Wondering what’s up with PCC Community Markets’ West Seattle site?

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

It’s the most-common question in the WSB inbox right now: What’s up with the “PCC project”?

It’s been almost seven months since the May 31st closure of PCC Community Markets‘ (WSB sponsor) West Seattle store, shut down so it could be demolished and replaced by a mixed-use building with a new store and 100+ apartments. But the site remains virtually idle.

(If you need a refresher: PCC doesn’t own the site; it’s a tenant. Madison Development Group bought the site from PCC’s former landlord in 2015 and pursued the redevelopment plan.

Some PCC fans tell us they’ve been shopping at other stores and asking staffers what they know, and hearing various things, so they wanted an official update. So here’s what we can tell you, from checking around and reading documents in city files:

-PCC says it’s still on target for a 2019 West Seattle reopening.

-Two key permits for the project – demolition and excavation – were issued November 8th, according to the city’s online files. But the main construction permit is still making its way through the city system, exactly one year after the official application was filed.

-While the site would be upzoned from 40′ to 55′ under the HALA upzoning proposal that the City Council will consider next year, we asked the project designers, Hewitt, if that was leading to any changes, and principal Julia Nagele replied, “No HALA increases are anticipated for the project. The design team is simply waiting on the City to finish their permit review process.”

-What we don’t know is if there’s a projected start date. The construction-management plan on file says “late 2017,” with a tower crane expected on site in spring 2018. We have messages out to leadership at Madison and will add anything we hear back from them.

-For PCC fans who are looking forward to shopping at its future Burien store (15840 1st Ave. S.), while in the meantime ordering delivery and/or going to other stores like not-too-far Columbia City – a PCC spokesperson tells us the Burien opening is expected in spring.

26 Replies to "Wondering what's up with PCC Community Markets' West Seattle site?"

  • KT December 18, 2017 (4:06 pm)

    “…the main construction permit is still making its way through the city system, exactly one year after the official application was filed…”  Ridiculous.  

  • T December 18, 2017 (4:28 pm)

    Seems like they could have stayed open longer.

    • Jon Wright December 18, 2017 (4:39 pm)

      EXACTLY!!! This is the part that makes me crazy every time I drive past. :-/

      • T December 18, 2017 (6:12 pm)

        Yeah I wonder how much money they could have made, plus the inconvenience to customers.

  • KT December 18, 2017 (4:51 pm)

    A small detail for the author: Are you sure Julia Nagele works at Mithun?  I know her to be a partner at Hewitt.  

    • WSB December 18, 2017 (5:08 pm)

      Sorry, wrong firm, fixing, thank you so much.

  • John December 18, 2017 (4:54 pm)

    Yes, welcome to the Seattle permitting process.  

    One year and PCC has already paid Seattle $75,000 on the not yet complete permit.

    Most folks are naive of the challenges, time delays and costs of permits in Seattle. 

  • Swede. December 18, 2017 (5:30 pm)

    An extra two floors to ad it looks like then. Luckily there isn’t anyone’s view over that location, because that would definitely be gone then. 

    • WSB December 18, 2017 (5:40 pm)

      It would be if they were redesigning but the architect says they are not. They went through Design Review some time back and have a finalized plan. That does give rise to another followup now on my list about what the general plan is for projects in the pipeline if they DO want to take advantage of possible extra height should the upzoning be finalized …

  • TJ December 18, 2017 (7:05 pm)

    I am quite familiar with the permitting process in this region, both commercial and residential, and can tell you Seattle is a nightmare compared to the rest of the region. The time delays are huge, and when forced to redesign something, it goes right back in line again for approval. A structure the size of PCC needs to plan months in advance to get the utilities cut off, and once that is set in motion it is hard to reverse once you get permitting delays from the city. And then there are the costs. I know that for the same exact house I just had built here, it is over TWICE the amount in permit costs as in Spokane. It really is a money grab by the city, and people should be outraged by it. 


    • RandyF December 20, 2017 (7:58 pm)

      The timeline being slow I can understand being maddening. I’m curious to look into what some of the reasons might be. But I’m not sure something costing twice as much here as in Spokane is a strong reason for outrage. There are a great many things that it’s much more expensive to do in Seattle than in Spokane; it’s part of the trade-off of living in such a major city. Are there particular justifications the city has made for the high cost that you find outrageous? Not being familiar with WHY such things would cost more, at first blush the fact that it DOES cost more is not surprising to me.

  • Rob B December 18, 2017 (9:36 pm)

    Thanks for the update! I’ve been wondering about this for months. The pcc is the confirmed tenant right? Or could they back out like Whole Foods did (albeit shortly) at the Whittaker? Just nervous that if construction continues to delay then maybe pcc gets nervous and scouts other sites. 

    • WSB December 18, 2017 (10:05 pm)

      They have been the tenant since the start and the space was designed for them. Before Whole Foods re-committed to The Whittaker, we kept getting questions about “why can’t PCC just take that space?” and PCC’s reply to us was, no, we have a lease for a new space of our own.

