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Capitol Hill Safeway redevelopment moves forward with plans for seven-story apartment project above new grocery

The plan to redevelop the Capitol Hill Safeway at 15th and John and its giant surface parking lot as new mixed-housing above a new grocery store is moving forward.

Plans filed with the city last week show the grocery chain’s $11 million-plus, 100,000-square-foot property at the top of Capitol Hill is being planned for a new mixed-use development that will rise seven stories above a new, larger grocery store.

The Daily Journal of Commerce reported the filing Monday. CHS reported on the early planning on the effort in September as developers began the process of setting up community outreach for the design process.

According to the information filed with the city, the architectural firm on the project is Weber Thompson on a team lead by national developer Greystar. The DJC reports the developers are also working on a similar plan for the U District Safeway.

Capitol Hill’s “Store 1551” was left out of last summer’s announcements about the company’s plans to develop new mixed-use projects on a handful of Seattle store properties and overhaul many of its area stores.

Acquired for less than $1 million in 1993 according to King County records, the 15th and John Safeway land is nearly 100,000 square feet of property dominated by the large grocery store and the larger surface parking lot. Competing with three QFCs within walking distance, Safeway #1551 has mostly stuck to the basics with few changes over the years.

There used to be two Safeways on the Hill. In the summer of 2006, its Broadway store was torn down to make way for the Brix condos.

The preliminary site plan for the Capitol Hill Safeway redevelopment shows a layout that would shift the store’s footprint into the corner of the parcel at 14th and John that is now the store’s large surface parking lot. The new parking lot will triple the surface lot’s capacity. It’s planned as a two-level underground garage with room for about 300.

14th and John would become the store’s main entrance at street-level.

UPDATE: One issue for the coming public design process will be the important bus stop location outside the current store on John at 15th. The busy Metro stop is typically crowded with riders and people hanging out. How the project’s design will incorporate the stop will bear watching.

The development would cover most of the block with a layout that appears to have three components — a large grocery and two mixed-use, seven-story towers —  connected by an “internal pedestrian plaza. The filing does not yet indicate how many units are planned. It describes the project as a “new mixed-use, multifamily project with grocery and retail at base.”

The major changes envisioned for the E John Safeway won’t be the only major grocery related development along 15th Ave in coming years. In 2017, Capitol Hill developer Hunters Capital purchased the property home to the 15th Ave E QFC with long-term plans for mixed-use redevelopment.

How quickly the new project will come together remains to be seen. No design review date has been announced and Safeway has not responded to our inquiries about the project.


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33 thoughts on “Capitol Hill Safeway redevelopment moves forward with plans for seven-story apartment project above new grocery

    • I live in the neighborhood and support the redevelopment. However, I have a serious issue with the overall height of 8 stories–retail plus 7. The area is zoned for a total of 55 feet. This would be much higher, even taller than Kaiser Permanete Hospital. I will lobby for a total of 4 stories of apartments on top of the new Safeway–much more in keeping with the surrounding buildings than a monolith of somewhere around 80 feet.

      • As much as anyone is. You born on “the Hill?”

        20y resident. Long enough to miss the buildings and businesses we no longer have.

        PS, it was an attempt at humor. Fierce indeed!

      • My point was more the inability to recognize the actual existing buildings that are in your own neighborhood. Humor isn’t what you think it is in text. The people in that image certainly belong here. And I’ve been here long enough to remember when the Safeway was on the other side of that lot. Neither that nor this are buildings worth mourning when we need housing more than parking lots.

  1. The current building is a blight. I live 2 blocks away and that ugly, massive surface parking lot is just ridiculous.

    What was the deal with building these suburban-style buildings in the middle of the city?

    Such a bad idea.

    And to preempt the Boomers who will get on here and crow about parking: you can all shove it.

    • Why would anyone complain about loss of parking? The article clearly states the new underground parking garage will have 2x the capacity of the surface lot.

      • Hey at least he got to write “Boomer” pejoratively. All that’s missing was a “ya’ll.” #lifegoals

      • The article actually says 3x….. I think PD just wanted a chance to say ‘boomers’……

        It’s a testament to how stupid the original design was that a what, decade and a half old building is being torn down…. not sure who approved the big blank wall on 15th, but I sure hope they are no longer around.

    • It was actually boomers who started the movement back toward density, walkability and transit in the 1970s. Car-centric planning began in earnest in the 1910s and was virtually ubiquitous by the ’30s (though the depression and WW2 delayed its full implementation until the late ’40s). Way too early for boomers to have had any say in it.

