Category Archives: Development

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)

Paris Bakery Building For Sale

Over on the CC Facebook page, it was noted that the building that the Paris Bakery is located in has recently been put up for sale. The listing agent even chimed in on the conversation and confirmed that the building is indeed up for redevelopment, but limited from major changes due to its presence in the historical district. At this point, it is not clear what the future plans for Paris Bakery entail, although the listing does make it appear like the business will need to to be relocated.

For 1.3 million, the building could be yours (click for official listing) …the chatter on Facebook is that a neighborhood could really use an Indian restaurant.

Columbia City 547945Bakery/Pizzeria/Restaurant for Sale  5020 Rainier  
In the heart of Historical Columbia City is a perfect spot to relocate your existing Bakery/Pizzeria/Restaurant. This 2580 SqFt /KCR of retail space on a 4000 SqFt lot. Class 1 hood, Deep fryer, Grill, Refrigeration, Walk in cooler, Rack oven, four tier Pizza Oven, food showcases, Dough equipment, and much more. Parking for 4 to 5 cars or convert the grade level garage door and parking area into a cool outdoor deck/patio area for your guest.

Giving Opportunity: Columbia City Gateway Project

Perspective_Version1.psdAs many are already aware, there’s a community effort to transform the area surrounding 37th and Edmunds into a more welcoming, usable, and inviting part of the neighborhood. The folks behind the Columbia City Gateway project sent out the following reminder that Giving Tuesday (a nice follow-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday) is a great opportunity to get involved with the project:

Many meaningful causes are probably reaching out to you for Giving Tuesday. If you are looking for a very local one with lasting impact, please consider the Columbia City Gateway.

This project will turn the neglected and unsightly corner of 37thand South Edmunds into a welcoming streetscape with a plaza and benches for community gathering. All contributions are tax deductible and will be matched dollar for dollar, thanks to a $ 100,000 grant from the Department of Neighborhoods.   For the gift that keeps on giving (for decades), any $ 500 or higher tax deductible donation will received a 4-inch bronze medallion embedded in the project.

You can give directly right now at the Seattle Parks Foundation, or you can pick up a pledge form at the Columbia City Bakery or the Shirley Marvin Hotel.

We hope you will consider giving locally and become a Gateway Builder.  For more information, visit Friends of Columbia City Gateway on Facebook



More Details on MLK/Alaska Project

Another round of Early Design Guidance materials for the apartment building at MLK and Alaska (east side of MLK) has been posted. The review meeting with the Southeast Design Review Board is Tuesday (11/25) at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center at 6:30pm. Click here for the full packet (drawings, renderings, etc.).Screenshot 2014-11-22 at 10.16.35 AM


Seattle Weekly on Rainier Valley’s Lack of Development

The Seattle Weekly’s Nina Shapiro has a new article entitled “Where Development is Not Happening in Seattle and Why.” She begins with the following:

One bright day last week, people making their way to the Columbia City light-rail station might have noticed a “For Sale” sign on a vacant, litter-strewn parcel of land that climbs up Beacon Hill from Martin Luther King Way South. Or they might not have. The sign had been knocked to the ground, with the placard bearing the real-estate agent’s name unhinged from the post.

What’s more, this is not the only such parcel around there. The station is surrounded by seemingly unwanted land, much of it fenced off, waiting to be developed.

For much of the city, this would be an odd sight. In neighborhoods like Ballard and Capitol Hill, developers are maximizing construction on every inch of land they can find. So fast and fierce is the development that some residents say they scarcely recognize their neighborhoods anymore.

The contrast with the unused land around the Columbia City station is even more striking because it’s precisely this corridor that was supposed to see an economic boom when light rail came in. In fact, that’s why city leaders decided to start light-rail development in the South End first. “The hope was that if you got light rail in, everything would follow,” says longtime Columbia City booster and former Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith. “That’s not always the case.” Sometimes, he adds, it takes a pioneering project to get things going.

That may be happening now—finally—but the vacant properties serve as a glaring reminder that underdevelopment still exists in many parts of the Rainier Valley, the most economically and racially diverse area of town.

From there, Shapiro addresses the empty land surrounding the light rail station and why Sound Transit’s process for developing those parcels seems to be perpetually on hold. The piece wraps up with another look into Columbia City development:

Sound Transit is not a pioneer in this area. Already an incubator of charming small businesses, Columbia City has become a magnet for bigger development over the past couple of years. A stylish apartment complex called Green House, boasting granite countertops and a rooftop garden, opened in late 2012 just off the business district’s main drag. A few blocks north, on the site of a once-derelict little strip mall that Smith says used to draw laughs when he and others proposed it as a site for development, Security Properties is building a complex the order of which Columbia City has not yet seen. Due to open next summer, it will hold 193 apartments above what will be one of PCC’s biggest stores, complete with a smoothie bar and space for cooking classes.

