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SEATTLE – A Mother’s Day trip to Pike Place Market will be made easier with the addition of 300 new parking spaces now open on Western Avenue. The MarketFront parking garage is part of the market’s $74 million dollar expansion that is expected to be complete by the end of next month.
“We drove down here and it was a nightmare,” said Renton resident Gretchen Guhlke. She said everything seemed to stop when she arrived in downtown. “Once we got in town, there’s like no parking,” said Guhlke. “Everyone is down here.”
Guhlke didn’t know, like many others visiting the market on Saturday, that the new parking garage had just opened the day before. It's part of what officials are hoping will help draw those from around the Puget Sound to the traditional tourist destination.
When completed, in addition to the 300 parking spaces, the MarketFront will provide 40 new low-income housing units, 10,000 square feet of new enclosed retail space, a weather protected plaza canopy for day stall tables, demonstration areas and events with roughly 30,000 square feet of new public open space.
“I have been waiting, it seems like forever,” said Sean Lakeside, manager at Pure Food Fish at Pike. Lakeside said the parking will only help business, but he did have reservations about the 200 new restaurants, shops and businesses that are expected to come with the expansion.
“I don’t know if it’s going to take away from us, but there’s going to be restaurants that sell fish or maybe canned salmon. Stuff like that,” he explained. “We’re into fresh fish and I know it’s going to be hard to do a shop like this anywhere else.”
The expansion is expected to draw more people and generate more dollars. Pike Place Market officials in their annual budget estimated more than a million dollar revenue bump in 2017 over 2016. Last year the market beat expectations bringing in $18.8 million, next year they were projecting $19.4 million dollars. But if the calculations based on 2016 hold up, they could be looking at more than $20 million dollars instead.
“Everyone gets a piece of the pie,” said Alex Amon, manager at Sound View Café. Amon said he’s been looking forward to the expansion to bring in more tourists and locals. “Once the market is bigger and more people come to the market, we’ll get our share of people coming to visit us,” he said.
Guhlke said she’s going to come back after the expansion. She's looking forward to seeing all the pieces come together. Especially, now that she knows where to park.