West Seattle Trader Joe’s 34 results

West Seattle development updates: Shoremont; Trader Joe’s

Two updates this afternoon on sites from the WSB watch list:

SHOREMONT APARTMENTS: Thanks to Patricia for sending the photo after spotting the land-use sign that went up in the past day or so outside the once-targeted-for-demolition Shoremont (2464 Alki SW). We reported back in December that a Mercer Island investor’s deal to buy it had closed; that purchase followed a period of bank (and even federal) ownership, which in turn followed a proposal 3 years ago to demolish it and put up an ultramodern complex. The new proposal is described on the sign and on the DPD website as adding one unit to each of two three-unit buildings, for eight units total. To find out what exactly that entails, we’ll likely have to check the files downtown (which we had done a few weeks ago, knowing a proposal was in the works, but nothing had been filed yet). The DPD website says a formal comment period will open with this Thursday’s Land Use Information Bulletin.

TRADER JOE’S SITE: It’s been three whole weeks since our last update, so if you’re among those starved for incremental info, here’s the latest bit of news: The DPD officially “accepted the application” last Thursday for the main part of the project to turn the old Huling Brothers Buick showroom site (4545 Fauntleroy Way) into a new Trader Joe’s store (rendering at right). As we had written last month, there had been some back-and-forth about parking on the site and other details, but “application accepted” is one milestone toward the permit being granted. As we noted while reviewing the file last month, TJ’s thinks construction will take about six months, so assuming a permit’s granted before long, the current realistic timetable for opening is probably fall.

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.

West Seattle Trader Joe’s: Comment deadline January 9th

As first reported here last Tuesday, the official city signage is up at the future West Seattle Trader Joe’s site (map), announcing the formal application for city permits. They’re not creating new buildings on the site, as noted in this followup after the original announcement in June, so no public hearing is planned at this point, but a public-comment period is now open. Today’s city Land Use Information Bulletin includes the first two official notices published online, both with comment deadlines set for January 9th: One for 4545 Fauntleroy, including building modifications and part of the parking, and one for 4527 Fauntleroy for the rest of the parking. Both of those links go to city pages that include instructions on how you can comment on the project, which requires an environmental review taking into account an “environmentally critical area” on the site (a steep slope on the north side of the site; a “preliminary assessment” of the site is viewable online here).

West Seattle Trader Joe’s: The sign is up

(WSB photo by Katie Meyer)
If you remained skeptical even after our story last week about the official permit paperwork progressing for the future West Seattle Trader Joe’s – here’s new proof it’s advancing. Property owner Steve Huling called WSB tonight to let us (and you!) know that the official city sign has gone up to tell all interested parties that the site is under environmental review for a land-use permit (as you can see here), and we just procured our own photographic proof. As noted in our earlier coverage, and in the permit applications, they are not demolishing any buildings, so this isn’t expected to be a long construction process; most recent estimated opening date was sometime in the spring. (P.S. As discussed in comments on our previous story, the “environmentally critical area” on the site involves a steep slope. The sign posting opens a comment period for this review of the project; here’s official city info on how to comment.)

West Seattle Trader Joe’s: Permit process picks up

(Rendering provided by Trader Joe’s with the June West Seattle announcement)
Update for those who drive by the future West Seattle Trader Joe’s location (4545 Fauntleroy Way SW) and wonder when you’ll see signs of remodeling activity: There’s finally a bit of motion in that direction. If you have been following the saga, you know that last time we talked to a spokesperson for the property owner, the company told him they were about to officially apply for permits. That didn’t happen quite as immediately as expected, but the online Department of Planning and Development files are finally showing activity – and we know it’s brand-new, not just because of the dates, but because we’ve checked the online files for the site every day since the June announcement, so we know when something has changed. Putting it all together from the outside is a bit like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, but here goes: First, there’s a new, separate land-use permit application file here, with the summary:

Land use application to allow 29 parking stalls for a total of 76 parking stalls in an environmentally critical area. Project includes change of use from automotive sales and service to general retail sales and service (Trader Joe’s), modifications to front façade to create new entry and exit tower, elevator and stairwell.