Even on the western edge of Columbia City, which includes the light-rail station but an otherwise neglected stretch of Martin Luther King Way, a massive new development is on the way. The Arizona-based Wolff Company has just broken ground on six acres it bought from Zion Preparatory Academy. A six-building, 244-unit apartment complex will go in there, featuring “high-end interior finishes and outdoor amenity spaces,” according to Chris Rossman, the company’s vice-president for development.

Wolff tends to build in Seattle’s hottest neighborhoods, including South Lake Union and Capitol Hill, and its pick of Columbia City was well-considered, according to Rossman. “We’ve been keeping a close eye on the neighborhood,” he says. He calls the area “evolving,” adding that he expects Wolff’s own project to serve as a “catalyst.”

Rob Mohn, a smaller-scale Columbia City developer who runs an extended-stay hotel, says he thinks so too. In fact, despite trying to drum up more development in the area for years, he worries about it. “There’s a fine line between trying to get something happening and too much happening,” he says.

The valley has always been conflicted about development. On the one hand, residents want more amenities and are resentful about being overlooked by the city, developers, and many Seattleites in general. “Look,” Smith says, “a lot of people in Seattle have never been south of Jackson Street . . . I think there’s still a little racism out there.”

On the other hand, Smith, Mohn and others worry about gentrification and the effect of rising rents on beloved small businesses. “My hope is that there will be a homegrown type of redevelopment,” Smith says.

To read the whole piece, click here.

At Least One Person Likes the New Self-Storage Facility on Rainier


The Stranger’s Charles Mudede offered up the following critique of the new self-storage facility going in by Safeway. Be sure to click here to read the whole piece and to dive into the comments…many of which directly challenge Mudede’s appreciation for the building:


Photo by Charles Mudede, The Stranger

I want to open this post by making it very clear that I’m not an opponent of the Rainier Court project, a mixed-use development on a busy section of Rainier Avenue South. It’s huge, it has brought much-needed density to the area, and, when compared to the rest of the city, it’s kind of affordable. Its developers also aggressively promote the walkability of the location, which used to be a dump. You can walk to the Mount Baker Station, to a major Metro node, to a supermarket, to a variety of restaurants, and to the bars of Columbia City and Hillman City. You can live here without a car.

That said, I must point to this new and revealing curiosity. The latest addition to Rainier Court is a four-story building for the storage of extra stuff. And what is odd about this addition is, in architectural terms, it’s the best building on the block. Indeed, it’s arguably the best new building in the whole area, even better than the Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts and the homes and townhouses recently completed by Dwell Development, a firm that has made big investments in the Valley and specializes in “modern home design.” West Coast Self-Storage Columbia City is the facility’s full name, and it’s owned by a company, West Coast Self-Storage, that’s based in Mill Creek and specializes in storage facilities with “state of the art security equipment, and products and services”—heated and air-conditioned rooms, electronic gates, video surveillance, access with fingerprints, and so on.

The architecture of Self-Storage Columbia City, which is in the final stages of construction, is not great or amazing by world-class standards, but it is much better than the apartments and townhouses that surround it. Almost no architectural effort was made for the human places, but some clearly went into this place for the storage of human things. Why? My best guess: In an effort to blend with its residential/urban surroundings, and not to look like the usual lifeless box, the designers decided to make the kind of place people might actually live in. As it turns out, imagined humans provided far more architectural inspiration than the real humans that the designers of the Dakota and Courtland Place had in mind. And so we have the strange situation of human stuff being housed in an architecturally superior building than their owners.

My request to discuss the design of Self-Storage Columbia City with the Mill Creek company has yet to receive a response.

New Columbia City Businesses…(kind of)

10345993_10205435363350441_2605288595004544499_nFor about the past week or so, the windows have been covered at the former salon at Rainier and Edmunds which had been vacant since Exclusive Persistent Image relocated shortly after a car drove into the attached Fashion Nails Salon about 7 months ago (not to be confused with the other 3 cars that have driven into Columbia City buildings since then). Today, the good people at Columbia City Cuts and Barbers (located in the back section of Retroactive Kids) announced that they are taking over the space with a new storefront, The Parlour:

We’re excited to finally tell you, The Parlour is now open!

With some hard work, dedication and your support, Shelly has been able to open a new barber shop/salon. You’ll find us near the corner of Edmunds and Rainier, next to La Medusa. Right in the heart of Columbia City.

The Parlour is open to fulfill all your needs for cuts, shaves, and color. It’s styled in a way to make your appointment as comfortable as possible. With this we ask that kids that require a booster or would like to have a ride in the firetruck for their haircuts continue to book with Dina and Pam.

Online booking with schedulicity and the 206-664-1964 phone number will remain the same for booking appointments with Shelly and Jen. You will find us in the Parlour store front on Rainier.

You can still find Dina and Pam at the Columbia City Cuts snuggled inside Retroactive kids, just call 206-307-1721 to book your appointments

We appreciate your business and your patience through transitional period.

