Next Big Box Battle: Greenwood Fred Meyer

Seattle's supposed to get a bunch of new residents over the coming decades (unless Boeing leaves, in which case it won't get so many), so the city has designated urban growth centers and villages to take on all the new folks. That way we can have walkable neighborhoods, transit-friendly development, and single family neighborhoods won't have their Mayberry sightlines disrupted by, say, a duplex or a two-story apartment building.

So the big debate is what the new development should look like. The big money appears to be behind big boxes, albeit in a modified form. The Dearborn-Goodwill project features a bunch of housing over a Target (among other businesses) and a sea of parking spaces. Similarly, Northgate's Thornton Place is something of a hybrid, combining the big box of theater with a apartments, smaller retailers, and a plaza.

Well, it looks like the next big box attempt--and it's been ongoing--will be in Greenwood and won't be so hybrid. Phinnewood reports that Fred Meyer wants to build a mega-store with a single, front entrance at its current site at 1st Ave NW and NW 85th St. (Which, incidentally, is right next to a new mixed-use development.) Meanwhile, the Greenwood Community Council has a very different vision for the site:

The Greenwood Community Council has been working with the developers on their design. Kate Martin, president of the GCC, says Fred Meyer wants a single-story "big box" with a single entry door. The GCC wants a smaller footprint mixed-use building, that is more pedestrian and bike friendly, with several entries and lanes for walking. They're interested in possibly putting housing on top, and they also want the grocery store "out of the box," Martin says.

While malls are dying, some of the recession's best performers have been big box discounters like Wal-Mart and Costco, so the model may still be a good one economically (if not environmentally or for urban life, generally). Either way, the GCC will be looking for public input this Saturday on how the site should be redeveloped, with an eye to asking the city for zoning changes that encourage the model the community seeks. (9:30-11:00 AM Greenwood Neighborhood Service Center at 8515 Greenwood Ave. N.)

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