West Seattle Trader Joe’s progress report, since you asked

With six weeks having gone by since our last progress report on the West Seattle Trader Joe’s, we weren’t surprised to see questions come up in the comment thread on this past Monday’s Triangle open house. Then, just as we got ready to start on an update, two people e-mailed to say the Burien Trader Joe’s staff — long a source of West Seattle rumors, it seems – had told West Seattle shoppers that the project was allegedly having permit problems. Keep in mind, the formal permit application was made just two months ago, and these things seldom move swiftly through the city pipeline. But to get a better idea of where it’s at, we did two things: 1. Went downtown to the Department of Planning and Development to look into the application file. 2. Talked to John Wunder, who represents properties (including this one at 4545 Fauntleroy Way) owned by Steve Huling and family (the site was the longtime Huling Brothers Buick showroom). Here’s what we found out:

THE FILE: The documents we reviewed at DPD HQ at noontime yesterday appear relatively routine. The newest one-sheet, from the land-use review, was dated February 1st. Most of the back-and-forth has to do with parking for the store, some of which will be on the building’s rooftop parking area, some of which will be on the ground-level lot. According to the documents, some of the parking was in conflict with a strip that’s on the record as an alley, so the city asked that parking proposed for that “alley” area be removed. The city asked for a traffic study and more information on where the “loading berth” will be. A few data points of interest are also in the application – it’s expected the project will generate 1,365 daily vehicle trips. The exterior modifications (architect rendering at right) will bring the height to 39’9″ in at least one spot, a few feet higher than it is now. It appears that only one comment was received during the recent open-comment period for the project’s environmental review; a North Seattle woman wrote that she felt the project would have an environmental impact, and hoped that trees would be included. (The proposal does call for adding “landscaping islands” that are projected to reduce the amount of “impervious” surface on the site.)

THE PROPERTY REP: John Wunder says he’s checked with key players on the project, and there’s really nothing to say other than, it’s proceeding. They hope to finish the permit process this spring.

The documents on file with the city project a 175-day construction schedule – that’s just under six months – so you could certainly conclude the store is not likely to be open before late summer/early fall. (The original TJ’s announcement last June promised only “2011.”) According to the documents, Trader Joe’s would seek to “commence construction immediately” once the permits are granted. The file also notes that “50 to 75 employees” are expected to work at the store.

46 Replies to "West Seattle Trader Joe's progress report, since you asked"

  • Ed February 10, 2011 (3:30 pm)

    Amazing….a lady from North Seattle is concerned about the impact, without any knowledge of the situation, I am sure.
    This is why it takes so long and costs so much to get anything done in the city.
    She probably already has a Trader Joe’s. ;)

  • April February 10, 2011 (3:42 pm)

    I am so excited about this! Once this happens, and the new Safeway is complete, we can do all our grocery shopping in West Seattle! Wooo hooo! We buy most of our organic products at TJ’s – great quality products & great prices! And then there’s all the lovely wine! Yippee!

  • Lindsey February 10, 2011 (3:49 pm)

    I am definitely excited about TJ’s coming to West Seattle, but a little concerned about the amount of traffic it will generate on the split section of 38th. I’m VERY excited about the 50-75 jobs this will bring to West Seattle!

  • LAintheJunction February 10, 2011 (4:18 pm)

    Build it and they will come.

  • NotMe February 10, 2011 (4:56 pm)

    Huh? 50 – 75 new jobs in West Seattle? For one TJ’s? How did you come up with that figure?

  • Alki Area February 10, 2011 (4:56 pm)

    STOP fusing over an unused alley NO ONE even know exists and the scrub brush and dead plants on that car lot…and LET THEM start a business. Bloody hell, it’s not a forest preserve, it’s a paved car lot. We have an empty useless lot right now and a business that WANTS to move in and employee 50+ people in a rough economy…LET THEM! Stop paper working everyone to death for non-sense. It’s not like they’re wanting to turn this from a garden to a toxic waste dump. It was a CAR sales/service area (note the garage area) which will now be a grocery store…just rubber stamp the dang thing and move on. If it was DRASTICALLY more industrial or changing the height/layout more than 1%, fine nit pick it, but it’s not. Move on!

  • traveler February 10, 2011 (5:06 pm)

    Alki Area – Right on!

