During a discussion about the Albertsons property at the July 7 City Council meeting, City Manager Noel Treat said that a lease has been “fully executed” for the site.
He said that an announcement is expected in the next week, but didn’t say which tenant was close to signing the lease.
“Reports circulating suggest that at least three groceries (PCC, Metropolitan Market and New Seasons-a chain out of Portland) are seeking the location and that the entity controlling this lease is willing to rent to one of them,” Deputy Mayor Dan Grausz wrote in an email update to Islanders.
The land is managed by Rabina Properties, which is based out of New York and owns one property in the state of Washington.
Islanders have a clear preference. The Facebook group “Bring PCC to Mercer Island” has more than 1,300 supporters, and group members arranged to wear their matching green T-shirts to the meeting.
The senior vice president of marketing for Metropolitan Market also attended the July 7 meeting, and said that the grocer has been looking for a site on the Island for more than a decade.
Several residents addressed the Council, noting the benefits that a coop model has for the environment and economy. They suggested that the city support their “local food, local grocers, local workers” message by passing a grocery workers retention ordinance to keep the union-represented, former Albertsons workers employed at the new store, whatever it may be.
They said that a non-union grocer would displace 19 Albertsons employees, some of which are Mercer Island residents.
Steve Williamson, community affairs director for UFCW 21 that represents workers at PCC and Metropolitan Market, said that retail workers want to serve a community and get to know their customers, and that “the banner over the door doesn’t matter.”
The Council ultimately decided not to adopt the ordinance, as it may be too late in this situation, but said it hoped employers were listening to the conversation in the community.
Mayor Bruce Bassett said the city would leave the matter to the free market and hope it does right by the workers.