Montlake Market: A Need for Accountability
The Montlake Blvd. Market is a test case in the need for renewed accountability within the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the City of Seattle.
Our coalition supports the SR 520 replacement project and recognizes its many benefits.
We also support and will push for good-government, transparency, and upholding public process.
WSDOT’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in 2011 selected a Preferred Alternative for SR 520’s Rest of the West project that preserved both the Montlake Blvd. Market and gas station – the neighborhood’s only grocery and gas station. This decision affirmed the significant public importance of the market and avoided the vast negative impacts of tearing it down.
With little notice and zero public review, WSDOT later broke their commitment to the Montlake community. After vacillating between taking just the gas station, WSDOT ultimately peddled fickle excuses for their new plans to condemn the property and tear down the market: Use as a un-needed staging area, impacts from FOUR un-reviewed lane shifts to Montlake Blvd, and the need to dig a 150ft work pit, which could actually be contained to the size of a cargo container.
To make matters worse, WSDOT’s only consideration of their plans to tear down the beloved 80-year old community grocery store looked more like a rubber stamped “box-checking” exercise than a legitimized public analysis. WSDOT’s project re-evaluation did not discuss demolition of the Market, and only barely mentioned potential staging use of the properties.
In a community presentation, WSDOT also promised they would NOT use the properties for general construction staging and they DID NOT need to demolish the Market, but rather hoped to become the Market’s landlord. Now, WSDOT essentially claims that tearing down the market will not result in adverse environmental impacts, only business/economic impact.
If WSDOT’s reasoning for tearing down the neighborhood’s iconic and most-utilized grocery store seems arbitrary, hearing directly from them didn’t help. When asked in a 2017 legal deposition, a senior WSDOT project representative went on the record, clearly saying that the market wasn’t needed to complete the SR 520 bridge replacement project.
Accompanying the 2011 FEIS that preserved the Montlake Blvd. Market and gas station was a City of Seattle MOU that authorized the city to enforce the Prefered Alternative and play an active role in mitigating the project’s impacts. That didn’t seem to matter under previous city leadership when officials were given direct orders to ignore the public’s appeals about saving the market.
WSDOT’s noise variance request submitted to the City of Seattle further highlights their SR 520 duplicity. The analysis is completely devoid of the impacts from demolishing the market, and review of their proposals to shift Montlake Blvd four separate times goes entirely ignored. More shocking, is the fact WSDOT actually uses the Montlake Blvd Market building a physical noise barrier in this application.
Until the proper analysis of these noise and environmental impacts occur, the City of Seattle should either reject WSDOT’s noise variance or preclude them from demolishing the market as they have proposed.
News & Resources
The work scheduled to begin late this year on the next phase of rebuilding State Route 520 will open a long period of construction.... READ MORE
At a recent neighborhood mayoral candidate forum, more than 150 neighbors heard both candidates express support for Seattle’s established community councils, associations and clubs.... READ MORE
Neighbors are objecting to a decision by the state to condemn the Montlake Boulevard Market next to Highway 520, and use the land to... READ MORE