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New Seasons Market opening in the Central District [Updated]

The store will open at 23rd and Union in 2018

Courtesy of Lake Union Partners

The Central District is getting a New Seasons Market in late 2018, the Portland-based grocery chain announced Friday.

The store will occupy the 18,000 square feet of retail space at East Union, Lake Union Partners’ development at 23rd and Union, which includes 144 mixed-income apartments above.

That’s not to be confused with the Midtown Center Block, where a partnership between Lake Union Partners, Africatown, and Forterra is unfolding. Still, New Seasons made mention of that development—hailed as a unique response to gentrification in the neighborhood—in their release.

New Seasons says they plan to partner with the Urban League to hire 100 people from the neighborhood to work at the new location.

“We’re looking forward to supporting the opening of this store in one of Seattle’s most diverse neighborhoods, which we’ve served for more than 90 years,” said Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle vice president Michelle Merriweather in a statement. “We’re pleased to have New Seasons join the Central District, as they’ve proven themselves to be truly committed community partners.”

New Seasons hasn’t always proved popular in Seattle, though. Previous openings have drawn criticism from labor groups. UFCW 21, who represent grocery store workers at many area grocery stores, organized an “unwelcome ceremony” for the Mercer Island store when it opened in 2016.

UFCW 21 also protested when New Seasons threw their name in the ring to become an anchor tenant at Capitol Hill Housing’s transit-oriented development by the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station.

The group has said that the grocer creates an “anti-union climate.”

When we asked New Seasons about this, they didn’t specifically mention the union. “Our staff are the heart and soul of our company, empowered to speak up, shape our culture and be involved in decisions that affect them,” said director of social responsibility Sarah Joannides. “Since day one we have been a progressive employer, offering comprehensive compensation and benefits, flexible lifestyle scheduling, training and advancement opportunities, a 20 percent staff discount and a ‘speak up’ culture of staff empowerment and engagement.”

Neither UFCW 21 did not immediately return a request for comment.

Local Democratic Party chapters have also stated their opposition to New Seasons, including the 43rd District Democrats. They passed a resolution in July opposing the chain’s expansion in Seattle.

The crux of their opposition: New Seasons is owned and funded by Endeavor Capital, which is funded by Murdock Charitable Trust, which has also given money to the group behind North Carolina’s transgender bathroom bill, local anti-union group the Freedom Foundation, and others.

“The expansion of New Seasons Market into our community would help to generate profits for the Murdock Charitable Trust, which could use those profits to further support anti-LGBTQ, anti-women and anti-worker organizations,” reads the resolution.

Similar resolutions were also passed the 36th and 37th District Democrats.

New Seasons said in their release that they offer “progressive compensation and benefits programs including flexible lifestyle scheduling, training and advancement opportunities, and a 20 percent staff discount.” They said their “speak up” culture “encourages staff to take part in decisions that affect them and fosters a safe and thriving workplace.”

This article has been updated to add information about further opposition to New Seasons’s Seattle expansion and with comment from New Seasons.