How did we miss the P-I’s comprehensive report back on Aug. 30 that downtown was getting a new, full-service grocery store? The Labor Day holiday weekend must’ve blinded us to the story, which is significant in that a local landlord is contracting with a local (Whidbey Island) grocery company to serve downtown residents at Third and Pike. Whether wealthy downtown condo dwellers will actually shop there is a different question. Those with cars—and if you can afford to buy downtown, you can afford a car—may still motor over to the Whole Foods at Paul Allen’s 2200 Westlake; or to the Safeway and Met Market in Lower Queen Anne; or to the new QFC beneath the Lumen condominium where the old Tower Records used to sit at Mercer and Fifth. And you can be sure that when Nitze-Stagen adds some 1,000 units of housing to the north lot of Qwest Field, there will be a full-service grocery store for those residents, too.
Significantly, there won’t be any parking for the basement-level Kress IGA Supermarket (projected to open next February), meaning you gotta lug home your cat food, frozen pizza, and beer in quantities you can carry by hand. After all, there’s only so much one can fit in two hemp shopping bags; or one could invest in a wheeled cart for larger purchases. But the absence of parking may tip the store’s demographic to renters and, significantly, outbound bus riders. The Kress building, owned by a pair of Tacoma-raised brothers, is located at the southwest corner of Third and Pike (its most significant tenant now, of course, is a Starbucks). And that stretch, already somewhat notorious for petty street crime, seems even more transient with its now-permanent bus lane status. Not a place to linger, in other words, and perhaps not a place to shop.
We hope the IGA turns out to be a clean, safe, welcome refuge; and it never hurts to have another source of takeout food for late-night office workers (as we know from direct experience). On the other hand, if you’re wearily looking for a place to sit on the express bus home to Lake City, don’t be surprised if the last seat is taken by a giant, 24-count bale of toilet paper. Priced to move.