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Third Place Books + Raconteur Officially Open

This weekend marks the official opening of the long-awaited Third Place Books in the former PCC Seward Park location. The bookstore has events planned all weekend with a number of very well-known, local,  and respected authors reading (on Saturday, Seattle’s best-known restauranteur, Tom Douglas, reads at 11…2006 Pulitzer Prize winner, Tim Egan, reads at 1). Here’s the official release:

Located in the former Seward Park PCC, Third Place Seward Park is a general interest bookstore featuring new & used books with a used book buy back counter open seven days a week.  Third Place Seward Park continues the Third Place mission of providing a gathering space for its new community.

Third Place is also proud to present our partner at the new location – Raconteur.  A new restaurant concept brought to you by the owners of Flying Squirrel Pizza.  Raconteur will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week.  Featuring a full coffee bar with locally roasted espresso, a dining room and a full bar, Raconteur aims to be the neighborhood destination, not only for the Seward Park area, but for all of Seattle.  Raconteur’s menu focuses on food from our corner of the world and dishes from around the globe – a truly upscale, international dining experience.

To celebrate our grand opening we have planned a weekend of book signings with a dynamic group of local authors.  Join us to meet your favorite authors and introduce yourself to the beautiful new addition to the Third Place Books family.

The new location, which also shares a space with a new restaurant and bar, Raconteur (which is being run by the folks behind Flying Squirrel) has been getting a lot of hype in the press. Here’s a Seattle Times write-up, another from Seattle Met, and this one from Eater.



New Clues About Third Place Book’s Upcoming Restaurant, Raconteur

third_books_march_2013Ever since it was confirmed that Third Place Books is coming to the former Seward Park PCC site, many have been wondering what restaurant bookstore owner, Ron Sher, will be planning for the space. For those not familiar with Third Place, food is definitely part of the equation. The Ravenna location (also a former PCC) houses the popular Vios (which also has a branch of its Greek cafe on Capitol Hill) and The Pub at Third Place. Further north, the Lake Forest Park bookstore has a mini-food court of sorts with the Honey Bear Bakery, Kitto, and Burney Brotthers BBQ. Additionally, both Third Place Locations have plenty of space to find a spot to spread out, grab a coffee, and study, work, or read.

As reported earlier, the initial permits for the new Seward Park Third Place also include plans for at least one restaurant (it also seems the basement will possibly be used as a pub). Poking around a bit, it appears that the name for the restaurant will be Raconteur. To make things just a bit more interesting, Coury Restaurants seem to be the group behind Racounteur. Who are they? I have no idea…except that they share an address with Genessee’s own Flying Squirrel Pizza.


Crosscut Interview with Ron Sher of Third Place Books

Crosscut’s Valerie Easton has a new interview up with Ron Sher, the owner of Third Place Books. In the interview, Sher comments on the store’s philosophy as well as the plans to convert the soon-to-be former PCC home to Third Place’s newest location (opening in November):

Photo: Crosscut

Photo: Crosscut

Why and when did you start your first bookstore?

It’s been about 15 years now since Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park opened. It is the first bookstore I’ve owned, although I’ve had several as tenants. I felt that locating a new and used bookstore, a coffee shop, and the restaurants and cafes along with other services and amenities would attract customers and enrich a community. I figured if I could bring all these elements together and open simultaneously, it would greatly improve the store’s chance of success.

Why the new/used books model of bookstore?

I like to see books passed on. It’s recycling, and it makes books more affordable. And I think it makes a bookstore even more interesting.

Any more Third Place Books in the works?

We are planning to open a new Third Place Books along with a restaurant at the site of the Seward Park PCC. They’re moving to Columbia City in July, and we hope to open in November.

Read the whole interview here.

