A Town Center Like No Other

Look east down the under-construction Market Street in Seabrook, Washington, and you’ll see the community’s Town Hall. Look west and there’s the Pacific Ocean. In the middle will be a shopping experience unparalleled on the Washington Coast.

Shops and restaurants have joined and grown up with Seabrook since its founding in 2004. Now, Seabrook has matured to the point where it’s more than ready for Market Street – the shopping and dining center envisioned in the original town plan. In addition, the new South of Market (SOMA) neighborhood will provide residents and guests with homes just steps away, with ocean and nature views.

The center of town

Seabrook has taken a deliberate approach to finding the right businesses and helping them succeed. Retailers chosen to provide valued experiences that complement each other, rather than competing. Sweet Life ice cream parlor and candy store started with an ice cream cart; Frontager's Pizza Co. with a truck. The Salty Dog, which features products for dogs and their people, moved from a temporary “incubator” building to a permanent brick home.

“We’re basically growing these businesses organically, so they don’t have to take on too much debt or too much risk,” Seabrook founder Casey Roloff says.

The merchants are local – many live at Seabrook. Two couples consist of people who each run a business. Merchants and Seabrook team members have children in the community. There’s a Montessori school, which Roloff’s kids attend. On a recent Friday evening, the couple that owns Rusty Anchor Fitness and Red Velvet Bakery… by the Sea dined with the kids at Frontager’s Pizza.

Betsy Bolton moved to Seabrook in 2013 to escape the corporate life. She opened The Stowaway, a wine bar and cheese shop, the following year.

“I felt like I needed to be more present in my own life,” she says. “I needed to reinvent myself.”

Sweet Life owner Jane Willis has owned a home in Seabrook for nine years, operated an ice cream truck for the past two summers and opened her physical shop in June.

“Even with just us opening and pizza next door, we’ve seen such a jump in meeting our guests’ needs,” Willis says. “When people ask, it’s fun to talk about what’s coming.”

Seabrook homeowners and visitors have been asking for more retail. This is particularly important to the growing number of full-time residents.

“People want more to do – more shops, more restaurants,” Roloff acknowledges. “We are overdue.”

Market Street will take the old-town retail experience to the next level, bringing the town center to about 50,000 square feet of commercial space. Eight two- and three-story townhouses in the center of Market will have storefronts along the street, with homes above. Balconies on south-facing homes will overlook the street scene and provide ocean views. Bay windows across Market will bring in light and provide character. The architecture is inspired by great towns along the coast from Washington to California, including La Conner, Port Townsend, Oysterville, Cannon Beach, Carmel and Mendocino. Seabrook will sell the townhomes, then lease back the retail spaces and bring in merchants.

In 2018, Market Street will come alive with new shops and restaurants. Uses in discussion include barbecue and high-end seafood restaurants, a vintage arcade, a bookstore, an outdoor outfitter with equipment rentals, an ice cream parlor, a juice bar, a women’s boutique and a new permanent home for the community’s market.

A hill and gentle curve will provide ocean views deep into the street. A green strip in the center of the western section of Market Street will include places where visitors can sit and look out over the ocean.

“We expect this to become the most scenic main street experience in the Northwest,” Roloff says.

Market Street will aid in establishing Seabrook as a true town in the eyes of visitors, Bolton says. “It’s going to help everybody feel like there’s more to come here for, there’s more to be a part of.”

A new urban neighborhood

South of Market will be an “urban” neighborhood, with 35 single-family homes, growing up beside Market Street. While being right beside Market Street, the homes will have strong links to nature. Those on the west side of SOMA will look out over the ocean, and those to the east will nestle along a green conservation area, with back decks facing nature and front porches along the street. A trail will put the beach a quick walk away.

A new Town Green at the southern edge of the neighborhood will feature ocean views, a lawn, fire pit, woodshed, seating areas, pickleball court and Pacific Northwest nature-inspired adventure playground. The park will serve SOMA residents and visitors to town, and host festivals, concerts, weddings and other events, plus being a great place for impromptu picnics and other gatherings.

Ten stately homes will overlook the park. Taller houses to the west will provide ocean views above Seabrook’s Elk Creek neighborhood (across the road). More moderately sized homes to the east will look across the conservation area to the Mill District. Some of the houses will have true master suites on the main level – something that older residents and guests, and people with older relatives, have been requesting.

The first phase of SOMA features 10 homes of 1,040 to approximately 2,250 square feet – two to four bedrooms – priced from the $500,000s through the high $700,000s.

A planned town

Everything about Seabrook is thought out, designed to create an experience that captures what worked about towns for centuries – before cars took over. Streets are narrow, corners are tight, lighting is scaled for pedestrians. As a result, people drive to Seabrook, slow down when they get there and leave the car parked. Children roam on foot and bicycle, heading to a park to play or to the sweet shop for candy and ice cream.

Seabrook’s two central streets – Seabrook Avenue and Market Street – were positioned to line up with unbuildable bluff areas across the Hidden Coast Scenic Byway, providing protected ocean views from the streets. Compelling elements – Town Hall, grand homes with cupolas, parks, the ocean – are at the ends of streets, either straight on or at an angle, linking streets at corners. Beyond the visual interest, this helps orient people within the community.
With the construction of Market Street and SOMA, Seabrook will have three connections to the byway, reinforcing its identity as a real town that is open to visitors, rather than a gated resort. “People should feel comfortable coming into Seabrook,” says Stephen Poulakos, the director of town development.

The community transitions from urban closest to the byway to rural at the outskirts. Sidewalks and homes with front stoops near the center of town give way to paths and porches in the Farm District, which is still a short walk from the retail area. Homes range from walk-in cabins to $1-million-plus showpieces on the bluff above the beach, and even these have publicly accessible paths in front of them. Parks, fire pits and other gathering places are spread out around the community.

Roloff leads regular tours through Seabrook, pointing out how tenets of New Urbanism – pedestrian focus, a mix of uses and housing types, a transition from dense to rural – play out in the community. About 30 people joined him on a recent Saturday morning.

As Seabrook has grown, more people have made it their full-time home, or are planning to do so. This includes retirees, empty nesters and telecommuting tech workers.

Market Street and SOMA represent a major milestone in the development of what’s already a premier community just two and a half hours from Seattle, with no ferries or mountain passes.

“The closest great beach town is us,” Poulakos says. “It’s an easy weekend.”