The “fees and receipts” tab on the same DPD webpage indicates a variety of fees paid just yesterday, including one for the Land Use Information Bulletin, which means an official comment period is likely to open for this shortly, when you see a city informational sign go up at the site. And new contacts have been added, including a Redmond architecture firm, and a corporate contact at TJ’s HQ in Southern California. In addition, that page points to another case number for an additional address on the site – 4527 Fauntleroy Way – with its own set of fees marked as paid today. Meantime, according to the “inspections” tab on this DPD page, a “pre-application site visit” happened last week. We’ve had a request out for corporate comment for a few days, no reply so far, so reading the paperwork tea leaves yields the most information at this point.

West Seattle businesses: 2 updates on Huling-owned properties

EX-REDLINE SITE: Just a month after Redline Music and Sports closed at 4439 35th SW, we got reports of work at the site, and we wondered if perhaps it was related to the development proposal that was reviewed last year. Nothing on the city docket – but perusing the liquor-license applications, we discovered we’d missed something last week: A new establishment seeking the license under the name The Bridge. We’ve got an inquiry out to one of the prospective owners in hopes of finding out more.

FUTURE TRADER JOE’S: At the end of September, we contacted site spokesperson John Wunder of Associates West Real Estate to ask why nothing had happened yet with the plan announced in June to remodel the old Huling Buick showroom at 4545 Fauntleroy Way into a new Trader Joe’s. He in turn checked with Trader Joe’s development department – which has been fairly impenetrable from the media front – and reported back that they expected to apply for a permit “within a month.” Now that the month’s come and gone, and because someone asked us about a rumor of trouble, we checked back with Wunder. He says Trader Joe’s is expecting to file the official application next week: “It’s taking a little longer than we thought, but it’s still going to happen.”

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.

West Seattle Trader Joe’s followup: Design explained; what’s next

New information this morning on West Seattle’s now-confirmed future Trader Joe’s (here’s our Wednesday story): We’ve just spoken with Associates West Real Estate‘s John Wunder, to whom property owner Steve Huling referred us for additional information following our conversation yesterday. One big question we asked him: While the preliminary city filing first noted here in April mentioned only “minor exterior improvements,” some seeing the project rendering above thought it looked like much more than that. No, he says, it really is “minor exterior (work)” – once you see what part of the building is involved:

We just went over to take that photo after Wunder explained that the rendering depicts what’s planned for the east/northeast corner of the building, where there’s currently a service entry to the garage, next to the showroom. “If you look closely at the rendering, you’ll see the same lines, so the entry is going to go right at the point of the building,” Wunder explained. (A wider shot would show Fauntleroy off the left side. Note that this also is kitty-corner to the under-construction Link.) He also said that while, as DPD‘s Bryan Stevens confirmed to WSB yesterday morning, the formal permit application for the 14,000+-square-foot store has not been filed yet, that should happen shortly. Wunder said, “We don’t anticipate problems; the preliminary meeting went well.”

Steve Huling on Trader Joe’s confirmation: “It’s going to be super”

(Future long-awaited West Seattle Trader Joe’s)
We’ve just spoken to Steve Huling, owner of the property that this morning has been confirmed as a new Trader Joe’s – the one we told you in late April was worth watching, after a notation appeared on the city DPD website – and he says he’s finally able to talk about the project, since the company this morning officially confirmed it: “Now that it’s out, I can finally start talking about it! They’re going to create a lot of new activity in the area. I think this is a great deal for the community.” First, here’s the news release from the company:

Trader Joe’s, a unique, neighborhood grocery store with foods and beverages from the exotic to the basic, has signed a lease to open a new West Seattle store located at 4545 Fauntleroy Way SW. The store is scheduled to open in 2011 and is approximately 14,200 square feet in size.

Trader Joe’s was originally named in recognition of its distinct grocery buying process, because they search the world for great values and distinctive products. Crew members (store employees) consider themselves “traders on the culinary seas.” Crewmembers sport brightly colored Hawaiian-themed shirts, adding to the light-hearted air of the store.