More on Seward Park’s Upcoming Third Place Books

Ever since the official news was released yesterday, a number of news outlets have picked up the story of Third Place Books’ plans to move into the soon-to-be former PCC location in Seward Park. From The Stranger’s Paul Constant:


Third Place Books just sent out a press release beginning with the news that “PCC Natural Markets (PCC), the nation’s largest natural foods retail cooperative, has announced the sale of the building and property currently occupied by its Seward Park store to Ron Sher of Third Place Books.” The 7,200 square foot building will becomeThird Place’s third Seattle-area bookstore, and it will include a restaurant “and possibly a pub,” with plans to open the new store by the end of 2015. The store will carry a mixture of new and used titles, along the lines of other Third Place stores, and it will also host author and community events.

Over the phone, Robert Sindelar, managing partner at Third Place Books, compares their expectations for the building to their Ravenna location, rather than the much larger Lake Forest Park location. Sindelar says he and Sher have been scouting for a third location for the bookstore for “about a year and a half.” They looked at neighborhoods all over the greater Seattle area, but then in “late spring or early summer,” Sindelar says, “we got a call from PCC. I don’t think they even officially put that property on the market. PCC is concerned about legacy and trying to do the right thing for their neighborhood. They were putting the word out that they were looking for the right new tenant” to take over the property. Sher and Sindelar checked out the building and investigated the neighborhood. They thinksouth Seattle is underserved when it comes to destination bookstores. “As the density rises on the south end, I think people are looking for more and more things they can do in their neighborhood without leaving their neighborhoods,” Sindelar explains.

The bookstore will take up roughly 3500 feet of the space, with the rest turned over to restaurant and event space. Third Place hasn’t nailed down a restaurant partner for the Seward Park location yet, but Sindelar says they’re looking for something similar to their relationship with Vios in Ravenna, with “coffee, full-service breakfast, lunch, and dinner and a pub that’s open in the evenings.” Third Place is looking for a business that fits with the new location. “We know how to do the book thing,” Sindelar says, “and we’re going to get a great neighborhood partner.” Third Place plans to move quickly once PCC’s move to Columbia City, which is currently expected to happen in midsummer, is complete. If everything goes according to plan, Sindelar says, the store will be open at this time next year. Sindelar sounds excited about the chance to get to know the neighborhood; he says he attended the 104th annual meeting at the Lakewood Seward Park Community Club last night, which was “a really cool eclectic mix of people from the neighborhood,” and the meeting started to give him a sense of the diverse community the bookstore will serve.

This news is a testament to Seattle’s dedication to literary culture. As the last remaining national big box book chain is struggling to retain its relevancy, and as cities across the country lose bookstores, Seattle continues to buck the national trend and add large independent booksellers. This is great news.

The announcement was also picked up by the Puget Sound Business Journal‘s Marc Stiles:

Seattle’s Seward Park area apparently won’t be without a neighborhood gathering spot for long when PCC moves next summer because a Third Place Books will replace the natural foods market.

Third Place Books owner Ron Sher and PCC Acting CEO Randy Lee on Thursday announced the sale of the Seward Park PCC property at 5041 Wilson Ave. S., where the market has operated since 1985. The sale price was not released and the sale has not yet recorded in public records.

Sher plans to operate a book store, restaurant and possibly a pub on the property by the end of next year. The Third Place Books will be similar to the one that the company developed at a former PCC location in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood.

Sher has a knack for brick-and-mortar success in an era of increasing online shopping. He succeeds, in part, by hosting numerous events, from French conversation gatherings to t’ai chi classes and readings by authors at his stores. There’s one in Lake Forest Park as well as Ravenna.

In a press release, he said that he understands that Seward Park residents are reluctant to lose the PCC, and added that he’s committed to creating a new “neighborhood asset” by the end of 2015.

King County had not posted the closing of the sale of the nearly 7,000-square-foot PCC building, and Third Place representatives were not immediately available.

PCC, a 10-store, organic retail cooperative with annual sales of more than $200 million, is moving to a new 25,000-square-foot store in Columbia City, about a mile from the Seward Park location. The PCC will be the retail anchor of a large mixed-use apartment project called the Angeline.

