After four years of planning, efforts to build an entirely new wing of Pike Place Market are gathering speed.
The project known as MarketFront will essentially turn a surface parking lot down on Western Avenue (the one by the skybridge) into a space for more daytime vendor stalls, more affordable senior housing and social services, and even more parking (300 spaces, plus 33 bike spaces). From a food perspective, the big news is the 12,000 square feet of additional retail space, which is almost entirely pre-leased to various local purveyors of biscuits, chocolate, beer, and more.
By way of orientation, MarketFront will be behind the existing market—nothing's changing there. The expansion's water-facing perch will ultimately connect the market to the waterfront once the viaduct comes down.
There used to be a market building here, but it caught fire 1974 and was torn down. While the project has gone through countless layers of committee sessions and public meetings, it finally graduates from abstract to fact this spring—construction is slated to begin in May.
The market's historic commision approved the final design in January...and here's where Seattle's beloved process kicks in. Ben Franz-Knight—head of the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority, which oversees Pike Place Market—says several local food purveyors have signed on to the new space and been approved by his agency. He mentioned Honest Biscuits, Indi Chocolate, and a brand new brewery called Old Stove. However things won't be official until these potential tenants also get approved by the market's historic commission (hence the term "pre-leased"). The folks at Honest Biscuits and Old Stove don't want to say much until that happens.
There's also talk of a tapas-style restaurant where seafood will be cured onsite, but Franz-Knight isn't quite ready to divulge details.
Pike Place Market's mantra is "meet the producer," but these days there's no space for food production to be visible to the public, a la the cheesemaking at Beecher's. Franz-Knight is especially psyched that marketgoers could watch beer, chocolate, or biscuits being made in the new space.
There's a town hall meeting tonight at the market for anyone who'd like to learn more about MarketFront. The expansion could be completed by the end of 2016; the Pike Place Market website has more details.