bordering the public space (as opposed to street front), may I suggest turning them into minimalist white boxes and renting out as pop up shops? I was not a Glossier shopper but jfc did they pull a crowd.

  3. I don’t think it’s about adding diversity, but Capitol Hill has changed so much that I guess this will count as diversity.

    It’ll be interesting because you have the ID nearby with home grown Uwajimaya and smaller mom and pop grocery stores close by. It’s true this national retailer will be in a better position to market to the SLU/Capitol Hill monied crowd. We’ll see what effect, if any, this big grocery chain will have on Uwajimaya and the ID small grocery stores.

    • I doubt it will have any affect on stores in the ID as most people on Capitol Hill aren’t going there for the bulk of their grocery purchases. You are assuming that people who will shop at H Mart only want Asian groceries whereas meat, vegetables, and staples can all be used in a variety of cuisines.

      But, you are right, it’s not about diversity. It’s about offering another option for groceries to residents near the light rail station. That could have been New Seasons, Central Co-Op or other stores but it just so happens to be H Mart.

      We all need to stop over-thinking it, let the damn place open, and then determine if it brings value to the neighborhood. Otherwise it’s just speculation based on everyone’s flawed opinions (I include myself in that).

  4. Couple things to note- 16000 sq feet is tiny- this is likely a space closer to District H and not a full blown grocery store.

    2nd- For those who think this will be a cheap asian market then you missed the part where Central Coop passed due to the rent cost. High rent, small footprint, likely means high(er) prices than a standard Hmart.

    • I’m with you Bob. I think H Mart is aiming for the more upscale, prepared food crowd. They can afford WF. If people want cheaper Asian grocery, they’ll hop on the streetcar or rail to the ID for it. Plus you can get great Bbq and Asian baked goods/dessert.

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