PCC said they had tried to stay at the Seward Park location but could not upgrade the building to meet the growing demand.

Want another one? Here’s The Seattle Times saying essentially the same as the two stories above.

Third Place Books Coming to Seward Park PCC Location

After a few months of rumors, speculation, and hints, here’s the official release from PCC about the sale:


PCC Natural Markets announces sale of Seward Park PCC property to Ron Sher of Third Place Books

(Seattle, Wash., December 11, 2014) – PCC Natural Markets (PCC), the nation’s largest natural foods retail cooperative, has announced the sale of the building and property currently occupied by its Seward Park store to Ron Sher of Third Place Books. The sale precedes PCC’s move from the property to a larger site in the nearby Columbia City neighborhood in summer 2015.

Sher is purchasing the Seward Park land and 7,200 sq. ft. building, located at 5041 Wilson Avenue South in Seattle, with the intention of operating a book store, restaurant, and possibly a pub, similar to the project the company developed at the former PCC location in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood.

“PCC is delighted to have reached an agreement with a trusted developer that assures the offering of a new gathering place for Seward Park neighbors and visitors,” said Randy Lee, PCC’s Acting CEO. “Having a community-oriented successor at our property was extremely important to us, and based on our prior experience in working with Third Place Books, we are hopeful that the property’s new purpose will be welcomed by the local community.”

“We appreciate that Seward Park residents are reluctant to lose the Seward Park PCC which has served them well since 1985,” said Ron Sher, owner of Third Place Books. “We are committed to creating a new neighborhood asset and are moving towards opening the Seward Park Third Place Books by year-end 2015.

For many years PCC had tried to remain in its current location but was unable to upgrade the existing building and parking in a way that would adequately meet growing demand. In January 2013, PCC announced it would move from the Seward Park neighborhood to a new 25,000 sq. ft. site in Columbia City, about one mile from the current store. The new store will enable PCC to offer shoppers more product choices as well as triple available parking.

About PCC Natural Markets: Headquartered in Seattle, Wash., PCC Natural Markets is a certified organic retail cooperative with annual sales of more than $200 million and an active membership of more than 52,000 households. PCC operates ten neighborhood locations; nine in King County including Fremont, Greenlake Aurora, Greenlake Village, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond, Seward Park, View Ridge and West Seattle, and its Edmonds store in South Snohomish County.

About Third Place Books: Founded in 1998 in Lake Forest Park Wash. and in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle in 2002, Third Place Books is a general interest bookstore. It is a fun and comfortable place to browse, linger, lounge, relax, read, eat, laugh, play, talk, listen, and just watch the world go by.

Media contacts

Diana Chapman
PCC Natural Markets
206-547-1222, ext. 106
206-390-6657 (cell)

Seattle Times on Seward Park’s New 3rd Place Books

Robert Sindelar, managing partner of Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, is overseeing construction of Third Place's new bookstore in Seward Park, Mon., Feb. 8, 2016, in Seattle.

Robert Sindelar, managing partner of Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, is overseeing construction of Third Place’s new bookstore in Seward Park, Mon., Feb. 8, 2016, in Seattle. Photo: Ken Lambert, Seattle Times

The Seattle Times has a new piece by Mary Ann Gwinn on the new Third Place Books coming to Seward Park. The piece outlines the details for the store , provides new info about the food offerings (restaurant, coffee, and a downstairs bar), and even has a number of photos of the construction and the extensive work being done to remodel the former PCC. According to the article, Third Place is hoping to open in April.

Below’s an excerpt, the full piece can be read here:

For months now the Seward Park/Columbia City neighborhood has buzzed with the question — when will the new Third Place Books-Seward Park bookstore open? In search of answers, I went to the new location at 5401 Wilson Ave. S. to take a look.

