Reader view: Waiting for the light rail — and a grocery store

Roger’s Marketplace on 56th Avenue West in Mountlake Terrace prior to its closure.

Grocery stores are vital to communities and desirable in high-density areas for several reasons:

Folks purchase food to cook home meals or for grab-and-go style if time is limited. This is a place of visual pleasure — consider the color palette of fruit and vegetable displays. We find nourishment here, run into neighbors  and friends. It’s where our elders, living independently, go for exercise, mental and social fulfillment. It’s where we spend money! It can be walking distance (at least shorter drives) for high- density living areas where car parking is nonexistent, costly or difficult to find spaces on street — making “walkability” for food important and desirable.

They paved the Roger’s Marketplace store and put up a parking lot! Our city leaders assured us of a grocery store following the closure of Roger’s four years ago. During the interim we’ve  watched numerous three-story condominiums (costly!) and several high-density apartment buildings (I count six, not including Shag on 244th) growing up around us, adding 2,000 to 3,000 mouths to feed (not counting pets).

Several more high-rise buildings are in the planning, and we ask “where will the grocery store be?”

This we know:Decisions have already been made, and we residents have not sufficiently made our wishes known.

We’ve learned from Mountlake Terrace City Councilmembers that anything big (examples: light rail, tall buildings with many apartments, redesign of parks and creeks, street tree planting, etc.) requires decades of “foresight” (planning for things before they happen) as well as garnering funds for projects.

It’s important to get community input. Often, residents are unaware of city leadership’s and the planning commission’s vision of big plans.

If we are left out of the process, we could sometimes be unhappy with and non-supportive of city council’s decisions.

So, how can we residents help?

By using your voice and the power of the pen!

Without our voices and early involvement (regarding any city development processes) our city manager, council and planning commission are unaware of our concerns. Then sadly, the builders often do not meet community’s visions.

I repeat: It’s important for council to get community input.

We must all get involved in city happenings and participate in our government. Also, we want and need our younger generations to help make future decisions.

– First and third Mondays, city council meets at 7 p.m. Prior Thursday at 7 p.m is a “work/study session” for meetings.

– Second and fourth Mondays, 7 p.m, planning commission meets. (Already in progress are 2024 plans.)
– Contact City Manager Jeff Niten and/or city councilmembers with concerns, suggestions and solutions.

Here is the link to contact council:

For now, we wait for the Light Rail and the Grocery Store.

— By Lee Gresko on behalf of Team Grocery Store


  1. I was really hoping for a grocery store space in the new Mountlake Village development (former Rogers lot). Sadly, based on the developer’s draft plans, there are two ground level spaces (b/w 2000-3000 sq ft), and neither has nearly the amount of space to support a grocery store, or even a corner pharmacy with basic essentials. When is a developer going to come in that recognizes the potential of the neighborhood and takes the commercial aspect of their development seriously; not just city minimums.

  2. There are multiple grocery stores in MLT and around the area: Safeway, QFC, Thriftway, Winco and Fred Myers. Commercial development takes time, more time than this. Don’t make up problems.

    1. If one is without a vehicle I can guarantee you that not having a grocery store in the area where Rogers Market used to be is definitely NOT a made up problem. I have been living at a senior residence not far from the parking lot now occupying the former grocery store area and what a welcome change that would be. There’s no place within easy walking distance to buy milk, fresh fruit, or even a newspaper.

    2. I would be happy to be on Team Grocery Store. I have lived in central Terrace for 45 years. there is nothing in walking distance and one comment said there are multiple grocery stores. in Terrace. She is totally incorrect. THERE IS ONLY ONE!!!!! and it is in East Terrace. No Grocery Stores is a Big Problem.
      Yes, we must address these issues to City Council and tell them to not allow giant apartments without amenities.
      I think litter is problem. I do like the idea of small shops, but will people support it or just continue to purchase on line?

  3. While city leadership and the community could “want” a grocery store, there needs to be interest from a grocery chain to enter the market. This depends on nearby competition, cost to buy and build, as well as overhead. There is a lot of competition surrounding MLT, even if we dont have a store directly in MLT. Additionally chains like safeway are reducing redundant stores from acquisitions.
    I would prefer having artisan shops (i.e. bakery, produce market, space for a regular farmers markets all year etc). I love having DD for my meats and it would be nice to having small shops to pick up other things. Plus it would offer a unique experience for our community as opposed to the standard grocery which is available on the outskirts of town (south-thriftway, costco, north- old albertsons, fred meyer, west- safeway, winco)

  4. How great it would be to have a small fruit and produce store near the light rail station so people could just pop in to get food for the evening. Maybe a bakery too. Having small shops there in new apartment construction. Problem with stores in first level buildings is no parking so need foot traffic. We have D&D Meats, how about a produce stand in the same area so the residents around there can walk to it? I walk from my condo to the seasonal stand on 99 and 228th. Cannot carry much but a good walk.

  5. It’s a dilemma: you need more density for it to make business sense to open another store there, since regional car access is not the best. And yet, you need amenities like stores in walking distance for more people to want to live there. At any rate, having it sit there as an unused surface parking lot is just sad.

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