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Company sale means New Seasons won’t be coming to Central District throwing plans for new 23rd and Union grocery up in the air

(Image: New Seasons)

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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32 Comments
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louise
louise
11 months ago

Bring a Metropolitan Market to Capitol Hill please!

Andrew Taylor
Andrew Taylor
11 months ago
Reply to  louise

23rd and Union is part of Capitol Hill now?
News to the Africatown supporters.

(FWIW it’s the “Central Area” to long-time residents and the “Central District”, or CD, to more recent arrivals).

D Del Rio
D Del Rio
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Taylor

I remember years ago that real estate agents were trying to list their Central District listings as being in South Capitol Hill.

CD Neighbor
CD Neighbor
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Taylor

When I bought my house almost 25 years ago the most creative dodge was calling the area ‘Madison Heights’, but yeah I saw it listed as South Capitol Hill too…..

CityOfVagrants
CityOfVagrants
11 months ago
Reply to  louise

It’s only capitol hill to desperate real estate agents.

Xtian Gunther
Xtian Gunther
11 months ago
Reply to  CityOfVagrants

You mean ‘to lying, greedy, immoral real estate agents’. I don’t think there are many, if any ‘desperate’ real estate agents in Seattle these days.

Sasha
Sasha
11 months ago
Reply to  louise

@D Del Rio: This is still happening on Cherry Hill. Almost every listing I see as far south as Jefferson are listed as being on Capitol Hill or steps away from Capitol Hill or South Capitol Hill. Never any mention of the Central District. Real estate agents are well aware of the Central District boundaries and are very aware of what message this sends. I’ve asked the Central Area Chamber of Commerce to replace the sign on Madison and Union with a nicer one and put up more so we can gently remind people that we are proud of our neighborhood and won’t be erased.

Sasha
Sasha
11 months ago
Reply to  louise

@D Del Rio: This is still happening on Cherry Hill. Almost every listing I see as far south as Jefferson are listed as being on Capitol Hill or steps away from Capitol Hill or South Capitol Hill. Never any mention of the Central District. Real estate agents are well aware of the Central District boundaries and are very aware of what message this sends. I’ve asked the Central Area Chamber of Commerce to replace the “Welcome to the Central Area” sign on Madison and Union with a nicer one and put up more so we can gently remind people that we are proud of our neighborhood and won’t be erased.

Alan
Alan
11 months ago

A Wal-Mart, Bartells and a Taco Bell, please.

Harrison
Harrison
11 months ago
Reply to  Alan

There’s a Bartell’s on the top level of the Harvard Market, right? (On top of the QFC @ Pike x Broadway.)

Spiffy D
Spiffy D
11 months ago
Reply to  Harrison

there’s also a new Bartells coming in across the street at 23rd and Union.

Per the article.

Alex S.
Alex S.
11 months ago

Well, that’s a bummer. I like Metropolitan Market, but I like the niche New Seasons carved out for itself. Less fussy and fancy than Metropolitan Market.

Harrison
Harrison
11 months ago

What is going to go into the new buildings at the Capitol Hill station?

Jack
Jack
11 months ago
Reply to  Harrison

H-mart, not sure if they’ve announced anything else yet

p-patch
p-patch
11 months ago

Looks like all those anti – New Seasons yard signs worked!

Spiffy D
Spiffy D
11 months ago
Reply to  p-patch

You think yard signs caused New Seasons to be sold to a South Korean company? Seems unlikely.

Ryan A
Ryan A
11 months ago

Wow- nice scoop CHS.

What could move into the space? It doesn’t feel like we need two grocery stores at that corner. How about a really nice Post Office?

Andrew Taylor
Andrew Taylor
11 months ago
Reply to  Ryan A

I _think_ that capitalism still decides, to some extent, what stores go where. If a grocery store thinks there’s a profit to be made, then maybe there will be a grocery store.
Though sometimes there are adjustments: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/kitty-corner-vancouver-starbucks-to-close-down-1.1245188

tktk
tktk
11 months ago
Reply to  Ryan A

Doesn’t sound like there will be any grocery store.

oliveoyl
oliveoyl
11 months ago
Reply to  Ryan A

Ryan, there are no other grocers planned for 23rd & Union – the SE corner will have a Bartells and the post office is going in across the street next to Taco Chukis

Chris
Chris
11 months ago

Maybe PCC will abandon the contested Madison valley site and occupy the abandoned space?

Kirk L Blackden
Kirk L Blackden
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris

That is an excellent idea for PCC !! I second that ! Then that way our City People’s can stay where it is .

Xtian Gunther
Xtian Gunther
11 months ago

Third! C’mon PCC. Better yet, Town & Country could open a market there and it would kill it, just like Ballard Market does. I don’t know why the new owners didn’t wish to open a Met Market there. The CD definitely needs a proper market. Apart from Grocery Outlet (technically on the Madrona side of MLK) and a Safeway on it’s Capitol Hill border, the CD has zero full service supermarkets. Shameful and bigoted.

Xtian
Xtian
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Actually, the very, very, very best solution here is for Sprouts to open in this space! They are much more affordable to the area residents. As much as I love the goals of PCC, they are the most expensive grocer in the state.

Wouldntthatbeaagas?
Wouldntthatbeaagas?
11 months ago

New Amazon grocery store? :))

Sasha
Sasha
11 months ago

Amazon Go? NO. Not a good fit for the neighborhood at all.

D Del Rio
D Del Rio
11 months ago

Not everyone in Seattle is rich. We have more than enough upscale markets all over town. How about a Winco? I believe 100% they would be packed all the time. They are all over the place outside the Seattle city limits. They are not union, but they are employee owned. Not sure that would make any difference for the union.

Nope
Nope
11 months ago

A new seasons – which is even more $$ than whole foods would have made no sense for that location. The one in Ballard is a ghost town as well.

Agree with above – put PCC in and leave city people’s.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
11 months ago
Reply to  Nope

I never understood how New Seasons survived. They were way overpriced for what they were. You could get way better quality stuff at PCC or even Whole Foods, for a similar price.

In the end, it was their active union busting that kept me far away.

Sonja
Sonja
11 months ago

I have been dreaming of having a Fred Meyer close by and was wishing it would happen somewhere close, though I guess this space is probably not big enough. But I keep dreaming!

Andrea
Andrea
11 months ago
Reply to  Sonja

I second that!!!!

SEATOWNGUY91
SEATOWNGUY91
11 months ago

A really good Chinese take-out restaurant would work for me. A Popeye’s sounds good too! Oh!…and what is a ‘hood’ without a liquor store?? jk…