Fife grocery on the way

Artists rendering of a Fife grocery, fuel and convenience store complex being built near Exit 137, off Interstate 5.  (Marine View Ventures)
Artists rendering of a Fife grocery, fuel and convenience store complex being built near Exit 137, off Interstate 5. (Marine View Ventures)

In Fife, the long wait for a grocery store will soon be over.

By next spring, Marine View Ventures will open a six-acre combined grocery-fuel-convenience store complex along Pacific Highway South just beyond the Emerald Queen Casino.

Marine View Ventures is a commercial arm of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, which owns the land – formerly the site of an RV dealership.

“Site work has begun, and we expect to be open in March or April of next year,” said CEO Jamey Balousek on Monday.

When completed, the complex will offer:

A 12,000-square-foot market comprising sales areas for groceries, including fresh produce and packaged meats; plus tobacco, beer and wine, with the possibility of liquor sales to follow.

12 two-sided gas pumps, for a total of 24 outlets contained beneath a pair of canopied bays. The company continues to negotiate with a gasoline brand, and already operates one Chevron and three Shell stations in the South Sound.

87 parking stalls.

A coffee kiosk.

A drive-through car wash station .

“It’s more than a convenience store,” Balousek said. “We think of it more as a market.”

The market will offer “a lot of the staples we expect to have, including a variety of produce,” he said. “We also think there’s an opportunity for nice lunches-to-go, meals-to-go, salads and sandwiches.”

Marine View Ventures will collect state sales tax on some of the eligible items sold at the facility, said general counsel Kelly Croman. Taxes will be collected from non-tribal customers as required by agreements made with the state.

The complex is located within the boundary of the Puyallup tribal reservation on what is called “fee” land. The tribe is in the process of applying to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to change the status of the property to “trust” land.

Steve Worthington, Fife city manager, said Monday that the project “will do a lot to address the primary needs of the community. We very much appreciate their efforts.”

Fife has been without a major grocery store for several years, Worthington said, and city officials during that time have sought a store developer. “The challenge has been – we just do not have the number of ‘rooftops’ for larger operators.”

If the land is put into trust status, he said, the city would lose the ability to collect city sales tax on items sold.

“We would lose the sales tax, but we gain the synergy, the economic force in the community that it brings.”

Worthington said the city may contract with Marine View Ventures for the provision of fuel for city-owned vehicles.

Herman Dillon, Puyallup tribal chairman, said Monday that he believes the project will offer mutual benefit for both local and tribal governments.

“It will be good for the tribe as well as the surrounding community,” he said.

For the tribe, he said, “it’s diversification. That’s been our plan all along. Who knows how long gaming will last?”