  • Eric February 10, 2011 (5:07 pm)

    I’m guessing she got the 50-75 number came from the part in the article where it said 50-75 people will work there :)

  • dr February 10, 2011 (5:23 pm)

    Not to be a grump, but if i have to hear someone preach about “organic” food that gets shipped halfway across the globe I’ll…

    Well I don’t know, but get a clue! What does organic mean? A living organism. Okay, so tell me what produce is not organic. I care about what I eat as much (probably a lot more) as the next guy. Educate yourself on what matters and quit focusing on the marketing buzz words. Jeeeeeeeeze.

  • JayDee February 10, 2011 (5:37 pm)

    Yesterday, between appointments, I stopped into the Burien TJs to pick some groceries. Upon checking out, the clerk asked me for my zip code…Is corporate getting cold feet? Maybe they are re-evaluating the impact to the Burien store sales if we desert them for the new store?

  • Mike February 10, 2011 (5:37 pm)

    When I worked at a Larrys Market, we had over 10 baggers alone, 50-75 at TJ seems accurate.

  • yo February 10, 2011 (5:50 pm)

    I’m sure the permitting process will be fine and TJ’s will open up sometime mid-fall. For those of you that complain about the permoitting process, just think what the city would be like with a more minimal approach. For me, I think of driving around the DFW metroplex on the interstate…random businesses and building types spaced at large distances apart….a ten story building, next to a McD’s, next to a car repair shop, next to a toysrus, next to a carpet wholesaler, next to an Applebee’s–all of which are spaced a nominal quarter-mile apart with only pavement and praire btwn buildings.

  • Alki Area February 10, 2011 (5:52 pm)


    I totally agree. But “organic” just means grown without pesticides. I agree “locally produced” is good TOO. That’s why farmers markets are so great. But at least TJ is “more” organic than say (insert chain grocery here). Not perfect, not ideal, but a little better.

  • Ann February 10, 2011 (6:19 pm)

    I always give my brother’s Zip code — Puyallup doesn’t have a TJ’s and I’m sure residents in the yuppier areas of South Hill would gladly support one.

  • cakeordeath February 10, 2011 (7:52 pm)

    WSB you are the shiznit. I am all hot and bothered now. Thanks for the rendering. ;)

  • Bob Loblaw February 10, 2011 (7:57 pm)

    I wonder if there’s room to store a fire truck on the property.

  • Cheryl February 10, 2011 (8:51 pm)

    I’m with @AlkiArea – Get on with it already!

  • lenguamor February 10, 2011 (8:57 pm)

    Right on, Alki Area; someone from North Seattle gets to fuss about ***damn trees on a commercial space, and it impacts the project’s progress?! Here’s a business willing and ready to put as many as 75 people to work in an area that needs it, and they’re quibbling over trees and an alley. Brilliant.

  • Paul February 10, 2011 (9:05 pm)

    I always give my aunt’s Arkansas zip code when retailers ask me for one….

  • NotMe February 10, 2011 (9:59 pm)

    Lol… I know, Eric. I was asking the author.
    So… this will be cool. Upwards of, ahem, 75 jobs that pay what? Under $9.00 per hour, with little to no benefits, because most of those jobs will be part-time. Yeah, that’s what the area needed. Look, I don’t mean to sound like Debbie Downer, but this isn’t exactly helping the local economy. So, let’s not try to paint a picture of this chain saving our neighborhood.

  • Leslie February 10, 2011 (10:28 pm)

    Bob loblaw -LOL

  • CurlyQ February 10, 2011 (10:39 pm)

    Yo, you just described Anchorage. For those of you fussing about the permitting process,I suggest you tour a city that doesn’t give a darn about zoning or urban aesthetics or traffic flow or environmental impacts. It’s not pretty. Also, hats off to the city zoning dep’t. for moving things along–I understand they (like many city offices) have had drastic cuts in personnel which has significantly slowed down the construction permitting process in our fair city. Bring on TJ’s!

  • geroge February 10, 2011 (11:39 pm)

    West Seattle is the new Ballard.

