Historic Strip of Belltown, Including Neon Boots and Lava Lounge, Is Back on the Chopping Block

Comments

1

Local businesses so beloved by patrons they cannot stay afloat.

2

Oh, this is an easy fix: just expand the Pike Place Market Historic District, and force the property owners to maintain those businesses forever.

That's how it works here, right? Rather than build apartments, we want to prioritize low-rise structures that folks enjoyed visiting in the early 90's. See, e.g., the Showbox.

3

Let it go.

4

Bulldoze them all.
Isn't that exactly what The Stranger has called for everywhere else? The Stranger calls NIMBY when describing Wallingford residents not wanting the same thing to happen in their neighborhood, but if its some place The Stranger likes, then no, we should preserve them.
You are hypocrites of the highest order. You suck.

5

A lovely old building with ancient plumbing, probably dangerous wiring and a structure that will collapse in the next big earthquake. Just because something is old does not make it valuable. Tear it down and provide safe, affordable housing in its place, that can house retail establishments at ground level.

6

I love the neighborhood but that block of buildings is an eyesore& won’t be missed.

7

All you fuckwits should move to Bellevue.The beautiful endless office park you seem to want to live in already exists there.

11

Hey all you progressive density at all cost twits: the capitalist reactionaries like @10 are with you! What excellent company you keep.

12

Good! Raze those shitholes to the ground! The roach/rat infested establishments/apts, the seedy scum and the fine folks who are tweaked out constantly, shaking together on corners of 2nd/3rd and Bell needed to be rid of a long time ago. Clean up Belltown!

15

@14 I could not give a flying fuck about landlords.

16

NUKE BELLTOWN!!!!!

18

"Capitalist reactionaries"

Classic rhetoric from someone who's parents are doctors or lawyers. The world will make a lot more sense to you when you're on the opposite side of 30 or you're going down a vortex you'll never recover from. Let's hope you didn't waste this time in your life on an arts or humanities degree. And if you're female or a sweet young male, don't take pills from the street kids you think are so cool.

Good luck in life, comrade.

19

@1 who said they were failing businesses?

If someone offers money to the land owner and they take it, that doesn't supply any information to how well the businesses were doing.

The funny thing about all this is that the drive for this housing is causing a regression in the demand for housing. Tearing down the "hot spots" reduces the appeal of the location. Guess they don't have any foresight.

20

Let's face it, the working-class Seattle of recent history is quickly fading into oblivion, and the new bosses are hell-bent on replacing it with the ticky-tacky shiny metal boxes preferred by the digi-gencia and their minions. History is irrelevant, anything older than yesterday is an anachronism, and even the slightest hint of blue-collar tarnish is an anathema to be eradicated from our collective institutional and cultural memory as quickly as possible. Only when the last unreinforced brick building is razed to the ground, the last dive bar or greasy-spoon diner is replaced by an upscale corporate-chain "gastropub", and anyone old enough to remember when this town wasn't the exclusive playground of the tech-bro elite has been driven out, will they feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Too bad, we probably all could have gotten along, if not for their pathological aversion to anything not-new or not-of-their-own-creation. Ah well, at least they'll still have the Market to look on as a sop to their condescending sense of civic largess - at least until they decide even that is too evocative of a past they neither knew nor cared about, and they eventually replace it with some bright, glittering bauble meant as a paean to their self-absorbed egos.

Will the last blue-collar working person leaving Seattle please turn out the lights? Oh, hell, why bother. By then they'll all have been replaced by $2,500 Siri-activated brushed aluminum full-spectrum LED floor lamps anyway.

21

Let's all pause and take another long look at that Denny Regrade photo. I mean holy fuck.

22

It’s fine to tear down beloved single-family homes in the name of density, but not dive-bars or music venues. Priorities, ya know.

23

I lived in Belltown long before Shorty’s opened; I live there again now. I walk down this block a couple of times a week.

This building offers us the same choice we had with the viaduct: tear it down, or watch it collapse (and likely kill people when it does). We seem to have made the right choice with the viaduct.

The city can negotiate with the redeveloper for retail spaces at sidewalk level, just as there are now: small storefronts whose relatively smaller rents make possible independently-owned places like the ones mentioned in the article. Keeps the neighborhood vibrant whilst offering modern homes to we who reside here.

24

"Local businesses so beloved by patrons they cannot stay afloat."

