City People’s Garden Store, a fixture in Seattle’s Madison Valley for some 28 years, is likely entering its last spring.
City People’s Garden Store, an institution in Seattle’s Madison Valley for some 28 years, is likely entering its last spring.
The owners of the property on which the store sits — some of whom are also owners of the store — are retiring. They have not renewed City People’s lease and are in the midst of selling the property.
“It’s a very tough situation,” said Steve Magley, one of the store’s three co-owners. “I’ve got 40-some employees. We’re all worried about what we’re going to do from here.”
The owners of the property have assured Magley that the store can remain open through the end of the year but it’s uncertain what will happen to it after that.
“There are a couple of people on staff who are interested in trying to carry a garden store forward. I’m working with them on that possibility,” Magley said. “We’re in the beginning stages of trying to explore what the options are for moving the store.”
Some of Magley’s employees have worked there for more than 20 years.
“That’s what’s partially making this particularly hard,” he said. “We’ve been together so long it’s hard to fathom the idea of not being together.”
Two of the four owners of the property are also co-owners of the City People’s Garden Store.
“This has been my life,” said Dianne Casper, 60, who owns a stake in both the property and the store.
Casper recalls when the original owners of City People’s Mercantile on Capitol Hill bought the property in Madison Valley 28 years ago. (The Capitol Hill location has since closed. A City People’s Mercantile location on Sand Point Way remains open.)
“We scraped together our pennies and bought it,” Casper said. “We’re now in our 60s and 70s and we’re ready to retire. We know there’s probably not a good time to retire. … I know it’s a big loss for people. For us, as we get this old, it’s a time that makes sense for us.”
The buyer of the property is Michigan-based developer The Velmeir Companies, as reported by the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog.
Velmeir plans to build a 165,570-square-foot mixed-use building with 75 units and 164 parking spaces, according to a permit filed with the City of Seattle.
F. Geza de Gall, vice president of real estate and development for Velmeir, said in a statement that the company “worked closely and thoughtfully to reach agreement, and are looking forward to becoming a new neighbor in the Madison Valley community.”
The statement added that Velmeir is in negotiations “with a well-respected local business, and will be announcing that retail tenant soon.”
It’s unlikely that tenant will be City People’s Garden Store.
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Magley says he hasn’t been approached to be a tenant, most likely because of the garden store’s need for extensive outdoor space.
“The writing’s on the wall,” he said.