  • JCC December 19, 2017 (5:39 am)

    Speaking of Whole Foods….what is the update there? Are they really going in at the Whittaker? 

  • SeattleGov@gmail.com December 19, 2017 (7:21 am)

    Permits costs are high due to lack of local income tax.

    • Canton December 19, 2017 (9:00 am)

      Permit costs are high, because we don’t endorse our entire paychecks over to the city.

  • Mark32 December 19, 2017 (8:22 am)

    If that’s the case, why is it so much easier and less expensive in other parts of the state?

  • Judy December 19, 2017 (9:16 am)

    In my experience, communication with PCC management has been much less than ideal.  It’s almost as if they’ve simply written West Seattle off, assuming that we’ll stampede the doors when they finally open.  The last thing I recall hearing (months ago) was a tentative opening for Burien in January.  Now it’s vaguely “spring.”  The grocery business is so highly competitive now that I would think they couldn’t afford to take customers for granted.

    • AQJ December 19, 2017 (1:25 pm)

      I fail to see how building a significantly larger and vastly modernized store location amounts to simply writing off West Seattle. Seems to me that’s a massive commitment to the area, as opposed to other grocery stores that put in a pizza oven and a hot food bar and call it a remodel.

      The PCC website says the Burien location will open in “early 2018.” That’s the same timeframe they gave when they announced the new store last spring. 

      • WSB December 19, 2017 (1:28 pm)

        The website has not been updated, apparently, to reflect “spring,” which, as quoted in the story, is what the company spokesperson told me this week – I asked her about both the West Seattle project and the Burien opening date. – TR

  • CMP December 19, 2017 (1:29 pm)

    Madison Development Group is being sued by Mattress Firm so that could be adding to the delays…but I’m sure permitting is the primary contributor, as others have mentioned.

  • Jaylaw December 20, 2017 (7:59 am)

    So to surmise, PCC closed their store nearly a year early in order to work their way through the outrageously offensive, money-grubbing Seattle permitting process that they clearly knew about?  This isn’t their first redevelopment in Seattle after all!

    In the meantime all of their customers have migrated to the Metropolitan Market or the Thriftway Market and some are in eager anticipation of the opening of Whole Foods at the Whittaker.  Gotcha.  

    They will be closed nearly 2 years before reopening and expect to get all of their old customers back?  Either a brilliant marketing ploy (like the New/Old Coke “controversy” in the 80s) or idiotic in the super competitive grocery business that seems to be gradually taken over by that Seattle-based eCommerce behemoth.  

    My money says this never opens regardless of what they say regarding a PCC lease.

     As I posted earlier this year when many were bemoaning about a lack of grocery stores in West Seattle, we have 8 markets between Roxbury and Admiral (3 Safeway’s, 2 QFC, Met, TJ, Thriftway) with WF coming  

    Won’t be surprised in the least to eventually hear PCC pulls out and then you have 40 new “Work\Lofts” on that site just like down the street where the old Charleston Restaurant used to be.  Or, wait for it…100 Micro-housing units.  Be prepared for another “hole foods” type scenario where this lot remains vacant for years!

    • WSB December 20, 2017 (9:10 am)

      No, that’s an inaccurate summary. We explain this in every story but I guess we need to explain this again: While people know this as the PCC project, PCC is NOT the developer nor the builder nor even the site owner. They were a tenant at the site before closing, and they will be a tenant in the new site. When the site ownership changed, it wasn’t even a done deal that PCC would be the, or a, commercial tenant, when we first reported that (a) a redevelopment project at the site was in the works and then (b) that Madison Development Group had bought the site. And regarding the “hole” suspicion, it should be noted that Madison is the company that bought that Junction site after it had sat idle for years under previous ownership and actually finished and opened the project (now known as Spruce). – TR

    • Dustin January 8, 2018 (12:22 pm)
      > As I posted earlier this year when many were bemoaning about a lack of grocery stores in West Seattle, we have 8 markets between Roxbury and Admiral (3 Safeway’s, 2 QFC, Met, TJ, Thriftway) with WF coming  
      8 supermarkets isn’t a lot when you consider that West Seattle is huge, with an area of 16.34 square miles. For comparison, consider that in Manhattan, which is just under 23 square miles, there were 1,205 grocery store establishments (granted, not all supermarkets) in the year 2008. If West Seattle continues to grow in population density, it’s likely the area will continue to require new markets, and that these markets will continue to appear clustered in the areas zoned for commercial use.
  • Jaylaw December 22, 2017 (8:26 pm)

    Apologies TR, maybe I wasn’t clear.  

    When I said, “this isn’t their first redevelopment in Seattle…” I meant Madison, not PCC.    It’s clearly not Madison’s first redevelopment project in Seattle so I would have to assume they knew the ins and outs of the Seattle permitting process backwards and forwards and still had PCC close nearly a year early.   It’s an interesting development to say the least…pun intended!

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