@1 what a dumb thing to say because that's not what's happening.

First, they've been in business waaaay longer than 99% of their peers that started at the same time. So to paint them as "unsuccessful" is disingenuous.

Second, it's the land owner that is putting them at risk. No some poor business decisions.

Third, how many beers and well drinks can you possible see in a small less-than-150 person capacity bar to keep up with he rapacious demands of greedy landlords 400% rent increases? Landlords who were always going to see the land anyway.

Look, no small business can last forever and cities change. It happens.

But Seattle's gentrification is driving hundreds of small once very sustainable long-standing businesses under — businesses that cater more to the working class - and replacing them with much less sustainable businesses that either cater to the rich or are generic corporate chains that pull up stakes once they drain easy revenue.

If you all can't see how that ruins cities then you just have not lived anywhere worthwhile and used to barren shit holes.

25

see = sell

26

@23 I'm pretty sure there are other alternatives. Like for instance a landmarks/historical preservation policy with actual teeth. Incentivize preservation (like with tax credits), disincentivize rapacious developers (like by simply not allowing them to do as they please). Works for many cities in more civilized countries.

@18 Ha ha! You are about as way the fuck off as it is possible to get. Wait, is this yet another new handle for the knockwurst jackass?

27

@26

So you're choosing to go down the vortex. Sad. Oh well, when I'm stepping over you on the sidewalk, just remember it was your own choices that led you there. Or your white privilege will save you only serving to make you more bitter.

28

What was left out of the article is that Shorty's and Rocco's decided to leave a long time ago because they don't want to work with the current slumlord/ landlord anymore.

29

@27:

Here's hoping you receive a good, swift kick in the groin (I would say nuts, but clearly you lack those) the next time you step over someone lying on the sidewalk.

30

Some old buildings are worth saving.
But the Wayne apartment building is not one of them. ( I know someone who rented there for years.) It's a firetrap- good grief it's a wooden structure built in 1890!

31

Geriatric Hipster Whiplash strikes again!

There they are, urbanist and pro-density right up to the moment it threatens a shitty bar the 50-somethings had fun in when they were 20-somethings, and SNAP, instant NIMBY (Not In My Bygone Youth).

It can't be cured, of course, but at least the symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medication.

32

I came to Seattle in the mid-80s and she was then a mysterious wench. It was love at first sight. Almost all of my old haunts are gone now. I hardly recognize the city. Oh wait...I do. It's Dallas! It's what happens when word gets out how snappy and wonderful a city is. They come and ruin her. I think I saw the writing on the wall when My Little Susie's Oriental Lounge became a $100 Argentinean steakhouse back in the late 90s. If dear old Belltown is chocked-full of some of the people in these comments, I'm glad I don't live there anymore.

33

Were these crappy old buildings hated for their modernity when they replaced the wooden tenements or first generation shotgun shacks? Or were the citizens proud and relieved to see something superior in form and design and materials go up in a bedraggled part of town?

34

This is nothing less than American Pathological Ahistoricity writ large.

Enjoy your context-free future, you artless, beef-witted canker-blossoms. All twelve years or so we have left.

35

@33:

Back when the Denny regrade was created by literally fire-hosing Denny Hill into Elliott Bay (it's called "history", look it up) there was plenty of room to build up the new without having to completely decimate the old. And based on the designs of the current crop of hamster-box habitats going up around here, I seriously doubt any of them will last for 100 years - or even close, given some of the ones that went up in my neighborhood less than two years ago are already requiring repairs - like the still functional early 20th Century Craftsman homes that were destroyed to make room for them.

36

This is pretty much the only block worth spending any time on in Belltown. Of course it's going to be torn down. I think it's about time to get out of town, because I barely recognize this place anymore.

37

10 says pure truth. You might not like it. But, it is true.

38

@26: “I'm pretty sure there are other alternatives.“

Like what? Saving that sorry old building? How much money do you think it would take to retrofit that sagging brickpile to modern code? Why even bother? Tear it down, rebuild with modern construction, and negotiate to get small retail spaces. Same street, less hazard.

Slap all the historical designations upon it that you like, and Mother Nature will knock it down just the same. Maybe there will even be some working-class people inside it when it falls. That would show your actual concern for them really, really well.

39

@38 I don't know ace. Seems like there are city centers across Europe full of buildings that have been standing for 300 years or more. I have no knowledge about this particular structure but you sound like a philistine.