  • Kameron C Cayce II February 11, 2011 (1:12 am)

    JayDee… TJ has ALWAYS asked for zip codes! Or is supposed to anyhow! That is how they decide where they are going to open new stores…

  • sayitaintso February 11, 2011 (5:59 am)

    SOMEONE FINALLY SAID IT RIGHT-BRAVO TO “ALKI AREA”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • RJB February 11, 2011 (6:47 am)


  • WSJeep February 11, 2011 (7:06 am)

    I think its time for the safeway in Jefferson Square to re-think their lay out or maybe just a semi update.

  • Cheryl Phelps February 11, 2011 (9:03 am)

    I would be much more excited about a grocery store in the Highpoint neighborhood, within walking distance from all the new housing!

  • RHB February 11, 2011 (12:50 pm)

    NotMe –

    Actually Trader Joes pays very well and will provide 50 people with jobs paying well above the national average.

    See this quote from “Inside the secret world of Trader Joes” published by Fortune magazine-

    “You can’t buy engagement from employees, but the pay at Trader Joe’s helps. Store managers, “captains” in Trader Joe’s parlance — the nautical titles are a holdover from Coulombe (newly promoted captains are commanders; assistant store managers are first mates) — can make in the low six figures, and full-time crew members can start in the $40,000 to $60,000 range. But on top of the pay, Trader Joe’s annually contributes 15.4% of employees’ gross income to tax-deferred retirement accounts.”

    For the rest of the article – http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/20/news/companies/inside_trader_joes_full_version.fortune/index.htm

    Personally, I am counting down until I no longer have to trek to Burien for well priced groceries!

  • Grace February 11, 2011 (1:05 pm)

    NotMe- CNN Money did an article in August called Inside the secret world of Trader Joe’s, where they said cashier’s make between $40,000-$60,000/year plus benefits and stocks. -That might be inflated as they were mostly talking about a store in NY, but I think they are more than fair to their employees for compensation, why else would they all be so happy to be at work? And, I think that’s a great employer to welcome to our neighborhood.

    On another note, the last time I was at the store in Burien, I got the impression theey’re getting a little tired of all of us asking about the progress. -They probably know about as much as we do (Thanks to the WS Blog :)

  • sun*e February 11, 2011 (1:39 pm)

    I don’t know how long Alki Lumber (shouldn’t it be located down on Alki?) has been there but it’s a terrible eye sore and so unappealing when entering our fair West Seattle. Obviously “zoning or urban aesthetics or traffic flow or environmental impact” to quote CurlyQ, wasn’t a conern when it was allowed to be built. Trader Joe’s would be a much more welcome site to see upon entry to West Seattle than an empty building and the ugliness of Alki Lumber! It’s lumber store for crying out loud so if it must be there then build a high fence around it or something… PLEASE!

  • dsa February 11, 2011 (3:42 pm)

    I could care less if they come, but it’s better than more condos.

  • MrJT February 11, 2011 (5:56 pm)

    If anyone asks for me a zip code, it’s 90201. Most just mindlessly pound it in… Similar to the attention the ally got before DPD got involved.

  • Marcia February 11, 2011 (6:55 pm)

    Could someone shed some light on whether or not there will be a left-hand turn with a light, on Fauntleroy Way? I hope that something like that will be made, for safety, as that area of Fauntleroy Way, is very busy and could be dangerous for turning left into the store.

  • Sarah February 11, 2011 (9:01 pm)

    Build it! EVERYONE in West Seattle wants a TJs!

    The area is an eyesore, Alki Lumber included. That new building, even if it’s too tall, is the best thing to happen to the blight of that neighborhood. The entry into WS is a sad one. It really needs something, at the least TJs, to alleviate the holes and blank asphalt areas that have come to be our welcome zone.


  • sun*e February 11, 2011 (11:51 pm)

    Apparently my opinion about Alki Lumber is shared and this rant has been going on for quite some time…

    “Alki Lumber goes down as the worst maintained business in the Triangle area. Really, if you’re in the construction business couldn’t you fence in the blight, paint your buildings and consistently remove the garbage and wood pallets so people can walk down the sidewalk past your business?”
    Posted 2 years ago

    “I agree with wsgolfer about the poor appearance of the Alki Lumber site. While it may be for contractors primarily, it has a front and center location for greeting all newcomers to West Seattle.

