Why Trader Joe's is coming to Kent

Trader Joe
Trader Joe's grocery store is expected to open this fall in Kent at the northwest corner of 132nd Avenue Southeast and Kent-Kangley Road.

Trader Joe's decided to open a neighborhood grocery store this fall in Kent partly because of a location close to high-quality housing and higher-household incomes.

Kurt Hanson, city economic development manager, told the City Council at its Feb. 18 meeting what helped attract Trader Joe's to the MarketPlace at Lake Meridian shopping center at the northwest corner of 132nd Avenue Southeast and Kent-Kangley Road.

"It has wonderful proximity to high-quality housing," said Hanson, who noted the Meridian Valley Country Club is within a few miles of the shopping center.

Hanson said the average household income within a 3-mile radius of the site is about $86,000, much higher than the state's average household income of $56,000. He said the median home value in the area is $309,000 compared to the state average of $287,000.

"It's a case study of how to recruit retail," Hanson said.

Trader Joe's hopes to open in October, Hanson said. The company announced in January it would be coming to Kent to open an approximately 13,000-square-foot store. The chain features imported and domestic food and beverages and has more than 400 stores in 36 states.

Residents are plenty pumped about the store opening on the East Hill.

"If you look at the Kent Reporter (website) story about the store opening and how many comments are attached, it's unbelievable how much community interest there is in Trader Joe's," Hanson said.

The story posted Jan. 17 has more than 270 comments and ranks as the most read story over the last year on the Kent Reporter website.

Developer Amin "Andy" Lakha played a large role as well in attracting Trader Joe's with a decision to give the 174,000-square-foot shopping center a multi-million dollar face-lift.

"It's the right time to invest in this property," said Lakha in a Feb. 24 media release about the MarketPlace at Lake Meridian. "The prime location and visibility, excellent demographics, great traffic counts and the improved economy offer a very favorable environment in which to make these improvements."

The shopping center opened in 1989 and over the years has housed Lucky's (which became Albertsons), 24 Hour Fitness, Bartell's, Bank of America and others. Trader Joe's will move into the old 24 Hour Fitness site.

The face-lift will include a new facade, additional lighting and signage, and an improved parking lot and landscaping.

Other national and regional retailers and restaurants are showing an interest in the shopping center since Trader Joe's announced its opening, Hanson said.

Hanson said the city continues to aggressively market the closed TOP Food and Drug store on the East Hill as a site for a new grocer as well as a city-owned property on the south side of Veteran's Drive on the West Hill near Military Road South.



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