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.
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.
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 Workshop. Berger 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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