Peninsula Shopping Center plan could bring regional grocery back to downtown
A major renovation is proposed for the Peninsula Shopping Center on Judson Street in downtown Gig Harbor, according to preliminary documents filed with the city.
The renovation would “reintroduce a regional grocery store to the site,” according to the documents, filed by developer Rush Construction.
Also planned are aesthetic improvements and demolition of about 9,000 square feet of the central portion of the complex to allow more parking and better traffic circulation.
So which grocery is moving in?
That is unknown at this point. But Town & Country, a regional chain with roots in adjacent Kitsap County, has repeatedly expressed interest in the Gig Harbor market.
And an annotation added by city staff to one of the preliminary documents indicates that the “anchor tenant as staff understands it is T&C.”
Boatloads of customers?
A QFC grocery in the Peninsula Shopping Center closed in 2011. Smaller groceries, like Finholm’s Market on North Harborview Drive and The Harbor General Store on Pioneer Way, have been the only downtown options since QFC closed.
The return of a full-service, regional grocery to downtown is crucial, local leaders said.
“Having a grocery that’s walkable for our downtown is really important not only for our residents, but also for our visitors and boaters,” said Mary DesMarais of the Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance. She said visitors often stop by the alliance’s Harborview Drive office asking for the location of the closest grocery.
“Especially during the summer season, when boating is at its peak and there are a lot of tourists that come to town, that’s when we need a grocery downtown,” said Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Miriam Battson. “To have a grocery within walking distance to the downtown area, for those coming in off a boat, is going to be amazing.”
The anchor space at Peninsula Shopping Center has been mostly vacant since QFC departed in 2011. Having a tenant back in that space will benefit other businesses, according to Mayor Tracie Markley.
“I am really excited at the prospect of a full-grocery coming back to downtown, especially in the Peninsula Shopping Center,” Markley said. “The whole redevelopment of that site is going to give us a much-needed facelift, and also drive more economic activity downtown.”
7 Seas Brewing occupied a 10,000-square-foot space at the shopping center from 2012 until March 21, 2021, when it moved down the hill to the former home of The Green Turtle Restaurant. Green Turtle had been there 26 years before closing on Sept. 30, 2019. 7 Seas is now located at the mouth of the harbor at 2985 Harborview Dr.
Ongoing interest from Town & Country
Neither T&C Markets nor developer Rush Construction responded to requests for comment on the proposal. T&C has previously expressed strong interest in the Gig Harbor market, however.
The chain, which operates stores in Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island as well as the Seattle area, mentioned Peninsula Shopping Center as a possible location in a 2020 blog post.
“We are considering a new market, much like our T&C Market Bainbridge Island, at the former Thriftway/QFC store in the Peninsula Shopping Center on Judson Street downtown,” the post said. “We are working with The Rush Companies on a potential agreement to locate at the downtown site, with site redevelopment.”
A public relations firm working on T&C’s behalf released the following statement last fall:
“Town & Country Markets is excited to be expanding into the Gig Harbor community. The company has had a strong desire to open a market in the area for years, so it can feed the joy of discovery and bring food people love to more locals. Town & Country is looking forward to sharing more details on the location once finalized.”
The timeline for the project remains unclear. Markley pointed out that the documents posted on the city’s website are preliminary and no final application is in place.
City Community Development Director Katrina Knutson said the permitting process for a project of this complexity typically takes about three months.
No information is available on when construction could start.
The preliminary documents call for removal of about 9,110 square feet of the existing building to the west (closer to Stanich Place and Pioneer Way) of the grocery space.
A 2,600-square-foot “mezzanine addition” would be added to the grocery space, resulting in a net reduction of 6,500-square-feet of building space.
Markley said the proposal is “very much within the character of our downtown.” The mezzanine addition “won’t be any higher than (the building) already is,” the mayor added.
The preliminary documents indicate that along with a regional grocery, the redeveloped Peninsula Shopping Center would include space for either “existing tenant occupancy” or “new complementary uses.”
Current tenants at the center include the U.S. Post Office; Mizu Japanese Steakhouse; Harbor Barber; Sushi Teriyaki; Lucky Dog Outfitters; McBeckland’s Boutique; and Columbia Bank. The plans seem to indicate that the Post Office would remain at the shopping center, though with a relocated loading dock.