With its city and its Central District neighborhood grappling with issues of equity and gentrification in a summer of Black Lives Matter protest, the new Amazon Fresh grocery coming to 23rd and Jackson will mark an interesting milestone when it opens later this year.
Typically secretive, the Seattle retail and tech giant has yet to confirm the Central District plans CHS unearthed in February describing a new 25,000-square-foot grocery store under construction in the massive Vulcan development underway at the corner where the neighborhood Red Apple and a collection of shopping center businesses used to stand.
But its latest permitting efforts confirm what the company’s PR department won’t — Amazon is opening a new grocery store at 23rd and Jackson.
Unlike the Amazon Go store that opened on E Pike earlier this year, industry analysts say the new Amazon Fresh concepts will resemble traditional groceries with aisles of goods, delis, and fresh produce, along with pick-up options for the company’s increasingly robust online grocery shopping options. They’ll also represent an alternative to the company’s Whole Foods chain which opened a store at Broadway and Madison in October 2018.
The Central District grocery options are increasing rapidly. Co-op chain PCC opened its CD store at 23rd and Union in June.
At 23rd and Jackson, the Red Apple was demolished in early 2018 to make way for construction of the Jackson Apartments, a set of seven-story buildings from developer Vulcan Real Estate with plans for a combined 532 apartments, a whopping 44,000 square feet of commercial space, a massive amount of underground parking with room for more than 500 vehicles, and, yes, a 25,000-square-foot main retail space. Permits indicate a main floor of around 20,000 feet for the store with another 5,000 in the mezzanine, plus 2,400 square feet of kitchen.
Vulcan says a “public plaza and retail pavilion” at 23rd and Jackson will include “three micro-retail spaces.”
“Each space is approximately 520 square feet in size, but these small footprints will have a big impact,” the developer’s update reads. “Less costly to outfit and operate, micro-retail provides an option for small businesses to activate the plaza at Jackson.”
Vulcan says it is partnering with Seattle-based nonprofit Ventures, which provides business training and access to capital to “aspiring entrepreneurs with limited resources and unlimited potential.”
Jackson Apartments is a market-rate housing development but is making units available to low income renters. Affordable housing there will be available for incomes at 65 to 90% of the area’s median income. “Residents will enjoy ground-floor retail amenities including a grocery store,” the marketing materials note.
Meanwhile, part of this summer’s protests and rallies for Black Lives Matter causes has centered on Central District development and efforts to transfer city properties to Black-led organizations for redevelopment and to create a $1 billion “anti-gentrification, land acquisition fund.”
Amazon has also remained a target of “progressive revenue” efforts in the city as the Seattle City Council approved a new $200 million a year tax on big businesses as part of a package to help the city weather the COVID-19 economic crisis and build affordable housing. Part of that package will include at least $18 million year to fund the construction of new affordable housing in the Central District.
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