Queen Anne Place ... creating a community gathering place

In Italy, it's passegiata; in France, it's rue piƩtonnaire. Our vision for Queen Anne Place on Queen Anne Avenue is to create a center where people can shop, walk around the plaza or share a cup of coffee with friends at an outdoor, shaded table that's away from the noise of traffic. This will be a place where families feel welcome and where shops are accessible to all.

Our goal is to create a well-designed, high-quality, two-story retail environment with a grocery store on the first level and 15,000 square feet of specialty retail above. We plan to bring a project that is pedestrian friendly, centered in the heart of the Queen Anne Hill neighborhood, that will preserve the character of the community. We encourage everyone to stay involved as we navigate through this process.

We know this is an emotional issue for some, and that there are some who oppose any change. Many of you who have lived on the Hill for a while know that we have had plans to redevelop the property for several years. The building is outdated, out of character, obsolete and has been standing for more than 40 years. In fact, we have owned the property for more than 50 years.

We have been planning this development for more than 10 years. We tried very hard to continue the long relationship with Metropolitan Markets. During this time Metropolitan Markets developed several other locations in the Seattle area. In September 2004, Metropolitan Markets gave notice to ownership that, due to development of other locations, its future plans did not include this site. We had no alternative but to look for another tenant. It's now time to move forward with our plans for the site.

Our grocery partner is QFC. We had some very specific requirements for any potential partner:

(1) a grocer with a track record for community involvement;

(2) one that would be a good neighbor and had an understanding of the Queen Anne area;

(3) a grocer with a commitment to the finest in products and produce; and

(4) preferably one that was locally operated.

Ownership is pleased to have signed a lease with QFC, an operator that we feel represented the best fit for the project. We look forward to a long-term partnership with QFC as our tenant as they have proved to be a good neighbor and friend to Seattle and the surrounding communities for more than 50 years.

QFC started in Seattle in 1955. Vern Fortin, the "Father of QFC," was a well-respected businessman and a highly regarded civic leader. He had a deep and abiding commitment to community involvement. While QFC may have gone through some rough years when they were initially acquired by Fred Meyer, that all changed when Kroger acquired the group of QFC grocery stores. Recognizing that QFC holds a unique niche in the Northwest grocery market, Kroger soon began to adopt many of the QFC operations and now uses QFC as a model for several of its other stores.

QFC remains a locally operated grocery store. QFC buys more local produce than any other grocery store in Washington. QFC uses many of the same specialty-item vendors that supply Metropolitan Market, and they look forward to supplying the Queen Anne Place QFC with the same kinds of products you and your neighbors want.

We have met with many community groups and have attended community meetings for the past few months and have considered much of the initial feedback we received as we move forward in our design. We encourage and want constructive involvement and feedback moving forward in the development process. Right now, we are in the design concept phase only - much can still change.

There will be a meeting of the Queen Anne Community Council's Land Use Review Committee on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at Bethany Presbyterian Church on Queen Anne Avenue (please check www.qacc.net for more details). There will be many more opportunities for you to be involved and to be heard. You also can go to our Web site - www.queenanneplace.com - to check for progress reports and to give us your suggestions. We at Queen Anne Properties and QFC plan to be as available to you as possible.

We look forward to developing a project that will be compatible with the charm and character of the Queen Anne community. Thank you.

Christina Cox is spokesperson for Queen Anne Properties and one of three owners of the proposed development site on Queen Anne Avenue between Crockett and Howe.

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