I had a chance to talk with Ron Rubin this afternoon over at the old Dilettante Chocolate space at 23rd and Cherry. He’s going to be the new owner of the property (the deal officially closes in a few weeks). He already owns that stretch of apartments and work/storage lofts next door along Cherry called Central Space. A real estate agent during most of his daytime hours, he’s got big plans for the overall area, which he wants branded with the Central Space name. (www.centralspace.com).
Ron says the Dilettante building is roughly 4,300 square feet, and that after plenty of work, he envisions four to five retail businesses going in. He’s nearly certain the former chocolate site will become — wait for it, wait for it — a new “higher end” coffee shop, though no tenant names are being mentioned yet. He wants at least an eatery or two to move into the other spots. He might even make one of the spaces his new office for Central Space. Plans are far from being finalized, but Ron says he likes the idea of even having a walk-up espresso counter on Cherry as part of the coffee shop, in addition to walking into the store. That could be cool. He also mentioned putting in an ATM machine outside the building (we’re reserving judgment on that).
He says it could be four to five months before we actually see any new businesses setting up shop. There’s still lots of renovation that needs to be done inside. Ron went out of his way to thank Jim Barger for selling him the property. I’ve talked with Jim before for a previous update on the Dilettante building. Ron says Jim, the owner of Greenleaf Construction, wanted to make sure that the changes would be for the benefit of the neighborhood. Definitely good to hear.
The Dilettante part of things is considered PHASE ONE. Ron says the second phase could truly transform the area. He likes the idea of revamping each of the garage-looking spaces that are currently rented out on a month-by-month basis to people with small businesses or hobbies and making them 300-square foot stores. A new marketplace, he says, that could become a regular destination point. Inside and outside would get big overhauls. (Ron says a recent trip to Thailand and the love of small storefronts there has inspired him.) He says PHASE TWO is another 5,000-square feet of retail space, making the total close to 10,0000-square feet for up to 16 businesses at 23rd and Cherry. Also, he says he’d like to begin lobbying the city to add a median to Cherry out front, and see angled parking in front of the stores instead of curbside.
I’ll stay in touch with Ron for new details about what’s going on in the coming weeks.
Ron stopped by our building (next to the apartments) last week and gave all of us a tour of the building. I have more pictures if I could only find a way to upload them without creating a new post.
Though Ron described similar plans to us he seemed very far from making any decisions. He seemed very interested in knowing what the greater community is interested in seeing there (after all, we will be the customers). He knows people want a coffee shop, but what else? I’m interested in hearing your ideas. Also, Ron told me to feel free and post his email address if anyone wants to give him some feedback. You can reach him at [email protected].
While many people in the community that have greater leverage and a greater voice are asking for “high scale” shops, it is important that underserved residents in our community be considered as well. For example, I know many people who rent units without washers and dryers would benefit greatly from another laundry facility, even if this isn’t the kind of “beautifying” business that some people are looking for.
How ’bout a small very basic hardware store? I still miss the one that used to be on East Union between 23rd and 22nd (across from Richlen’s) – it was tiny, but it always had the little thing I needed but didn’t want to drive three miles to buy a $5 item.
1. A small grocery with fresh produce, bread, and the food basics. No fortified beverages, funyuns, or smoking materials allowed (i.e., it’s the polar opposite of a convenience store)
2. A casual, inexpensive restaurant with decent breakfasts
3. A small gym, less than $50 a month, with free weights, cardio machines, and the occasional spinning class
I agree with scott’s #1 and #2. A small european/vancouver/asian style grocery and produce stall would be a tremendous boon.
Yes…please please somewhere to go for breakfast on the weekends! Plus, a flower stall similar to the ones in Pike Place market would be great.
The feedback is tremendous, please keep it coming. As “Makeba” mentioned I am truly interested in creating something that the neighbors want and need. Please dont hold back as anything is possible, the question to ask yourself is “If the corner between 23rd-24th and Cherry were perfect in every single way, how would it look and feel”. We can build it that way and they will come…
We have so many young kids in the neighborhood. I’d love for the coffee shop/restaurant to be “kid-friendly”.
It might be nice to have a small pub within a 5 minute walk where we could grab a beer or glass of wine at the end of a busy day. I’m thinking something of the scale and character of The Bottleneck.
