Community Post

Future of Philly Cheese Steak Site

23rd and Union again…

An acquaintance of mine is considering using the Philly Cheese Steak site to start a bi-lingual childcare center (spanish/english). She hopes to re-do the site, (keeping the same building). add a playground outside, and provide childcare during the week (and let the church next door use it on Sundays).

At first, I had misgivings — but as I think about it, I think it could be really positive for the neighborhood, and it certainly beats having some other tenant in the building (e.g, like a KFC or other fast-food, which the owner is considering.) I know that if she does it, she will need help from the surrounding community in very concrete ways like help constructing the play equipment etc.

Is this something the community would support and get behind? What do you think?

0 thoughts on “Future of Philly Cheese Steak Site

  1. First reaction is that the neighborhood would be better off with a thriving business at that site. But if that business is going to be a KFC, then I vote daycare.

    Setting aside the interests of the neighborhood for moment, some advice for you acquaintence: if I were starting a daycare, that would probably be the last place I’d pick. The building isn’t in anyway set up for it, nor is the location at the intersection of two busy streets especially appealing to parents. Surely there are some better spots in the Central District available.

  2. I agree with seandr that that might be one of the worst locations in the CD for a day care. I also agree that the building in and of itself does not seem like a good set-up for a day care. This is not something I would likely support.

  3. child care facilities can take on all shapes and sizes, but you’d need to cordon off a ton of space in the back with fencing and what not for any play area to be viable (at least for sane parents)

    if they are thinking KFC or other fast food, how do we pressure them not to go that route. I remember a neighborhood in portland that fought tooth and nail to keep the golden arches out of their area and did it successfully.

    if KFC or the Arches goes in, it’s one step forward, two steps back.

  4. Communities used to fight chain restaurants by restricting their signage allotments. In this case, I’d worry those restrictions would deter any chain pharmacies or grocers from developing the kitty-corner lot.

    Someone should open a big-chain coffee shop with a drive-through in that location.

  5. Can we petition to get a Starbucks there? Say what you will about the chain and their coffee, they do provide a nice meeting place for the community and overall are a positive influence.

    Day care sounds like a real stretch for that location to me..

  6. My first reaction was EXCELLENT! There is a TRUE and SERIOUS shortage of childcare centers (says a mother of 2) and a bi-lingual center would be a fantastic addition to the community. I think it’s actually a great thing to put on that corner as far as a business goes, I doubt drug-dealers etc would find very many customers there.
    HOWEVER… seandr has an incredibly valid point – that is quite possibly the worst place for a daycare. With all the traffic and lack of green space, it’s pretty tough to access unless you’re driving west on Union. Great idea, but maybe if it was at least in the spot of the key bank or something, just a bit away from 23rd, that would be better.
    Keep us updated – it’s an interesting idea, but the site would really need some work for it to be viable. (you’d almost need to wall it off or something…)

  7. OK I’m all for a coffee shop in the neighborhood to congregate at (I miss Dilettante!), but a Starbucks? Seriously? That’s just as bad as a KFC. Not only is their coffee is horrible, but I’m sick and tired of seeing them put all the little guys out of business. How about an independent shop or at least a smaller chain like Cafe Ladro or even Tullys?

    As far as the bilingual daycare, I would LOVE to see one open in the neighborhood (or any new daycare for that matter). As a new mother of a 3 month old (and unable to find any daycare in Seattle without a 2 year waitlist!), I would be the first one to sign up. But I agree with the others, there must be better locations in the CD than 23rd & Union. Tell your friend to keep looking and keep the community posted. They have my support.

  8. I agree a Day Care Center would be very challenged at that location. But, maybe there could be SOME way to reconfigure the lot?

    I tend to like unique local non-chain type businesses. I especially would like service oriented or community gathering oriented businesses. That is why something like day care seems initially so attractive. What about another branch of a small coffee shop that is child friendly? Do we want something that is open into the evening that attracts neighborhood residents?

    However, and this is a biggy that some will object to. Other than signage issues, and being sure to not end up looking like a suburban strip mall, there ARE some franchisers that give a local business person the opportunity to get established. They also enforce quality standards. Something to consider instead of just a knee jerk anti-chain reaction.