Robert Sindelar, managing partner at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, met me there and gave me a quick tour. We had a hard time making ourselves heard above the buzz of saws and the pounding of hammers, but never mind — it’s looking good, and could open its doors in April.

This store, taking shape inside the shell of the former Puget Consumers Co-op building in Seward Park, will be the third in the Third Place Books chain.

Owned by business visionary Ron Sher, the existing two stores, Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park and Third Place Books in Ravenna, showcase Sher’s concept that the best bookstores combine good business and good community building. Not just a bookstore, but a place to get coffee, work, socialize, gather, eat and last but not least, discuss and browse books — a sort of community commons, a meeting and gathering place for multiple age levels.

This concept has ensured success for the first two stores. The Seward Park store will be all that and then some, because the store’s managers and owners are creating an all-new store inside the old PCC.

The store’s 7,000 square feet will feature an espresso bar, a full restaurant called Raconteur (breakfast, lunch and dinner), a full bar downstairs, an event/reading space capable of accommodating up to 100 people, and books. Sindelar estimates it will stock 15,000 to 20,000 titles and 50,000 units (individual books). There will be a separate children’s department.

As with the other stores, the stock will consist of both used and new books — approximately 50 percent new, 50 percent used.

The renovation budget is about $1.4 million, Sindelar said.

The store’s most distinctive architectural feature is its arched roof, uncovered when the renovators knocked down the dropped ceiling and found both the ceiling and the original wood trusses. Now the interior ceiling is clad in beautiful overlapping wood, like a warm wood floor. Skylights let the light in.

Sindelar and Sher had scouted locations in the South End and in West Seattle (disappointed groan from this West Seattleite). Then they learned that the PCC was planning to move from its Wilson Avenue location to Columbia City.

 The co-op wanted a good price for the building (it was purchased from the co-op for $1.25 million, according to county property records), “but they were equally concerned with being a good neighbor,” Sindelar says, passing the property on to someone who would enhance the neighborhood.

Ka-ching. The Ravenna store is in a former PCC location, and that building was purchased from the co-op. Feelings were cordial between both parties.

From a traffic standpoint, the neighborhood already knew the location, and how to find the parking lot (yes! Parking!!!).

The restaurant will be run by Bill Coury and Brian Vescovi, owners of Flying Squirrel Pizza in Seward Park, Maple Leaf and Georgetown. In an email, Couri wrote that the restaurant will feature “upscale pub food with a global flair. … The bar downstairs will have 20 beers on tap with 6 dedicated German beers, private dining rooms, and plenty of flat screens to catch your favorite game.”…

Rumor: 3rd Place Books or Restaurant/Pub Coming to Seward Park PCC Site

A member of the CC Facebook group recently posted the news that the Seward Park PCC site might have a few potential businesses eyeing the property. Currently, there are initial permits looking at using the Wilson Ave site as the location for a potential restaurant and pub. Diving into the Seattle public records for the address, this language pops up from a project description from the end of May:Specific PCCTo be clear: at this point in the process, nothing is at all final (Case in point: remember all of the permits suggesting a  Scott Staples burger place that was possibly coming to the Esmay building?…none of that played out and the building is now for rent).

In fact, another CC Facebook member responded to the original excitement about the prospect of a neighborhood restaurant and pub with a more recent (7/1) email directly from PCC:

You are receiving this message because of interest you expressed in developments concerning the future use of the PCC Seward Park location that will be closed sometime next summer. Nothing final has been decided but we are happy to report that we have been pursuing inquiries from business entities that share our concern that the next occupant of our store site will be welcomed as a neighborhood asset.

One inquiry, from Ron Sher, owner of Third Place Books, is looking most promising but is still in the exploratory stage. Third Place is the enterprise we have been working with as a potential candidate the longest, based largely on our excellent experience with them in the Ravenna neighborhood some years ago.

We will keep you informed as things develop further. Thank you.

