FOLLOWUP: Madison Development moving ahead with ‘possible project’ at PCC site, one year post-purchase

(WSB photo)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

One year after our first report on an early-stage plan for the Admiral site that’s been home to PCC Natural Markets (WSB sponsor) for 27 years, the plan is moving ahead.

That’s according to Madison Development Group, which subsequently bought the site for $5,750,000, as we reported two months after our first story about its future. When we contacted Madison for comment back then, a spokesperson said the company – whose completed West Seattle projects include Spruce and Element 42 – would “begin exploring possible ideas for the site.”

The reason we’re publishing a followup now:

A new “preliminary site plan” outline appeared in the city’s online files this week, the first documentation to turn up there related to 2749 California SW since the filings that led to our original March 2015 report.

The one-line description accompanying the filing: “New 4-story mixed-use building with two levels of parking below grade.” The “proposed new construction outline” appears to cover the footprint of the current PCC building and its parking lot east of the north-south alley that borders its west side; the future of the parking area west of the alley is not clear.

Four-story mixed-use is what’s allowed under current zoning for the land within the “new construction” outline, and Madison spokesperson Natalie Quick confirmed to WSB, “We continue to move forward with a possible project at 2749 California SW, which will utilize existing zoning.” (The site is zoned NC2P40, which as explained here would require street-level commercial development.)

Will PCC be part of it? That hasn’t been decided yet.

Quick said, “The project does not yet have a signed tenant.”

As for PCC – here’s what CEO Cate Hardy (a West Seattle resident) told us this week: “As I shared in March of last year, PCC Natural Markets has every intention of serving West Seattle for many years to come. To that end, we have been in conversations regarding several location options, including with the new owners of our current store site. As soon as we have firmed up our plans, we will share them with our staff, and with shoppers and the West Seattle community.”

No hint at what those “location options” might be. But to be clear, the Madison project is still in a very early stage, not even yet at the application point; the type and size would almost certainly require Design Review, and a detailed general review, so it’s nowhere near the construction phase, and that means PCC shoppers will continue to have access to the current location for many months to come.

31 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Madison Development moving ahead with 'possible project' at PCC site, one year post-purchase"

  • onion March 17, 2016 (1:01 pm)

    As I nibble on my terrific PCC sandwich, “many months to come” does not help my digestion.

  • Foodie March 17, 2016 (1:45 pm)

    It would be upsetting to see our beloved PCC have to relocate.  I hope Madison Development understands that PCC isn’t just a store, it’s a community.

  • MJ March 17, 2016 (2:00 pm)

    I wonder where else it could go given all the development going on and still stay within W Sea?  Are there any current or contemplated projects that could fit the store?

  • Jeanie March 17, 2016 (2:36 pm)

    Why not have a PCC on the street level of the building? Then we can still have our beloved PCC and the developers can rake in the dough with their crappy, overpriced condos. Just remember to give the building a hipster name to attract condo buyers. 

    • newnative March 17, 2016 (3:19 pm)

      PC Condos! 

    • Sevenless March 17, 2016 (4:01 pm)

      Only problem with that is we’d be without any PCC for well over a year while the old building is demolished and the new structure is built.  The other times PCC has successfully placed a store in a new condo/apartment development (Fremont, Green Lake Village), the old store stayed open elsewhere during construction.

  • Smokeycretin9 March 17, 2016 (3:13 pm)

    Welcome to our new Condo Overlords!   We bow to your opulence and grace.

  • anonyme March 17, 2016 (3:56 pm)

    It’s unfortunate that grocery stores are not allowed at the corner of 35th & Roxbury.  PCC would be a welcome and much needed amenity for the southern end of West Seattle.  Arbor Heights has squat in terms of shopping/restaurants, etc.

  • Michael Waldo March 17, 2016 (5:30 pm)

    We need a nice restaurant at Westwood Village. 

  • Eddie March 17, 2016 (6:14 pm)

    I didn’t see the word condo anywhere in the article. The other two projects (spruce and element 42) are apartments. 

  • Trickycoolj March 17, 2016 (7:21 pm)

    I love the new Green Lake PCC! I would love that size store here, there is a much larger selection over there. Just wish it was closer to High Point. 

  • MsD March 17, 2016 (7:58 pm)

    Lived through this in Austin as well.  The developers came in determined to demolish everything that made the neighborhoods/city desirable, and replaced it with corporate/chain retail with expensive condos on top.  

  • Morris March 17, 2016 (8:14 pm)

    This may play out the way the Admiral Safeway shut down for a year before it reopened in the same location.