    A new business of that nature could not get away with the exposed lumber and lack of landscaping, etc. Alki Lumber has been in that location for decades and it seems that if they were inclined to clean up their business, they would have done so long ago.

    While I am certain they are grandfathered into the lack of restrictions as to the look of the property, a sense of respect for the surrounding businesses and residences should surely motivate them to provide decent fencing and shields around the unattractive side of their business.

    I have only visited there once even though I live nearby. It was so jumbled up and they obviously were targeting contractors. I have not returned.”
    Posted 2 years ago
    …enough said!

  • will o\' wisp February 12, 2011 (9:20 am)

    The history of Alki Lumber would be interesting. I think it was originally at Alki. Herr Lumber use to be on Harbour Ave but sold out to the city. Alki Lumber will probably sell the land is just too valuable. It will take a few years before other properties are built. It is the last close place the build-it-yourself guy can get stuff. We are also without a close autoparts store. No more low rent land. Doesn’t look like it will get any better for us old fuddy duddies.

    • WSB February 12, 2011 (9:56 am)

      If you followed the ongoing Triangle planning process, Alki Lumber is one of the more-industrial-type businesses in the Triangle that has no intention of going anywhere. Also, they’ve gone through some changes in the past year or so, including more prominently showcasing a hardware business that is co-located – so if you haven’t been there in longer than that, you might consider checking it out. This is why we bang the drum so loudly for the community meetings related to projects like Triangle planning – if you really care, it’s a great way to actually hear firsthand what’s being discussed, and to even meet/see some of the people involved. The Alki Lumber ownership is also the same family (Sweeney) that is involved with the purchase and renovation plans for the SW Alaska motel, for example … https://westseattleblog.com/2010/12/followup-new-details-on-west-seattle-motels-renovation-plan
      It’s all a very complex picture and I hope that we will be able to do a better job telling the story as time evolves, but I did want to point out that there’s more there than meets the eye … TR

  • sun*e February 12, 2011 (11:12 am)

    I suppose it’s as the saying goes – you can’t judge a book by its’ cover… right? I must admit I’ve never been in there and I’ve read mixed reviews. I just TRULY believe that everyone who must drive by it everyday would really appreciate it if they made an effort to spruce up the joint. They obviously have the materials to make some improvements. They could come up with a plan and post a request at their store for volunteers to help with the project. Who knows if that would work but it’s definitely worth a try.

  • Terry February 12, 2011 (1:59 pm)

    sometimes I don’t buy organic, use plastic bags and drive 36 MPH down Admiral hill.

  • JN February 12, 2011 (7:08 pm)

    I am totally in support with the city’s decision to continually strive to examine all proposed new buildings in terms of appearance and environmental impact. This isn’t Dubai or something where you can build whatever the hell you want, as long as it’s really big and tall!!

  • Lori. February 14, 2011 (12:27 am)

    ALKI LUMBER is so unsightly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is the problem with so much of West Seattle- nothing fits where it should be. Alki Lumber may be a good business but they need to fix that place up!!! It is so tacky lookin right there on the main road into West Seattle. Just build a nice stone wall around it with nice sinage……DONE!!! Now, getting back to TJ’s.. build the dang thang and shut up.

  • Kathy February 14, 2011 (2:28 pm)

    Alki Lumber is not unsightly. It has a vintage business look and has a much better lumber selection compared with a Home Depot or a Lowes. Thank goodness we don’t have either of those blights in that location. The staff at Alki Lunber have always appeared to be very knowledgeable and helpful to this not-so-handywoman. Yuppified? NOT. It offers a refreshing contrast in West Seattle as it becomes increasingly gentrified and homogenized.

  • misc February 14, 2011 (7:00 pm)

    @Terry … LOL

  • Lori. February 15, 2011 (4:36 am)

    @ Kathy: “A vintage business look?” I really can’t argue that Kathy, but that’s the whole point!!! It LOOKS really bad!!! Who said anything about homofi-ing anything…The staff and business part of it isn’t really the problem (other than they are unaware of how ugly it is) A nice wall of some sort with pretty landscaping would make it much nicer. It can still be the same old
    Alki Lumber on the inside.

  • Petunia February 15, 2011 (9:00 pm)

    Who cares what Alki Lumber looks like? It’s a functional business. This isn’t Disneyland.

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