How the 'Old' Pike Place Market Acts as Incubator for the New MarketFront Addition

Three ‘new’ enterprises got started elsewhere in the market before opening in MarketFront.

This article appears in print in the March 2018 issue, as part of the cover story, "The Pike Place Market Economy." Click here for a free subscription.

Pike Place Market underwent a careful and costly overhaul in the 1990s. Then last year, it unveiled a major expansion, which, upon completion, will provide an escape valve for the pressure of crowds on summer days when several cruise ships full of tourists pour into the city. And when the Alaskan Way Viaduct comes down, the expansion will reestablish the market’s connection to the waterfront.

The market’s lack of abundant financial resources and its strict rules governing who can occupy space created unique challenges during planning for the new development. Of the $73 million cost of the project, $34 million came from the city of Seattle, $6 million from philanthropy and contributions and $19 million from debt financing and bonds. That investment brought 30,000 square feet of open space — a sort of civic balcony overlooking Elliott Bay — plus 40 low-income senior-housing apartments, 47 new farm stands, 33 bicycle spaces and 12,000 square feet of commercial space.

MARKETING THE MARKET: The MarketFront addition restores the market’s connection to the city’s waterfront, top. Old Stove Brewing Co., above, is one of the first tenants of the new space. Photo by Navid Baraty.

But there was a conundrum. How do you get three new tenants ready to move in as soon as the construction is complete when rules forbid accepting a branch of an existing business?

The PDA came up with a creative solution. Several years ago, it began recruiting specific retailers into the old market with the specific intention of allowing them to incubate their businesses so they would be ready to move into the new Producer Hall when it was ready. Old Stove Brewery opened on First Avenue in what had been a bagel shop. Erin Andrews, who used to be a manager with PwC, formerly PriceWaterhouseCoopers, opened Indi Chocolate in a 400-square-foot space in one of the market’s underground concourses. Now in the new space, which is five times larger, she has 12 employees and revenue has tripled. Art Stone’s Honest Biscuits, which started out among the farm tables in 2012, was placed in a 450-square-foot storefront in the Economy Market building, where he sold homemade biscuits and sandwiches. Last year, the shop moved into prime space in Producer Hall, where patrons can grab a sandwich and enjoy the view.

Read the rest of the cover story here.

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