Many area residents after the store opens can expect to receive a copy of the Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer” in their mailboxes. The Fearless Flyer is a somewhat irreverent description of a timely selection of Trader Joe’s products. It’s been called a cross between Consumer Reports and Mad Magazine. Each edition highlights a selection of Trader Joe’s products that the company buyers believe are worthy of customer interest, including comfort foods and items that are organic or have other special attributes.

Trader Joe’s carries an extensive array of domestic and imported foods and beverages including fresh baked artisan breads, Arabica bean coffees, international frozen entrées, 100% juices, fresh crop nuts, deli items, and vitamins and supplements, as well as the basics, like milk and eggs – all at honest, low prices.

Trader Joe’s is truly a grocery store unlike any other. Trader Joe’s is a “store of stories,” meaning every item in the store has its own virtues — high quality ingredients, great flavor or simply an extraordinary price — many items often feature all of those qualities. Another significant point of difference, all of Trader Joe’s prices are everyday prices. Trader Joe’s doesn’t have “sales” for a few days, only to hike the prices back up again. Their prices change only when their costs change — there are no fancy promotions, discount cards or couponing wars.

So how does Trader Joe’s offer unique groceries at prices everyone can afford? By offering more than 1000 items under the Trader Joe’s private label, which includes Trader Darwin’s vitamins (For the Survival of the Fittest), Trader José’s salsas, Trader Giotto’s marinara sauces, in addition to specially purchased items.

Also, Trader Joe’s buys differently than other grocers – they purchase from manufacturers, not through distributors. They’ll take a brand name product, take out the preservatives and artificial colors and ingredients, and put it under their Trader Joe’s label to sell it at a real discount.

Trader Joe’s introduces approximately a dozen new items every week, heightening the store’s adventurous appeal. Our buyers travel around the world searching out unique products at great values. In order for an item to be sold in a Trader Joe’s store, it must pass the scrutiny of a discerning tasting panel. Thousands of items are tasted each year to find products that both appeal to the culinary adventurer and microwave aficionado.

Huling tells us it’s been tough to keep quiet until the company confirmed it publicly. He adds, “Since this has been announced, we’re hopeful there’ll be some additional activity in the area – I think this whole area (the Triangle) is getting ready to bust open. It’s nice, it’s a great community, and it’s nice to see all the growth and it sounds like it’s going to be done in a very respectful way.”

As for how soon construction will start – earlier this morning, we had spoken with Bryan Stevens at DPD. The construction permit has not yet been applied for – the “initial information collected” designation that remains on the DPD page means simply that conversations have been had, but no paperwork has been filed. ADDED 5:07 PM: This is the rendering provided by Trader Joe’s.

We spoke with the project architect before seeing it today and hope to speak with him again tomorrow to find out more about exactly where on the lot this is going, since the DPD notation was “minor exterior remodel,” and this would certainly go beyond that.

West Seattle Trader Joe’s rumor watch: Location to keep an eye on

Since “Trader Joe’s” is likely – if we had a way of ranking – the single-most-mentioned phrase here on WSB, we do periodically check out the rumors that come our way, especially if the same “rumor” comes from multiple sources. (Here’s a sample rumor check from 2007!) The latest trail started in the WSB Forums, and our ensuing research has turned up some interesting circumstantial evidence, though nothing definite yet. Read on to see what we’ve found out:Read More

Trader Joe’s rumor watch

The ol’ Trader Joe’s rumor just keeps swishing around WS like a glass of Two-Buck Chuck in a Nisqually-length earthquake. An intrepid reader just e-mailed the company again, hoping perhaps for a pleasant surprise, and shared with us the following response. (Personally, we find the “check back in fall” rather intriguing!)

“At this time, we do not have any confirmed plans for Western Seattle. Feel free to check back sometime this fall for any updates.

Thanks for shopping with us,

Marci

Trader Joe’s Customer Relations”