  • Sue March 17, 2016 (9:45 pm)

    They’re going to have to be very careful of timing if they decide to close for a period of time to open in a new building at the site – because they don’t want to lose their customers to the Whole Foods that’s opening. I don’t recall the timing of when that will be open, but if PCC is closed, and Whole Foods is opened, most people are going to go there, rather than drive to another PCC. Then you have to fight to get your customers back again later. So not ideal.  If there is another option on moving within West Seattle, that would probably be the better choice business-wise.

    • KM March 18, 2016 (7:34 am)

      I agree Sue. Whole Foods has so many more options, and open seafood and butcher counter, more prepared food options, I think that even though PCC has higher standards, WF will attract their shoppers when they open and especially if PCC is closed during a transition, and people don’t want to deal with traffic across the bridge to Columbia City. I plan to use both in WS when Whole Foods opens, we’re lucky to have so much choice here in WS, even if it’s concentrated to certain neighborhoods.

  • WestSeattleFran March 17, 2016 (10:19 pm)

    I agree with anonyme, I would love a grocery BACK on the site of Roxbury and 35th.  I am trying to find out what is planned for that location.  Did the charter school crash and burn?  Far as I know the funding plan is sitting on the governor’s desk.  Fingers crossed, He will veto.  

    • WSB March 17, 2016 (10:49 pm)

      The prospective operator of the charter school at 35th/Roxbury, Summit, announced a while back that given everything that happened, it was delaying its opening until fall 2017. The charter-school-saving bill, meantime, awaits the governor’s decision. But for anyone coming in on this late, the 35th/Roxbury site, once a Safeway, cannot be a supermarket again so long as there is a Safeway nearby.

      • Mike March 18, 2016 (1:15 am)

        @WSB, regarding 35th and Roxbury, usually there are limitations in any real estate transaction. There may be a moratorium (certain amount of years, typically 10 or so), but i doubt whomever purchased the site agreed to a forever contract. That would truly be rare.

  • Morris March 17, 2016 (11:40 pm)

     @SUE – As a long time PCC member and customer, I’ll never shop at Whole Foods.

    • newnative March 18, 2016 (9:17 am)

      Ditto, have had way too many bad experiences with that chain.

       I have to have my Fidalgo Bay French Roast (#1859) !!  The best beans in town!  

  • Don Schei March 18, 2016 (4:24 am)

    The other Madison Development projects are apartments and not condominiums so I am assuming this will be as well.  All the other new development projects in West Seattle are either apartments, townhouses, or live/work lofts.   No new condominiums are being built or planned in West Seattle.  Hopefully, these will not be micro pod apartments with no parking.   Building apartments not condominiums is profitable right now and you do not need to provide parking and if they do, they generally get about $200-250 per month for the privilege.

  • Neighbor March 18, 2016 (7:10 am)

    Keep PCC in west Seattle or very near the same location. We rely on the fresh organic produce that they do best at and all the other items they carry. 

  • pcc lover March 18, 2016 (9:04 am)

    There is a very nice, new PCC in Columbia City — not nearly as convenient, but if we have to wait while they move, that will be our closest one. You should visit!

  • Kat in HP March 18, 2016 (9:19 am)

    Many moons ago, as High Point was trying to find a grocery to place at 35th and Graham, we were told by multiple grocery chains that the Jefferson Square Safeway and Thriftway were just too close. What happened a year or so later? QFC opened ACROSS THE STREET FROM A SAFEWAY!!!! A total slap in the face to our community. Even my beloved TJ’s seemed willing to abandon their “certain number of yards from a freeway/highway” rule when they built in Capitol Hill/Madison Valley.

    So, I invite PCC to take a look at jumping in to the project being considered at 35th and Graham. Major arterial, major residential area, and further away from another grocery store than it currently is from Safeway. (Although, PCC shoppers go there because of what it is, and not because it is the closest grocery store.)

    • WSB March 18, 2016 (9:29 am)

      Kat – Even if the currently proposed mixed-use buildings for 35th/Graham were combined, the space wouldn’t be enough for a grocery store – as noted in our report earlier this week, one is 5K+ sf, the other 4K+ sf.

  • jt March 18, 2016 (10:34 am)

    This PCC location has been a goldmine for the company for years based on it’s revenue per sq. ft. Yet, each time the location/bldg came up for sale PCC declined.  Now, they will be in competition with other retail outlets and grocers for the space in what will likely be a fierce bidding war. 

    This exact scenario happened on upper Queen Anne a few years ago at the former Metropolitan Market site now rented out by Trader Joe’s.  MM was the local favorite and beloved by the community.  But developers asked for top dollar and MM balked.  And the site went to the highest bidder, TJ’s, against the wishes of a lot of vocal community members who wanted the place to stay “local”.  

