Neighbors say WSDOT plan to save Montlake Market still falls short

Neighbors say WSDOT plan to save Montlake Market still falls short (PHOTO: KOMO News)

SEATTLE — Neighbors call it more than a grocery store — it's the heart of their community — but a major highway project threatens to take it away.

The Montlake Blvd. Market sits on the southern edge of SR 520 just west of the floating bridge. On Wednesday night, neighbors heard a new option to save the store but many said it still falls short.

“There's a lot of value to having that market there, and I think they are just treating it as a construction zone,” said Michelle Brot, one of more than 100 neighbors who attended a public meeting hosted by officials with the state Department of Transportation.

DOT outlined a new option to keep the Montlake Blvd. Market operating, but with trade-offs.

“We are honestly making an effort to try to see if there are options to save the building," said Dave Becher, WSDOT’s director of construction for the SR 520 program.

If the market does stay open, WSDOT officials said the road project would be delayed by 45 days and could cost an extra $20 million. However, the plan also includes storing construction materials alongside the market for years to come, which neighbors said would kill the business.

“What I take away from tonight's meeting is this whole effort of saving the market is disingenuous. Really they just want that site for staging,” said Sharsti Sandall, the president of the Montlake Community Club.

Neighbors also expressed concerns over one cost that is not being considered: The impact on their property values if they lose an amenity like a grocery store.

However, the SR 520 rebuild through Montlake does promise a number of public benefits. The current roadway has seismic risks, which this project would minimize. There would also be a landscaped "lid" to serve as a park over the highway. Bike trails and a new bus station would also be added.

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