  9. There’s a common misconception that *$’s causes the little guys to go out of business. If that is the case why does Seattle have so many independent shops? If anything they tend to create markets, as they have in other cities by introducing espresso.. think of it as the gateway drug for many. :)

    This has been covered numerous times by a few, but most recently by Slate late last year:>

    Don’t get me wrong, I would far prefer a Ladro, Vivace, shoot even Stumptown, but you have to be realistic as well. Those business are really small and wouldn’t have the capitol, desire or courage to put a place on 23rd and Union. I think it’s even a stretch for Starbucks, but I don’t see it as an impossibility.

    Large company does not necessarily equate bad, you have to look farther than that. Starbucks has to be commended on many different fronts for the good they have brought to communities and how they have given back.

    No I don’t work for them, don’t own stock, and don’t know anybody who does either, but I do feel they get a worse wrap than they deserve. I can think of other places in the neighborhood that serve worse coffee.

  10. I liked the food there. Now that Stans on Rainier is gone there are not that many local places like the cheesesteak place to go and get your grease fix (I can hear the vegans groaning).

  11. I just wanted to check in on the thread again.

    FWIW, I take my son a downtown daycare that has very little outdoor space. I really see that as the big issue for a daycare in that location.

    I think it would be fantastic to have a corner with a daycare on one corner, a cop-shop on another, some interesting retail in the new development kitty corner. Plant some trees, green up the place, and slow the traffic down. It’s a long wish list but I can dream!

  12. Ok I don’t get the Slate article as a Starbuck’s defense. It actually states Starbucks is trying to be ruthless but they are just bad at it. So bad in fact they have the reverse effect by accident, not by design. The article does actually mention some of their unsuccessful tactics that are really only available to a company with a lot of resources.

    Since there are a few coffee shops only a few blocks away, it’s safe to realistically say an independent coffee shop could do fine there and they don’t lack courage, capital or desire. Thankfully this is the case cause I think Starbuck’s is near the bottom in coffee quality. But since at least one of the other shops (probably both) are owned by locals maybe a Starbucks and their unsuccessful competition killing campaigns would help them out.

  13. If there really is a KFC going in there, perhaps we could enlist Ezell’s in the fight. Just seems wrong to put a fast-food chain chicken restaurant just down the road from a neighborhood institution.

  14. The property is owned (I believe) by Chester Dorsey. Jim Mueller (developer of the empty Coleman site kitty corner from it) is cleary interested in developing the whole area. So the building is probably not long for this world, and hence probably won’t be of interest to a big chain, be it Starbucks or KFC.

    It should be a good starting off place for a new business, which can hope to establish itself and then move “up” in the world when development occurs ( 3 – 5 years?). Agreed: daycare would be problematic – would you want you kid playing outside on oily blacktop (not to mention the issues of people hanging out nearby)?

    An indie coffee shop? But there’s one 2 blocks west. The site surely gets a lot of traffic commuting to the U-DUB and 520: a donut or sandwich shop should do a good trade from commuters and locals.

  15. I wish all four corners could be upgraded– there is so much potential there but all we have is the gas station, shot-up restaurant, toxic waste dump and a scary mini-plaza. Maybe a developer can come in with residential units and retail that would benefit us all.

  16. Assuming Jim Mueller gets his contract rezone, we’ll have a 6-story building with ground-floor retail on the southwest corner in another year or two (I don’t know his construction time frame). That’ll be a big help.

    the last thing in the world we need is another auto-oriented business where the cheese steak shop was. Much of their traffic arrived on foot, despite their parking lot, because they were more of a local phenomenon – a big chain like Starbuck’s (who have a store at 23rd/Jackson that caused them a lot of community grief) or McDonald’s would be far more auto-dependent, and I don’t think that’s going to help that corner. I’d rather see Jim or someone else buy the land from Dorsey and build something that would actually help create the corner as an urban center, not a strip mall.

  17. A daycare center should be the last thing to go there. To put daycare there it would probably look like some horrible fortress type place since the kids need to be protected. And KFC, please!! After the bums and drug addicts and dealers do there crack and meth they’ll be ready for some greasy fried chicken. A nice coffee cafe would be nice since the few independent ones in the area don’t stay open late enough.