Shane Harms/ Ballard News-Tribune
Wilcox Construction is well underway at the site where Louie's Chinese Restaurant used to reside.

No one’s talking about alleged Amazon grocery drive thru in Ballard

Is Amazon opening a drive thru grocery store at the location where Louie’s Chinese Cuisine used to reside at 5100 15th Ave. N.W.? That was the suggestion in last week’s GeekWire article, and after investigating, the BNT still isn’t sure.

The GeekWire article reports that Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection documents reveal plans and permits for a 759-square-foot retail space described as “a new model of grocery shopping.”

Amazon is not mentioned in the plan which is named “Project X,” however the same architects, Ware Malcomb, who were used in planning the Amazon Bay area drive thru stores (also named “Project X” ) are listed in project documents.

Other SDCI documents reveal that there are plans for six drive-up parking spaces and nine other parking spaces for walk-in service. The spaces are said to be able to handle 99.7 percent of traffic anticipated at the store.

All SDCI documents confirmed GeekWire’s assertions, but the BNT looked further to the King County Tax Assessor’s office which lists Real Property Associates Inc. as the tax paying entity on the $2,248,600 lot.

A trusted commercial real estate advisor for the BNT revealed that some large companies like Amazon generally use real estate companies as holding entities for tax purposes, which would explain why Amazon is not listed on the public records documents.

Amazon copy
Plans for "Project X." City of Seattle.

“Managing a property is also very labor intensive and since Amazon is a retail company (giant) and not a real estate management company it makes sense they aren’t listed,” the advisor wrote to the BNT. “This is standard practice and not illegal.”

The Ballard News-Tribune called Gordon Stephenson, who is listed as President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Chairman of the Board, and Director of RPA on the Washington State Department of Revenue website, to find more details about the project. Stephenson did not respond to the questions left on his phone.

The BNT also emailed Jonathan Thomas, a listed architect with Ware Malcomb on the site plans, who also has not responded.

At the construction site, the Wilcox Construction team is well underway with the project. While photographing the site from the street, the BNT was asked a construction worker if he could comment on what’s going to be operating at the site.

“No, I can’t comment.”

GeekWire encountered the same resistance when they visited the site according to their article.

The BNT also reached out to Amazon for comment and they, too, have not responded.

Apparently these project organizers are adamant on retaining its secrecy.

Look to the Ballard News-Tribune as this story develops.

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