Stay warm & healthy

The ladies at the Parlour and Columbia City Cuts & Barbers

Also coming to a Columbia City 10367594_10205435231787152_5125076213293455005_nstorefront is Alma, a local jewelry and accessory pop up run by Julie Andres (formerly of La Medusa) who managed to score a window display at 3806 S. Ferdinand for the holidays, the crumbling (but awesome) building that’s been vacant/used for storage (and coveted by many a restaurateur and business owner) for years next to Geraldine’s. As of now, there’s no indication of an actual store in the future, but the window display will be a nice addition to the neighborhood look and feel. Details about when/where to actually track down Alma when it pops-up next can be found here.

Thanks to Scott for the pics!

Quadrant Homes Bails On Columbia City Developments

This one was buried in this weekend’s Seattle Times. It looks like Quadrant Homes is walking away from a number of Columbia City developments. For the more information on the proposed projects, be sure to check out the neighborhood Project/Development Map (again, a big thanks to Scott for maintaining!). From the TimesStudy:

Quadrant drops in-city project

In early 2014, Quadrant Homes announced plans to build dozens of town homes and sell them to Gen Y buyers in Seattle’s hot Columbia City neighborhood.

Priced from the mid-$300s to low-$500s, the New Urban Innovations brand was an effort by one of the Puget Sound region’s biggest homebuilders to meet strong demand for in-city homes at a time when large, undeveloped suburban tracts were becoming hard to find.

“For this company to grow, we’re going to take advantage of several different buying demographics,” said Quadrant Homes President Ken Krivanec in an interview last spring. “Gen Y is the focal point for New Urban.”

Now, in a reversal, the Bellevue-based homebuilder is selling off all its Columbia City parcels — 91 lots — by the first quarter of next year, Krivanec said last week.

He said he made the decision after Tri Pointe Homes acquired Quadrant and four other brand-name homebuilders in Weyerhaeuser’s real-estate unit in a transaction valued at about $2.8 billion.

Quadrant will focus on its core business of building single-family homes in the suburbs, where it has more experience.

“This decision was mine to bring to them and they were supportive of it,” he said.

Coming out of the Great Recession, the traditional suburban homebuilder had decided to launch a brand of urban homes to expand.

Quadrant’s production peaked at 1,391 deliveries in 2005; after the 2008 crash, its production hit a low of 340 homes in 2011. Last year it delivered 363 homes, according to Quadrant.

Always on the lookout for buildable land, Quadrant snatched up foreclosed real estate in Columbia City cheaply from banks during the downturn.

In 2011, Quadrant bought a half-acre from Sterling Savings Bank for $100,000, later obtaining permits for 16 town homes on the site, records show.

The next year it bought 24 undeveloped parcels for $800,000 from Union Bank.

Near the intersection of Rainier Avenue South and 42nd Avenue South, the company officials said it was planning another 52 town homes.

From March through August this year, Quadrant spent almost $2.7 million buying parcels from individual property owners for its Rainier Avenue South development, records show.

Quadrant drove piles into the ground earlier this year, but never started building.

With home prices in the Seattle area back to pre-crash levels and buildable land in urban areas scarce, Quadrant saw it could cash in on its lots in Columbia City without the homes.

“Land value in Seattle continues to grow,” Krivanec said. “The lots are worth a lot.”

— Sanjay Bhatt:

Seattle Transit Blog on Developer’s Want for More Parking

The Seattle Transit Blog’s KJ Hiramoto has a new piece on the new development going in at the former Zion Prep site and the developer’s want for more parking:

After completing most of the necessary steps with the City of Seattle, construction for a new apartment building in Columbia City is set to begin sometime in December.

Columbia City Map“We’re finishing up our building permit application, the project is phased, and we’ve already got a permit for demolition,” said Chris Weber of BAR Architects, one of the firms in charge of this project. “It’s been a fairly typical building permit and application process.”

The new Columbia City development at 4730 32nd Ave South will have six buildings consisting of 244 apartment units. The apartment building is also expected to have a roof terrace, lounge, and a fitness center. Weber said the target date for the completion of construction is set to summer 2015.


With 215 parking spaces, 126 on the surface and 89 underground, the amount of parking is a major issue for a neighborhood with ambitions of being transit-friendly.

“With Columbia City, we looked to see a balance between working for sustainability and conforming to the demands of rent,” Weber said. “We understood early on that there simply is a market to be in for parking spaces.”

Weber added that there are no expectations of empty parking spaces in the apartment buildings.

“Even though the project is next to a light rail station, people living that far from the city center have the expectation of using a car,” Weber said. “While we all like the idea of working toward an automobile-free society, the apartment simply won’t be rented out if there aren’t any parking spaces.”

Read the whole piece here (and be sure to dive into the comments for even more thoughts on the issue).