Mystery retailer to build big store

SMOKEY POINT – A Tacoma-based developer has submitted plans for a retail store and gas station on the same scale as a Wal-Mart supercenter to be built on 172nd Street NE near I-5.

Cliff Strong, Arlington’s city planning manager, said the application for a store of just under 204,000 square feet came in earlier this month.

The name that would grace the proposed development is a well-kept secret, even from city officials.

“They just haven’t put anything in writing,” Strong said.

Drawings of the proposed storefront and signs simply say “store.”

Pacific Northwest Developments, a subsidiary of Tacoma’s David Evans and Associates, is the applicant. A representative did not return calls from The Herald.

Most of 25-acre site, lying to the west of 43rd Avenue NE, is owned by Arlington developer Brent McKinley’s Vine Street Group. McKinley’s firm also is spearheading a proposed zone change in Stanwood that would allow the construction of Wal-Mart and other big-box stores there as well.

McKinley also did not return calls this week.

The application with the city calls for a store carrying general merchandise and groceries. It also would include a pharmacy, garden shop and tire center.

While many rumors are circulating as to who might occupy the store, its size is common for new Wal-Mart supercenters.

Other retailers rumored to be the main occupant, including Fred Meyer and Costco, typically build stores of 125,000 to 175,000 square feet. Wal-Mart’s warehouse shopping stores, operated as Sam’s Clubs, usually are no larger than 130,000 square feet, according to Wal-Mart.

Renderings of the store’s appearance show wood accents, awnings and muted colors not usually associated with big-box stores.

However, Wal-Mart is among the national chains that have begun to customize the appearance of stores in different regions. Wal-Mart’s Puget Sound area spokesman did not return calls on Tuesday.

Strong said the site along 172nd Street is zoned for highway commercial use, but because of its size there could be a public hearing on the proposed development.

Bill Kinney, vice president of the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce, said he heard the rumor that the new store might be a Costco.

“But that’s all I’ve heard so far,” he said.

Reporter Eric Fetters: 425-339-3453 or

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