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The base of the new Rainier Square project. (NBBJ Rendering)

A new Amazon high-rise will feature a 20,000-square-foot grocery store, and in a surprise twist, it will not be a location for Whole Foods, the upscale grocer Amazon bought last year for $13.7 billion.

PCC Community Markets, a Seattle-based organic grocer that competes with Whole Foods locally, will open a store in the base of the $570 million Rainier Square project. Amazon last year leased 722,000 square feet of office space in the 58-story tower being developed by Wright Runstad & Co.

PCC said it is the first major grocer to put down roots downtown in more than a decade, and the store will be a flagship location. PCC says it is a community-owned organization, with more than 58,000 members in Seattle, and its website lists 12 additional stores around the Seattle area.

Despite Amazon’s ownership of Whole Foods, it does have an existing relationship with PCC. The grocer offers one-hour grocery delivery through Amazon Prime Now. 

Dropping a Whole Foods in the base of an Amazon office tower would have made sense for a number of reasons. The proximity would have made it easy to test out new products and initiatives. Plus, a so-called “Whole Paycheck” — the joke name for Whole Foods — in that spot would certainly have been frequented by Amazon employees, indirectly depositing their hard-earned dollars back into the coffers of the tech giant.

Wright Runstad representatives would not give further detail about the process for choosing the grocery tenant, other than saying other grocers were interested in the space.

In addition to the office tower for Amazon, the 1.17 million-square-foot project includes a total of 80,000 square feet of retail and 188 apartments on the upper floors of the building, which tapers off as it rises. Wright Runstad will also construct a separate hotel building on the block, starting later this year. All these buildings will share the block with the uniquely designed Rainier Tower, which sits on a pedestal.

Construction is already underway on the project, and it is set to open mid 2020.

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