When mixed-use development East Union opened to residents last year but the windows of its large 23rd and Union retail space remained papered-over month after month, neighbors worried that the much anticipated arrival of a new neighborhood grocery store might never happen. Those fears might have been warranted.
Portland-based New Seasons has been sold to the South Korean grocery company that owns the Metropolitan Market chain throwing any plans for Seattle expansion and an opening in the Central District out the window.
“As a result, New Seasons Market announced today that Metropolitan Market will acquire the Mercer Island, Washington location and convert the store by mid-2020,” an announcement of the deal reads. “The New Seasons Market Ballard, Washington location will close by the end of the year, and New Seasons will not open a new location in the Central District of Seattle as originally planned.”
“We are working with the landlord on a transition, and will be making donations to local nonprofits as an appreciation for their support,” a spokesperson for New Seasons tells CHS.
CHS has been reporting on the delayed opening — and continued plans — for the grocer since early 2018 as the New Seasons company dealt with corporate drama and shifting expansion strategies. Late last year, hope for peace between the chain and local labor groups broke down but the issues did not appear to be likely to derail the business.
The further delays for a grocery in the Central District join another project long on pause in the area. In Madison Valley, the long-planned mixed-use project hoped to also bring a PCC to the neighborhood remain ins development limbo.
What will come next for the 23rd and Union space is not known. CHS has reached out to developer Lake Union Partners to learn more but has not yet heard back on the situation. The developers have been busy at the corner and are currently watching as the Midtown: Public Square project rises on 23rd and Union’s southeast corner. The retail core of that mixed-use development is planned to be a large store from regional pharmacy chain Bartell’s. UPDATE: A Lake Union Partners representative said there is currently “nothing to report” about any plans for a replacement tenant in the development.
UPDATE 6:30 PM: The United Food and Commercial Workers union has weighed in on the decision to cut the New Seasons Central District expansion and close the Ballard store. Faye Guenther, UFCW 21 President, issued the following statement:
We never want workers to lose their jobs. We wanted New Seasons to respect workers’ rights and industry standards that grocery store workers have fought for and won over the last three decades. UFCW 21’s goal now is to make sure every Ballard New Seasons worker has a good quality job and that every worker lands on their feet. UFCW 21 hopes all workers someday have a union job with a written contract that ensures workers have health care, a pension they can rely on and a voice at work. In the meantime, labor and our community partners will do everything we can to assist New Seasons workers.
CHS reported here in 2017 on the labor opposition to the New Seasons company.
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