PCC Community Markets will take over space in the Central District vacated by New Seasons Market late last year following its merger with Good Food Holdings.
The grocery space inside Lake Union Partners’ East Union building at 23rd and Union had already been built out when New Seasons pulled out, Good Food Holdings planning to keep its Metropolitan Market as the Seattle region’s exclusive brand.
“As soon as we learned that New Seasons intended to exit the market, we just stepped in,” said PCC Community Markets CEO Cate Hardy. “We just thought it was really important that the neighborhood got the grocery store that they were promised.”
New Seasons’ plans to open a store in the Central District was met with pushback by the community for being an anti-union company. News that PCC would take its place was positively received by the United Food & Commercial Workers 21 union.
“This is a huge win for Seattle workers. For nearly 40 years, PCC has been an excellent partner helping raise the bar for grocery industry standards,” said UFCW 21 president Faye Guenther in a PCC news release. “The Central District PCC will bring quality union jobs with a written contract that provides workers with health care, a pension they can rely on, and a voice at work. UFCW 21 is excited to work with PCC to ensure that this store reflects the neighborhood’s importance as a center of Seattle’s African American community.”
Hardy tells the Madison Park Times that PCC held a Jan. 7 community meeting with Central District residents who had been actively following the New Seasons development and a senior leader with the UFCW 21 to talk about how to be a good partner in the neighborhood. PCC is hosting two more community meetings at the Garfield Community Center. One is from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, and the other is 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 1.
PCC reports each location provides roughly 100 union jobs and prioritizes recruiting directly from the surrounding neighborhoods it serves. Hardy said the grocer will soon be holding job fairs in the neighborhood.
Plans are to open by July 1, if not sooner, Hardy said, adding PCC is still finalizing terms and details with Lake Union Partners (LUP).
“We knew it was important to bring to the Central District a grocery partner who would respect the community and all that this location represents,” said LUP principal Patrick Foley in the news release. “In our previous experience working with PCC, they have always shown a deep regard for the neighborhoods they enter and serve. We are very happy to have them as the anchor neighborhood store at East Union.”
Part of the challenge for LUP was finding a new tenant at East Union after the space had already been built out for New Seasons.
“New Seasons does a nice job in their stores,” Hardy said, “and we certainly will make some changes, but we found some of the elements we would have brought are already there.”
Among the tweaks and changes PCC will make is expanding the store’s bulk section.
PCC will not fill the entire footprint that New Seasons had planned to at East Union, according to the news release, and has asked LUP to find another retailer to fill the leftover space focused on food and beverage.
The co-op remains committed to opening another location in Madison Valley that has been stalled by the Save Madison Valley group, which argues the mixed-used development the grocery store would occupy is too large and out of scale with the neighborhood.
Deputy Hearing Examiner Barbara Ehrlichman sided with SMV on two matters that were remanded back to developer Velmeir Properties and the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, which is still waiting for the developer to respond to corrections regarding shadow impacts to a nearby P-Patch and updating a drainage report. SMV plans to continue challenging the project once those corrections clear SDCI.
PCC will occupy the ground floor of the six-story apartment building on the City People’s Garden Store site at 2925 E. Madison St.
“We don’t want the neighborhood to think we’re not coming,” Hardy said. “We don’t want anyone to think our plans have changed.”
She said the market has shown that communities can sustain grocery stores with closely sited locations, such as the PCC in Fremont and a recently opened Ballard store. The co-op also benefits from working with a small developer like Velmeir, said Hardy, adding she’s known managing director Geza de Gall for years.
“He knows and likes PCC, and his company knows and likes PCC,” Hardy said, “and we just keep mutually signing up.”