Community Post

Big Changes at Old Dilettante Space

I just went for a walk and got some more information about the former Dilettante store at 23rd and Cherry, right near Garfield High School and the Community Center. Work there has been going on for the past couple of weeks, and it’s had plenty of people in the area wondering what might be moving in.

I talked with Jim Barger today, who’s heading up the project. He’s with Greenleaf Construction, a local company that prides itself on “green” construction (, especially in Seattle’s urban neighborhoods. Jim says they’re excited about the potential of the 4,000-square foot building, which can be parcelled off for up to three businesses. They would like a retail shop or possibly two to set up there. So far there are no tenants signed on.

Jim says part of the problem has been that the space was so dark and dingy that prospective clients couldn’t visualize the potential. Workers are now opening the place up and adding light and renovations to dramatically improve the appearance. A restaurant nearly agreed to move in, but when the deadly shooting happened a few months ago at the Philly Cheesesteak restaurant down at 23rd and Union, he says the eatery got cold feet and backed off. A non-profit has also showed some interest.

Jim says he’s hopeful that this “prime real estate” will find the tenants it deserves, especially with all the improvements at the high school and area in general. Also: Keep close watch on the exterior. They say want to keep the architecture of the building in tact, and find ways to minimize all the “tagging” that goes on.

I’ll keep tabs on what’s next. And cross our fingers for a cool espresso joint!

0 thoughts on “Big Changes at Old Dilettante Space

  1. The biggest problem that location has is that both 23rd and cherry are completely non-pedestrian friendly. Restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, etc. tend to thrive in areas where there is lots and lots of foot traffic (ie. broadway, madison park, fremont, etc.). 23rd is an auto hell hole, and the lack of foot traffic means that businesses like the Dilettante struggle to survive. Its nice to see buildings including this one and the one on the corner of Marion and 23rd being renovated, but I don’t hold much hope for businesses in those buildings when crossing the street is akin to a suicidal tendency.

  2. Not specifically, though he did say they want to keep the exterior appearance in tact as much as possible. They’re doing work on the outside today, and there’s no indication more tiles are coming down. I think the other tiles that did come off were to make a little more room for some of the improvements. When he and I talk again, I’ll address that headon.

  3. It’d be a lot different if they went ahead with that road diet that’s being discussed! (re-stripe to 3 lane section with one lane in each direction and a center 2-way left-turn lane, and bike lanes in each direction)

  4. I also spoke with Jim a few months ago and he told me similar information. But this morning I talked to a guy who works for him (he was cutting out the window holes in the picture above) and he said that he thinks they sold the space (or maybe he meant leased it) to someone yesterday, so it’s up in the air what will go in there.

    Jim mentioned that the location was difficult in terms of access, so they were planning on putting parking spaces in the lot to the East, right between the apartments/storage and the building.

    I’m really hopeful that this space can be used by local business owners and used to benefit all members of the community, especially youth. I too would love a coffee shop, but I’d like it to be more neighborhood friendly – like Cafe Vega on Yesler.

  5. Did the old Dilettante lose its lease? Did it move somewhere else? Was it the original factory?

  6. We live across the street from Garfield on 25th and the last time I asked when the (endless) construction would be finished they said that enough of it would be done by the time school starts in September so the students can come back, but they won’t actually finish construction until the end of that month. We are looking forward to the end of the dust bowl!

  7. Back when it closed I heard that it was consolidating the Central Area location with its plant and store in Kent.

  8. Is the road diet really being discussed or just on this board? I’ve yet to hear a case in which they have actually done it, although it is rumored that they pulled it off on Rainier near Renton.

    on the non-profit, i know the ED and they were looking at that spot, but went with something further down 23rd.

  9. It’s in the city’s bicycle master plan that the city council adopted last year. I believe a study is to be conducted in the next year to year and a half or so to finalize whether the proposal is “feasible.” According to the bicycle master plan, the road diet on 23rd was planned to be completed within the first 5 years of the plans implementation. So we’ll see.

  10. Specifically what is a “road diet”, what does that mean? Who has more info on this?

  11. It’s reducing the number of driving lanes on a road, with a number of possible configurations (bikes, etc.). There are a number of articles about it on this web site – back in early January and maybe December – go to Stories – All and start at about page 10 and look for several of them.

  12. And yes, Elvis, a whole chunk of Rainier from north of Renton all the way up to Rainier Beach has a very successful road diet. Stone Way from Green Lake down to 34th in Fremont was the most recent road diet battle, one that the pedestrians and cyclists and neighbors eventually won, and it is now a much more pleasant street than it was before.

    And as csw says, the idea of a “road diet” is to take some of the road width away from motorized vehicles. Providing a 2-way left-turn lane is a safety improvement, and allowing space on the sides of the road for bicycles or street parking or other things. In some cases (not any in Seattle I can think of) cities have even expanded sidewalk space in the process.

    I’ll say that getting a road diet on 23rd will be a big battle, and the neighborhoods will have to work really hard to overcome the car bias at SDOT. Having said that, I absolutely agree that much of the burden on our neighborhood retail establishments comes from trying to accommodate cars rather than pedestrians and cyclists, and the more we can encourage the latter modes the easier we’ll make it for small businesses to survive and thrive in the CD.

  13. Hi,

    Im really interested in connecting with other people regarding proposing a road diet on Cherry St. I am a local property owner and I am considering retaining some traffic engineer’s to write up a proposal for the city. Please contact me at [email protected] or at 669-6993. I would be especially interested in talking with anyone who works for the City of Seattle or who is involved in the Central Area neighborhood plan.