Companies near the future Russell Investments Center hope that their new neighbors bring an increase in business.

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Joanna Yi was happy to hear that Russell Investments plans to move into Chase Center, across the street from the Rex’s Deli and Espresso franchise she co-owns on the corner of University Street and Second Avenue.

One of her customers told her the news Wednesday morning.

“I was like, ‘Yay!’ ” she said.

For 10 years, Joanna and Jae Boy Yi relied on Washington Mutual employees in the former WaMu Tower to keep their deli running by buying salads, sandwiches, cookies and coffee.

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But the Yis lost many of their regular customers in December, when JPMorgan Chase, which absorbed WaMu’s banking operation, laid off 3,400 headquarters employees.

“We’re really small, so we just try to hang in there,” said Joanna Yi. “We’re trying to make it wherever we can.”

One block east of the future Russell Investments Center, Epicenter Fitness has already contacted its new neighbor to pitch a special corporate discount for employees.

Shortly after Washington Mutual’s headquarters staff was slashed, an Epicenter manager said four to six of the gym’s customers were canceling their memberships each day.

Jerome Jackson-Kingston, now the downtown gym’s general manager, said that pace of cancellations has continued, though the staff hasn’t been cut back.

Once Russell moves in, “we might be adding some personal trainers,” he said.

But for the Yis’ deli, the need for new customers from Russell Investments is more urgent.

“I’m hoping that a lot of people come in because business is really down,” said Kimberley Turner, the Yis’ only employee.

Kaitlin Strohschein: 206-464-5618 or

Material from The Seattle Times archives was used in this report.

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