West Seattle Trader Joe’s: Wondering why no construction yet?

(Rendering provided by Trader Joe’s with the June West Seattle announcement)
With three and a half months having elapsed since Trader Joe’s announced it was finally, really, truly coming to West Seattle – but no sign of construction on the site yet – some local TJ’s fans are starting to get nervous. We’ve received several notes in the past few weeks asking if we know why work hasn’t begun. The official online project page on the city Department of Planning and Development site hasn’t changed since shortly after the announcement, and DPD spokesperson Bryan Stevens says Trader Joe’s has not yet turned in the formal application for the building permit – so we talked with the local point person for the project: John Wunder from Associates West, who represents Huling-owned properties around the area, like this one. He says the project is still progressing, and that his Trader Joe’s contact told him today that they plan to file the official application within a month, to get permission for the remodeling work at the former Huling Buick showroom (as detailed in our post-announcement followup in June). According to Wunder, Trader Joe’s currently expects to be open here in “late spring of next year.”

SIDE NOTE: While talking with Wunder, we asked him about a rumor that Whole Foods – which as reported here in July has formally dropped out of the idled-and-court-knotted Fauntleroy Place project across the street – had reportedly signed a letter of intent for another Huling site. He says that is NOT true. He acknowledges they’ve spoken with Whole Foods, but suspects they’re far from the only local landowners/property managers who have done so.

29 Replies to "West Seattle Trader Joe's: Wondering why no construction yet?"

  • celeste17 September 30, 2010 (2:26 pm)

    Can’t wait for TJ’s. There meat is always so tender and fresh. Love their dried fruit and nuts sections. Good pricing on a lot of things that I buy for the house.

    Mom loves there french vanilla yogart.

    Can wait on the whole foods. I have only been in there store twice and felt like I didn’t belong. I see the chef programs usually use them to shop in or pick an unsuspecting customer to go home with to cook for them.

  • JanS September 30, 2010 (2:26 pm)

    have been thinking about this myself – thanks for the update, TR :)

  • Baba September 30, 2010 (2:30 pm)

    I have a feeling that Trader Joe’s is waiting for the November elections outcome… Who can blame them? Heck, I’m waiting too…

  • JBL September 30, 2010 (3:01 pm)

    If WF signs a deal with a Hueling Bros site after leaving us with that hole…..(boycott) all I’m saying is that they better not do that to West Seattle.

  • Kim September 30, 2010 (3:08 pm)

    JBL – Whole Foods didn’t leave the hole. The apartment/building developer Blue Star left the hole.

  • Alki Area September 30, 2010 (3:27 pm)

    Exactly, Whole Foods was just a large anchor “tenant” in that new complex. There were other retail folks and an entire apartment complex, remember? Whole Foods got as screwed as everyone else on that deal.

    So Whole Foods as I said before should just move across the street to the other huge empty car lot. Just build a nice moderate sized surface store like the new one on Interbay. No huge pit…no crazy mega development. Just a nice store, which would greatly improve the look of that abandoned corner.

  • Diane September 30, 2010 (3:31 pm)

    So glad others have been bugging you; probably at least 100x more of us who really want to know
    oh good that it’s still on
    oh darn that I still have to drive/trip plan to Queen Anne, Burien, Madison, Ballard, Roosevelt, for my favorite food stuffs for another 9 mos

  • Diane September 30, 2010 (3:37 pm)

    from the many stories TR has written about the Whole Foods saga, my memory is that Blue Star also got “screwed”, not paid; part of huge pile of lawsuits
    point of interest, many of the big box stores (Target, Walmart, ToysRus) are moving into Trader Joe’s type small store format; I’ve read many business journal articles past couple weeks about hundreds of these small stores opening, so would not be surprised if Whole Foods followed suit; I think this is one of biggest reasons for TJ’s success; they started with this model and stuck with it all the way through the era of big box; now everyone else wants to copy them

  • Baba September 30, 2010 (3:46 pm)

    Trader Joe’s plus Whole Foods with the exicting QFC and Safeway 300 feet up, ain’t gonna happen. What do you think West Seattle is?

  • Ken September 30, 2010 (3:49 pm)

    We don’t need a Whole Foods… they’re too expensive, and the stuff they sell can be found at other stores in West Seattle, such as PCC and Metropolitan Market, which are local companies rather than large chains headquartered elsewhere.

    QFC and Safeway also have a decent selection of healthy/organic food these days. Add in the new Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods is redundant, IMHO.

  • coffee September 30, 2010 (4:29 pm)

    Well, if DPD is involved, add another year to the process. That place is riddled with problems. And really, it can take years in my opinion. NOT a fan of TJ’s. I am a fan of any business that can open up and provide well needed jobs however.

  • squareeyes September 30, 2010 (4:34 pm)

    No no no to Whole Foods, I want BevMo to move into one of the Huling buildings (when 1100 or 1105 passes).

  • Baba September 30, 2010 (4:45 pm)

    There seems to be a huge miscalculation of risk by all these condo/apartment bulders/investors, that food retailers seem to follow( or are they the same people?). I sense that we have a huge “bite more then you can chew” case going on here…

  • Alex September 30, 2010 (5:04 pm)

    Don’t forget that Hole Foods and the developer repeatedly claimed they were still going through with the deal, even after it seemed obvious they had stopped. It takes a long time for companies to admit they have backed out… I’m still skeptical about TJ’s ever happening.

  • Eric September 30, 2010 (6:11 pm)

    My impression was that whole foods probably had to keep saying that until the developer fully missed contractual deadlines. IE, if whole foods backs out first before the developer actually misses deadlines, they’d probably be liable for some amount of money (or at least have to spend more time in court arguing about it).

