Rumors surrounding the Broadway Market are nothing new. But change is coming to the retail center in a form that will drastically change its character. Plans are now underway for a QFC supermarket to occupy the majority of the two-story shopping arcade.
A Tuesday, June 15, release from Madison Marquette, the market's owner, offered confirmation and shed light on the Broadway Market's future. The release specified that the market will be redeveloped to include a 63,000 square-foot QFC. The large renovation will take over the existing Fred Meyer store, though Fred Meyer's pharmacy will be integrated into the new QFC.
QFC will relocate its existing 22,000 square-foot North Broadway branch, located immediately north of the Broadway Market. Some tenants, such as Urban Outfitters and Hot Topic, will relocate within the mall during construction and remain when the new QFC opens, while others will no doubt have to relocate. (In addition, on Thursday, June 10, Terero's, the Mexican restaurant on the market's top floor, submitted an application for a permit to expand its restaurant.)
Construction is expected to begin next month. A timeline for the expansion was not available at press time.
That QFC will vacate its current north Broadway store creates an opportunity for the much-rumored redevelopment of that property.
Fred Meyer, as well as QFC, are owned by the Kroger Company. Based in Portland, Kroger did not respond to calls for comment. But a permit application, filed on April 19 that requested, among other tenant improvements, the "expansion of existing retail store with added grocery functions" indicated that change was on its way. Visible signs of possible redevelopment included the sudden closure Panda Express in early June. That business had moved into the space barely a year ago.
"I have no definite information myself," said Eric Thomas, who manages the Broadway Market's Fred Meyer, last week. "There are all kinds of rumors. Nothing is certain. It seems to feed on itself."
But in early June, according to a Fred Meyer cashier who chose to remain nameless, a meeting was held in which employees were told that a grocery store owned by Kroger would be moving in.
Such a large change could increase the market's economic viability. While the Gold's Gym replaced the Broadway Market cinema 18 months ago, the mall has hardly been thriving in recent years. Last year saw The Gap's departure when the nationwide retailer opted not to renew its lease. The prominent La Battelle French bakery space on the main floor has remained conspicuously empty for well over a year. Many of the kiosk spaces essential to promoting a sense of vitality remain unoccupied
Paul Dwoskin, owner of Broadway Video and chair of the Broadway Business Improvement Association, said he is taking a wait-and-see attitude. Broadway Video was the Broadway Market's first tenant in 1988; Dwoskin acquired it in 1994.
"I haven't seen anything official yet," he said. "I've heard rumors that my store is leaving and also that its staying. But I think this change has been in the works for a long time."
Dwoskin said that having a large grocery store take up probably the largest part of the Broadway Market could help its fortunes, particularly in the area of public safety. Reduced open space and greater foot traffic could reduce the amount of loitering, often seen as a detriment the arcade's business climate.
While the move could bode well for the Broadway Market's economic future, losing small, independent businesses in favor of a grocery store would certainly drastically alter the market's character.
One kiosk operator, who also chose to remain nameless, lamented that he did not expect he will be allowed to stay.
The Broadway Market took its present form following a major redesign of a existing Fred Meyer store in the late 1980s. At that time the market's current arcade was established. The building contains nearly 100,000 square-feet of retail space, underground parking for more than 200 cars and 30 apartments spread among its upper floors
Madison Marquette is a national property management company based in Washington, D.C. The company owns and operates 28 million square feet of space, a large percentage of it in California.
Locally, in addition to the Broadway Market, the company owns 601 Pine Street downtown (where Old Navy is located), the Commons at Issaquah and the Lake Forest Park Town Center.
Doug Schwartz is the editor of the Capitol Hill Times. He can be reached at email@example.com or 461-1308.