On December 11, the Seattle school district filed an objection with the Washington State Liquor Control Board against the Twilight Exit, a Central District bar that is being displaced from its current location at Madison Street and 22nd Avenue. The school district complained that the bar's proposed new location, on Cherry Street near 25th Avenue, would be "very close to Garfield High School." Under state law, school objections can veto liquor-license applications for bars within 500 feet of the "main entrance of the school." But the location of the new Twilight Exit is nearly 1,000 feet from Garfield's front doors.
Bar owner Stephan Mollmann was planning to move to the new location in early January. But the district's complaint could scotch those plans. "If there is an objection from a public school, under state law, we can't issue the license," says liquor board spokeswoman Anne Radford. The appeal process can take as long as nine months—and the Twilight Exit is losing its current building, which will be demolished for a new five-story apartment development.
"We are almost done remodeling, and I have sunk a lot of money into [the new bar]," Mollmann says. "In the worst-case situation, I would have to sell my house and find another spot" for the Twilight Exit.
This isn't the first time the school district has fought a Central District business. Over the last several years, the district has pressured at least two establishments—Lloyd's Rocket, near Gatzert Elementary School, and La Louisiana, at the site of the proposed Twilight Exit—into onerous "good neighbor agreements" that required the businesses to assume responsibility for activities outside their walls. (Neither establishment is still in business.) But as Seattle's neighborhoods become denser, the district has fallen out of step. Instead of fighting bars like the Twilight Exit—which made its stretch of Madison Street, near the notorious Deano's, safer—the district should be the good neighbor and quell its objections.
A spokesman for the school district couldn't explain why it objected to the bar in the first place. "We want to make sure the school and school community have a... discussion with the applicant before it proceeds," district spokesman David Tucker said.
Meanwhile, Mollmann says he can't get the district to return his calls.
Andrew Taylor, chair of the Miller Park Neighborhood Association and father of two Garfield graduates, says he never heard of any complaints about the Twilight Exit in its current location. "I can't imagine why there would be a problem with the Twilight in this [new] location," he says.