    The same situation is lining up to be true here, too.  A very profitable retail location.  A community favorite.  And, unfortunately, a local grocer that has no in-house, business savvy real estate development team to guide this deal through.  

    Indeed, it’s PCC’s growth strategy, which could best be defined as non-existent or, at best, glacial, that will likely set the stage for the same thing to happen here as it did to MM then.  Talk on the inside is to NOT go forward and to concentrate limited resources on their new Bothell location as well as their upcoming central office move.  

    In contrast, WFM has had an aggressive expansion plan for 15 new stores up and down the I-5 corridor and another location in WS, especially at the Admiral Junction which has shown that it can support 3 grocers within 3 blocks, would not be out of the question for the global giant as it would solidify market share in WS.

    As Kat has mentioned above, the current plans don’t allow enough sq. ft. for a grocery store to operate.  However, plans can change if the zoning is there.    

    Does PCC, our quaint and local favorite, have the business leadership and public relations machinery to move this project forward in their favor?  Or will they, like MM and Larry’s before them, allow this deal to fall through?     


    • JM March 29, 2016 (9:57 pm)

      If you know so much, why not get involved with PCC and help them out.  Only grocery company in greater Seattle area, that is actually locally owned and is linked to each community, where their 10 stores are located.  Keep supporting Whole Paycheck and see how that works for you in a few years.  Better yet, ask Whole Paycheck about their gluten free products, that were found to be containing gluten products.  Or the recent issue, they had with not even weighing the fresh cut up fruit, in the containers, and charging the correct price. They were caught over charging their customers.  If you like that type of business practice, then keep supporting Whole Paycheck.

  • Seattlite March 18, 2016 (4:36 pm)

     There’s always the Green Lake and Fremont PCCs if one wants to travel.  It’s a shame PCC did not purchase the property and the lot to north when it sold several years ago.  PCC is the best go to store for organic products.  Also, they are more reasonably priced than MM, TJ, TW, WF for organic products.  What a shame. 

  • SGG March 19, 2016 (10:32 am)

    Anyone know if PCC owns any of it’s store property?  I always thought it was very rare for retailers to outright own the real estate.

    Regardless, PCC definitely was asleep at the wheel on this issue.   I’ll likely cash out my 20+ year membership if they pack up and leave.

    • WSB March 19, 2016 (10:45 am)

      Don’t have time to check them all. First one I checked, 7504 Aurora, they own.

      Re: another commenter’s claim that they had chances to buy the site before, I don’t have any way to verify that. I don’t recall this site offered openly in commercial listings in the years I’ve been tracking them, or else I would have reported it. Then again, not everything appears on the open listing market. The 2015 sale, according to county records, is the first time it had changed hands in almost 25 years.

  • JM March 29, 2016 (9:52 pm)

    To set the story straight.  I purchased my membership in the Puget Consumer’s Cooperative in 1983, at the original Green Lake store, 3 blocks west of Aurora Ave N, and I learned it had been in business, since 1953.  I also found out, that PCC is completely linked and owned by our local communities, around the greater Seattle area.  The reasons why I spend my dollars at my PCC store and not at Whole Paycheck are found below.

    1)  Each PCC store is linked directly to a local food bank, which picks up products from the different PCC stores daily, ie: pulled deli items, HBC, day old bagels & scones. 2) When shoppers bring in there own bag, PCC donates $.05 for each bag brought in, to the linked local food bank.   Twice or three times a year, each PCC store raises dollars for the linked food banks, the money raised goes to these local food banks.  PCC also advertised the bagging parties, that are held at the food banks, to package up the bulk items, so the families , that depend on the food bank, can use the products easily. 3) Farmland trust:  PCC started the 501C non-profit Farmland Trust, which purchases farm land, leases the land back to organic farmers and buys the products to sell in the 10 PCC stores.  Nash’s carrots was 1st farm purchased, and Nash is still growing and selling PCC the best tasting carrots in the world. 4) PCC script card program. Any 501C non-profit (many schools and churches depend heavily on this program), can sign up for the PCC scrip program, and for every dollar spent at a PCC store, $.05 goes back to the non-profit.  Some of the non-profits are Farms for life, Qi Gong Institute, Oxbow Farms to name only a few. 

    5) PCC cares about the PCC staff members, that work at the 10 PCC stores.  They may be in the same union as QFC, Fred Meyer, Safeway/Albertsons though PCC has a different union contract and better benefits, than these other grocery companies staff members.  Whole Paycheck is totally anti-union. 

    6) I shop at a PCC, because it cares about the communities it is involved in, about the food products they sell, and about the workers that provide excellent customer service. 


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