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Full-service grocery store coming to downtown Tacoma’s Pacific Plaza

Post by Kathleen Cooper / The News Tribune on Jan. 4, 2011 at 10:15 am with 14 Comments »
January 4, 2011 11:11 am

A full-service grocery store for Tacoma’s downtown core is just a few signatures away.

Dan Putnam said this morning that he and his partners, owners of Pacific Plaza at 1250 Pacific Ave., have a lease agreement with Tyler Myers of The Myers Group, a Whidbey Island-based company. The group owns and operates four other grocery stores in Washington, including the Kress IGA near Pike Place Market in Seattle.

After the lease is signed, Putnam said the 16,000-square-foot store will open on the south side of Pacific Plaza in May or June. When it does, the building that was redeveloped through a private-public partnership with the City of Tacoma will be almost fully leased. A 2,800-square-foot retail space on the north side of the building is all that’s left.

The as-yet-unnamed store will be similar in size to the Kress IGA, Putnam said. The Kress IGA has operated in the basement of a historic building since 2008. According to its website, almost half of the store is dedicated to “grab-and-go” prepared food. The store also has organic produce, meat, baked goods and frozen food.

The Myers Group operates three additional IGA stores, in Camano Island, Ocean Shores and Snoqualmie. It also owns hardware stores and gas stations, as well as providing real estate and property management services. According to its website, the group employs 350 people.

Myers wasn’t immediately available for comment. But he told the Puget Sound Business Journal in 2008 that his company is able to compete with major grocery chains because it chooses its markets carefully. “All the locations are smaller, tight-knit communities where an independent grocer can come in and meet the needs of an underserved area,” the paper reported.

The terms of the lease reflect shared risk by Myers and the Pacific Plaza ownership group, Putnam said. The building’s owners will pay to finish the space. The lease is for five years, with five additional five-year options to renew. (Typical commercial leases are 10 years with five-year options.) And Putnam and his partners have devised a rent structure that ties the rental rate to the grocery’s sales volume.

“From a financial side the grocer isn’t a big plus,” Putnam said. “If it does well, we’ll get decent rents. If not, we won’t cover our costs. But from a civic pride point, it’s the best lease we have in our building.”

“In my heart of hearts, bringing a grocery store to downtown Tacoma is one of the biggest retail wins in memory,” he said. “I know from that store and the activity, if we really get the foot traffic, it will fill some of the dark holes around us as the economy rebounds in the next couple of years.”

Putnam said two market studies show the potential for a store in Pacific Plaza. Supervalu, a wholesale food distributor who has a warehouse in Tacoma, did the first. Then Myers did his own, Putnam said.

“The studies came in very similiar,” he said, though he didn’t have the numbers in front of him. “We hope to do better than the study. I’m hoping downtown residents and workers really support this store.”

The census tract that includes Pacific Plaza shows a population of 1,400. By comparison, the census tract around the Seattle Kress IGA shows a population of about 4,200 3,400. Census tracts are designed to be relatively similar.

Putnam said the studies were conservative.

“I think the studies have underestimated the worker-customer,” he said. “The second study indicated only 20 percent of volume would come from workers.” He thinks they can do better than that.

Read more in Wednesday’s News Tribune.

Leave a comment Comments → 14
  1. this is truly glorious news. Not quite as awesome as getting the Attorney General to move in to more expensive office space from across the street, but still at least this business will perform some service to the common man about the streets put food into the hungry bellies of hipster chicks/boys at UW Tacoma!

    TRIUMPH !

  2. WCrain10 says:

    This is outstanding news for downtown. After watching businesses come and go for the last several years, it good to see a real, solid business open in Tacoma. The downtown area needs a few more stores servicing the local community with practical goods and a few less stores trying to make a go of it selling knick-knacks. Those of us who live or work downtown are within blocks of every ceramic cat you could ever want but have to take the bus to buy a bag of groceries. That can get old really fast. I hope this store has a good run, maybe that will bring more real businesses to downtown.

  3. Great!!! Now how about building one in the new empty (where beautiful houses once stood) fields of Fife!

  4. headcase says:

    Time for Erivan Haub’s agents to create some urgency in him. We need a retail center in Tacoma…….. yesterday!!

    “If you build it, they will come.”

    And so will I!

  5. YAY! Glad this is coming. Downtown could use a grocery store. It think they’ll see more business than expected. There are quite a few residents in the downtown area, and plenty of office workers who would love a new place to grab lunch or a few groceries before heading home.

  6. Puyallup says:

    This is great news. I now I’ll shop there.

  7. aranciata says:

    It’ll go the way of Right Aid on 11th & MLK. People don’t shop downtown, they shoplift downtown.

  8. information1 says:

    Fantastic news for downtown Tacoma. Hopefully they find great sucess and then move into DuPont, another ‘underserved, tight-knit community’.

  9. People, your age is showing. I’ve lived her since 1976, and heard this story too many times to count. From what they’ve described, it’s a hopped up convenience store. This is truly sad. Downtown Portland has the nicest upscale Safeway you’ve ever seen catty corner to the Portland Art Museum, and my mother can walk there from her condo. Why can’t Tacoma do something similar? If you want people to live/work in Tacoma, you need to feed them reasonable food at a reasonable price. Expensive restaurants and pre-packaged convenience store food are two ends of the spectrum. Let’s meet in the middle and get some REAL FOOD there.

  10. This is great news, and I think there’s reason to be optimistic that this time it is actually happening. The Ocean Shores IGA is a nice little full service grocery (albeit one that has never heard of gluten free products of any kind) and the Kress IGA is definitely more upscale than “convenience store food.” Hopefully, we’ll get something that meets the needs of the neighborhood and breathes a little retail life into downtown.

  11. alindasue says:

    YeeHaw, even a “hopped up convenience store” is a much needed addition to the downtown area. The closes convenience stores or grocery stores are way up on the top of the hill or over near the Stadium district.

  12. I`m concerned about the parking. Will customers have to pay to park to buy their groceries? I don`t think that would go over very well.
    As a volunteer for the Visitor Information I cannot tell you how many times visitors have asked about a grocery store. I send them to Albertsons on 38th and Pacific, which is quite a walk if they don`rt have transportation. I hope this store will happen.

  13. jake840 says:

    anitad, most urban grocers with garage parking validate parking when you shop or have a free parking area in the garage for shoppers. I am pretty sure that will be the case here.

  14. eyeugize says:

    Yeah right, It’s exactly what Tacoma needs. More civic pride in a venture doomed to fail. These people need to double check the downtown demographics.

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