40

@38

Seattle SDCI currently lists roughly 1,000 un-reinforced masonry buildings within the city limits (http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/SDCI/Codes/ChangesToCodes/UnreinforcedMasonry/ConfirmedURMList.pdf) and rates their structural stability anywhere from "Medium Risk" (buildings of up to three stories on good soil areas) to "Critical Risk" (schools and emergency shelters), all of which require some level of seismic retrofitting to bring them up to current code. Your suggestion is, apparently, to raze the lot of them: every apartment building, school, church, commercial space, and mixed-use building and build, Build, BUILD! I - and I presume the City - would just LOVE to see your plan for how that can be accomplished in a reasonable time-frame and cost without displacing tens of thousands of residents, thousands of businesses, and creating economic and civic havoc in its wake.

Just because something is old doesn't mean it doesn't have value, and just because something is in need of repair doesn't mean you should toss it in the proverbial dumpster. That's the sort of thoughtless, unrestrained consumerism that has gotten us into the world-wide ecological disaster we're currently facing, and no amount of modern, shiny, newness is going to fix it - quite the opposite, in fact.

41

@40: Yeah, you're right. If we can't start replacing every last one on the list tomorrow, we should just do nothing while this one falls down. That's a great plan. (Logic, how does it work?)

"Just because something is old doesn't mean it doesn't have value, and just because something is in need of repair doesn't mean you should toss it in the proverbial dumpster."

Not all of the buildings on your list are anywhere near the state of disrepair this one suffers, you know. Some are residences into which I considered moving, until I saw they were on that list.

So, since Rhizome immediately bailed on this question in favor of name-calling, I'll put it to you: how much money do you think it will take to bring this building up to modern code? How do you justify that cost against the option of completely re-building to current code?

Looking forward to a better answer than he gave. (The bar, it is low...)

42

For years, I have looked at those apartments and wondered how they could exist. It is cool to know more about them. To all the angry modernists on this thread, I was fantasizing about crushing some brand new building that you love, but the I realized you probably won’t admit to loving anything. Do I love those low slung bars and the creepy apartments lurking above them? I do. It is a seedy, adult playground that kind of has to exist in disrepair. The original developers of the bland commercial buildings might even be surprised at how long their structures endured. Yet, if I had a guest come from out of town, this strip would be a mandatory visit for a Belltown tour. It shows Seattle’s debauched, imaginative, dark and funny aspects. Bulldoze it, if we must. The shiny, unaffordable future awaits us. Forgive a few of us sentimental bastards for our silly reveries.

43

It's always nice to have validation, but in these crazy times I'm glad to see the readership has the same opinion as me: these buildings are outdated, cheap, accidents-waiting-to-happen eyesores, full of rust and faulty everything that will fall down if too many people sneeze too hard. Freehold moved out of here to a modern space, so they don't have to breathe asbestos or get shocked when a light's turned off. What is the attachment to these shacks? They should've been knocked down years ago.

44

@43: “What is the attachment to these shacks?“

@31 nailed it. (Also re-tasked an acronym perfectly. Bravo, sir!)

45

An obvious solution to keeping some of the small businesses in the area would be to require, as a condition of building the new high-rise apartments, that rents for the street-level retail be kept low (like the requirement that new development include lower-cost housing or else pay mitigation $$).

As an aside, the fact that the area keeps getting referred to as "Belltown" rather than the "Regrade" suggests that those commenting here go back no further than the late 80s. At least no one has fucking said "Emerald City."

46

@45

That does nothing to ensure small business presence; you'd just end up with big businesses taking advantage of the low rents to boost their profits.*

It takes something a lot more draconian to prevent big, profitable businesses from crowding out small or new ones, and ensure a good mix of businesses (so you don't end up with a street lined with vape supply, cell phone, and payday loan shops). Something like the Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority, which prohibits chain stores (unless your store in the Market was your first-- the Starbucks exemption) and won't let you open a shop that sells T-Shirts.

This has also been an issue historically with rent control in US cities-- a lot of the controlled units end up being occupied long-term by people who can easily afford market-rate housing.

47

@46: The requirement against chain stores can be negotiated into the redevelopment deal as well. Don’t be thick.

And, as mentioned above, Shorty’s is already going to relocate, a whopping one block up Second Avenue from the building under question. (Also as noted above, that little fact was omitted because it didn’t fit the narrative.)