Scott McCormick – Store Director Seward Park PCC – 206.723.2720

So, that’s where it currently stands. While, yes, there are initial permits/inquiries into using the site for a restaurant and pub, PCC itself is reporting that Third Place Books has a strong interest in coming to the neighborhood. Also (and I am just speculating here), Third Place has done things like this which would be interesting. Thoughts?


Confirmed: Bookworm Exchange Reopening

A number of folks have pointed out that it appears Bookworm Exchange, the former Columbia City bookstore,photo[1] is reopening in Hillman City. However, except for the new signage that went up on the corner of Rainier and Mead recently, details are very scarce. There’s no website, the last Facebook post is from the store’s closing in 2012, and no one I’ve spoken to knows any of the specifics. A preliminary search on Seattle’s building and business permits didn’t turn up anything for Bookworm prior to 2004. A quick glance in the window shows a lot of empty shelving–which suggests this might very well be a new storefront (and, say, not just an online operation).

Does this mean Columbia/Hillman city is about to have two bookstores in the future? At this weekend’s movie in the park, I spoke with the manager of the PCC and he said Third Place Books is still very interested in pursuing the soon-to-be-former Seward Park PCC space as new location for the independent bookstore–complete with basement pub/cafe.

If anyone has any more details or thoughts about either Bookworm or Third Place, be sure to chime in.

Update: I spoke with the owner today. Bookworm Exchange is planning to open in August. As he stated in the comments in an earlier post:

Hello Bookworm Exchange is going to open at Rainier and Mead at the end of August. It will be a much smaller operation than the store in Columbia City, but basically the same. Thanks, Jim @ Bookworm Exchange

Daily Journal of Commerce on the Angeline/PCC

Clair Enlow has the a new piece entitled “Design Perspectives: Angeline Apartments will Feed Columbia City” in the Daily Journal of Commerce. Click here to read the whole piece.


Photo by Clair Enlow. DJC.

Columbia City has a long history, but it has waited a long time for Angeline. Now a big package of sorely needed urban goods is being delivered, on a very tough site.

Security Properties is developing the mixed-use building between South Angeline and Edmunds Streets, just off Rainier Avenue South. It’s anchored by a PCC Natural Markets grocery store with 193 apartments above.

Luckily, the project is not going to make this reviving neighborhood a different place. But it will be even more populated day and night — and more fun to walk around. When it opens in July, Angeline will give back to Columbia City with some new, semi-public streets…

…Security Properties purchased the site in 2011 from HAL Real Estate Investments, which had bought it in 2007. After lengthy reviews with community input, the landmarks board had rejected design proposals from HAL showing a 306-unit apartment complex wrapped around an interior court. The board was more receptive to Security Properties’ proposal, which made the building very approachable from three sides.

The Angeline project was designed by Bumgardner, which also designed PCC’s first supermarket-sized store in Fremont, part of a mixed-use project there called Epicenter.

At six stories, Epicenter and Angeline are each taller than their historic neighbors. But the five-floor residential part of Angeline is stepped back from the edge, and the tall walls are not parallel to the base. They shift direction, which makes for interesting views from all sides and from the many apartment balconies, and breaks up the bulk and scale.

Unfortunately, the character of the outer walls seems to shift abruptly with each corner, which makes the much-reviewed building look like it was designed by committee — which, in a way, it was.

Looking east along South Edmunds Street in Columbia City, this view shows that Angeline sits on a difficult site. Completion is scheduled for July.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to developing the site was an existing one-story corner bank with drive-through lanes and parking. The bank carves away about a third of the Angeline block, but it now faces 20-foot-high concrete party walls on two sides.

The good news is on top, where a long, broad deck above the 20-foot base of Angeline will support an urban farm similar to one that produces food for Bastille Cafe and Bar in Ballard, according to John Marasco of Security Properties, which owns the building in Ballard, too.

The piece goes on to discuss some of the specifics of the location, the planning, and the overall design of the building. Click here to read the whole thing.