  • Carson September 30, 2010 (6:16 pm)

    Huge difference between TJ’s and Whole Paycheck. TJ’s is almost never the anchor in a project, and in this case its little more than a remodel as opposed to part of a huge complex. Whole Paycheck also has a history of lying and deceit, just google the CEO, John Mackey, he is a true dirt bag, enough that I would rather shop at Albertsons before Whole Paycheck.

  • JayDee September 30, 2010 (6:36 pm)

    From the list below pick the one that is not like the others:

    New TJs
    Future Whole Paycheck
    Jefferson Square Safeway
    Newish QFC

    Hmmm, survival of the fittest? The only way the JS Safeway will survive is by being lower priced, but TJs can cut into that. If Hole Paycheck doesn’t materilize my money is on a new Safeway on a Huling lot or folding of the JS store–they are keeping JS around because the Admiral one is toast, but once it is gone…My two cents.

  • Baba September 30, 2010 (7:02 pm)

    @JayDee, your idea about moving existing JS Safeway 3 to 5 hundred feet to the Huling lot is…. interesting….My two cents.
    Carson, are you short WFMI then?

  • Ken September 30, 2010 (8:25 pm)

    JayDee, I don’t think TJ is a direct competitor to a full-sized general supermarket like Safeway.

    The TJ in Burien is right next to an Albertson’s, and I don’t think they’re in danger of being put out of business.

  • Noelle September 30, 2010 (11:19 pm)

    Wouldn’t it be neat if Trader Joe’s and the NEW Admiral Safeway Openned around the same time?

    The only way it could be better is if someone put a new market &/or deli down on Alki!

  • Alki Area October 1, 2010 (7:43 am)

    Keep in mind with that “survival of the fittest” list how OLD and nasty the Safeway is going to look in a year. They just tore down the Admiral Safeway just a bit north and are rebuilding it as a much bigger/nicer store (with apts above and some extra retail in an out-building).

    Look I don’t about Whole Foods and would rarely shop there (there are SOME things I’ve only found there). I prefer to shop local (PCC). But I’m happy to see ANY merchant considering building on those vacant eye soar lots….don’t care WHO it is…if you don’t like it, don’t shop there. But trust me, people will.

    P.S. New market deli on Alki? Yeah we had that. The old Alki market was great. It died and they put in this little mini-mart as a deli and upscale market, it didn’t do well and removed all their “deli” parts and is now just a mini-mart selling cigs, pop and beer. Alki isn’t a great retail area…just TOO slow in the winter months. Everyone EVENTUALLY drives through the Alaska or Admiral junctions, but not always the “long way” around Alki.

  • Alki Area October 1, 2010 (7:50 am)

    Speaking of retail that never happened….what happened to the Office Max or Office Depot that was going to go in the floor below the QFC?

    I assume that’s OFFICIALLY dead now? They obviously aren’t waiting for QFC to finish development (it’s been running for months) and there are still ‘for leave’ signs on that lower floor.

  • JayDee October 1, 2010 (12:42 pm)

    I think Safeway’s prices are higher than Albertsons. I shop that Albertsons if I’ve stopped by TJs (I find they have good prices on staples and Hispanic food) but your typical Albertson shopper is not the demographic that shops at TJs.

    So TJs may cut a bit more into the JS Safeway’s (and QFC’s) profits than an Albertsons. I guess time will tell — The newer Safeway’s I’ve been in are pretty nice — enough to exclaim “Is this a Safeway?” And I can hardly wait for my own TJs.

  • Sara October 2, 2010 (7:50 pm)

    Thanks for this, WSB!! I cannot WAIT for Trader Joe’s to open. I will be one happy girl.

  • SA October 6, 2010 (1:39 pm)

    the problem with the old market at Alki was not that it was a bad location. It was a good location for a reasonable little grocery store with normal prices and that even carried generic brands. That is not the model for grocery stores currently investing in the Seattle area. The Alki Market was a tragedy of greed and the new store that replaced the old was totally unaffordable and hence went out of business. Change for the sake of change is not always a positive thing. In the end it is the community that suffers, not the investor.

    We are now stuck with stores that resemble Metro Market as being the norm in this market. Everything has to be overpriced so that we can have a more sophisticated experience. Go to a grocery store somewhere like Kent sometime and you will find it refreshing to have a normally priced experience.

  • Petunia October 7, 2010 (8:43 am)

    I don’t think Alki Market was a victim of ‘greed’ rather competition. A small independent market can’t compete with the buying power of a Safeway or QFC. As a business person I find it annoying when posters blame and label businesses negatively when there is often a person with a shattered dream behind a failed endeavor. If people want small and local businesses to be around we have to shop there and maybe pay a bit more. Can’t have it both ways.

  • JC October 8, 2010 (10:08 am)

    Trader Joes will be awesome…but what DID ever happen to that Office Depot below QFC…haven’t seen a story on that in over a year!

  • Rodney October 8, 2010 (2:44 pm)

    Is there an Albertsons in West Seattle???
    Reason I ask is that I see a few comments mentioning people shopping at Albertsons.
    I didn’t think they had any in the city, I know of one way out in Magnolia and one on MI.

    • WSB October 8, 2010 (3:13 pm)

      There’s an Albertson’s in White Center, barely a mile or so south of the West Seattle line, and another one that I *believe* is in Burien city limits – though I may well be wrong, and it too might be in unincorporated area – another couple miles east, not all that far from WS. None in WS proper, though – TR

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