  2. Awesome! I remember when this store was rebuilt back in the 90’s (the parking lot used to be on the 15th Ave side) and I thought they missed an opportunity back then to do something more bold like this. Also, I’ve always hated that blank wall along 15th Ave north of the entrance on the corner. This will bring much-needed new housing to the neighborhood and add new retail along the 15th Ave side which will help to make that part of the street more lively. All good stuff.

    • yes! i hate that the grocery store entrance is on the parking lot side, not the street side, with the blank wall on 15th. as a shopper, feels like you’re walking into some grim suburban super center.

      • There was an entrance on 15th, but no doubt Safeway was seeing massive “shrinkage” and didn’t want pay for security to cover two doors. Same reason the QFC at Broadway and Thomas had to close their back entrance.

  3. Wonder who parks in the current lot. Always more cars than customers and staff.

    This is a good project. Let’s see the street go higher. And lose the fake windows. Replace the newish Walgreen with a better design and housing.

    And the Key Bank site and lot.

    The single story stores along the are a wasted opportunity for going higher. But I sure hope some street parking remains and any housing goes underground for parking as well.

  4. Still not really sure how we went from 4 stories to 7, but it is a major corner, and I like this a lot better than what’s there right now.

    I particularly love the inclusion of small retail space along 15th. Good news!

  5. That “internal pedestrian plaza” looks like a nightmare (long, narrow, sandwiched between a hallway and a garage ramp), especially since the actual sidewalk seems to have been minimized to the point of being very uncomfortable. I applaud the improved use of the surface parking lot, and I realize this is a very preliminary site plan, but I have very little trust in Safeway, a national developer, or Weber Thompson to actually get this right.

  6. Roads-wise, isn’t it really slow/confusing/dangerous the way the arterial jogs there from John St onto 15th onto Thomas? The city didn’t want to move the road to fix that as part of redevelopment? The route 8 and route 10 could use it! Pedestrians too – the lack of crosswalk is yikes.

    (Anyone heard when the Safeway might close for redevelopment?)

  7. They can put all the money in the world in the building, but unless they can correct their stocking levels (I am speaking of existing, pre-COVID issues) so they actually have basics like regular milk and eggs on hand, not to mention other basic staples they seem to always lack it may not improve their sales. Safeway is my closest grocery store and over the last several years I find myself weekly having to go to other stores for the most basic of items.

  8. They also plan to knock down the Safeway over in udistrict and redevelop. Seems like qfc is going to get crowded, which may not be so good with covid….

  9. Why are you using a picture of two of my friends for clickbait? I asked them, and you did not ask for their consent. You’re exploiting queer youth for views on an article about construction plans! Do you now see how messed up that is?

    • There is zero legal or moral expectation of privacy from a photo on the street. Get over your indignation. Save it for something meaningful.

    • Not sure how you think the two people you claim are friends of yours are click-bait for this post. Especially given the post’s title of: “Capitol Hill Safeway redevelopment…” I could see your point if the tile was something like: “Queer Youth! Learn More Today!!!”. But that’s not the case.

      Also, you don’t need consent to take pictures of people in a public setting; as in, say, standing on a sidewalk waiting for a bus or to cross the street.

      Your accusation of exploiting queer youth seems like you overreacting. Maybe take a few deep breaths and think about the fact that the image is a fair representation of the diversity of people that you will likely see at this particular corner of Capitol Hill; which happens to be home of a Safeway – the subject of the post.

    • Yup – as the other two have stated, no consent is needed to use a photograph taken in public in a news article.

      Consent is only necessary if the image is being used commercially – being sold, or used to sell / advertise something, or if the use the image is in a way that might be defaming or demeaning to the subject – example – you can use a picture of two random people kissing in a park along with an article about the park, a nice sunny day in the city etc. but it would not be OK to use that picture in an article about the rise of STD’s – because that carries the implication that those people have an STD.

      I cannot see anything here that would run afoul of any of that.

  10. Good.
    This block is a total dead zone.
    I’ve always wondered what the design discussion was to have fake windows on a high pedestrian-traffic retail street.
    Did somebody promise “windows” (Walgreens, I’m looking at you too), but they felt like windows are too much trouble, so brick monolith it is!

    • Windows are a design requirement by the City. But there is apparently no requirement that these windows actually function as windows, rather than be backed by shelves and covered with posters and placards. They follow the letter of the law, but not the spirit and reality of good design.

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