Of course it would be an operational challenge for the owner to keep the street dealers and other troublemakers out.
Would anyone in the area be opposed to that idea?
I would love to see a small grocery (not convenience store) go in there. Also, there are lots of families with young children in the area and the neighborhood is crying out for more kid friendly options. Perhaps a small salon, as well?
Please buy Parnells! Either by yourself or with Mr. Mueller. I’m begging you, here…
See the Phinney Market, just north of the zoo, for a great example of a neighborhood market. They sell organic produce and dairy, NY Times, have a sandwich counter with panini, etc.
1.Breakfast spot that’s good for families.
2.Grocery store with fresh fruit, veggies,and breads.
3.Small gym or coffee shop.
Restaurant that serves breakfast is a great idea. I have heard the “statistic” that Seattle has some of the highest percentage of people who go out to breakfast, especially on the weekends. Have had my eye on the convience store down the street from me for that kind of conversion if the place would ever turn over… Would be great to have more options within walking distance. Good model would be like Geraldine’s Counter in Columbia City (maybe the owner would even be interested in an expansion site…)
Also like the organic small grocery store idea, possibly with sandwich counter. And of course coffee shop with walk up sounds like a winner too. Like the small hardware store idea too — a City Peoples would be ideal type, but I think they are not interested in expansion since they closed some of their shops several years ago when some of the parnters retired.
A great model overall may be 15th Ave between Harrision and Mercer streets. There is a really nice collection of small businesses/shops/restaurants along there which I have always enjoyed frequenting, especially when I lived within walking distance (Remedy Teas, Palermos, Video stores, 22 Doors, Victrola, Coastal Kitchen, Insurance Agent, Caffe Ladro, Vet, Jamjuree, Flower shop, Liberty, Olymia, Wine Shop, etc). Unfortunately Rainbow Grocery did close down, but it sounded like that had more to do with their management than customer base issue.
I agree with pretty much everything that’s already been mentioned – a good small neighborhood bar a la the Bottleneck would be fantastic. Street presence will be critical, and Ron, I think you’re right on to be looking at a median on Cherry and other things to slow traffic/beautify the street. The sidewalks are in decent shape and the street trees aren’t bad either. We should really push for some pedestrian-scale lighting, like what was done on Union, as well.
Could the grocery store have a popcorn machine? I’m a sucker for fresh-popped popcorn, and it’s a great snack when you’re out walking around.
And I absolutely agree with the kid-friendly comments. Designing for small children and seniors (not that we have a large number of the latter in the hood these days) means you get design that works well for everyone.
A place to walk to breakfast that didn’t mean going to Madrona would be fantastic.
Thinking more carefully about what kids, young adults, and the hip contingent in Seattle would really go for, I have to strongly suggest an arcade. Give people somewhere to put their extra quarters! This could be combined with a laundromat: think Roosevelt’s “Lost Sock” meets Capitol Hill’s former “High Score” arcade. It could be full of vintage pinball games or all the new electronic types. Alternatively, an arcade/coffee shop combo could work too. I know people will be afraid of the “riff-raff” that an arcade could attract, but as long as it were well-lit and supervised, it would be a tremendous gathering spot for all ages and textures of people.
As a tenant of one of the garage storage spaces right there on Cherry, I can vouch for the pedestrian traffic. Most days when I leave the door open, at least one or two people will stop by and ask a question or at least look in curiously.
The idea of a breakfast spot is stellar. The small grocery, not so much in my opinion. Safeway is less than 1 mile away, there’s more than one organic delivery service in the area, and I just can’t think of any successful examples.
How come no one’s mentioned adding an Ethopian restaurant?!
my wife and I are really excited at the prospect. Would love to see a breakfast place with coffee and baked goodies. A hardward store would be really keen too. Hey, how come no one has mentioned a good Pho restaurant? For those frequest cold weather days, I’d walk a few blocks to get a hot steaming bowl of soup. No more having to run down to the ID. :) thanks Ron!
Pinball, Wifi and laundry. Add some hot dogs like Coney Is in Belltown and I’m there!!
There is a reason that Cherry has 2 lanes in each direction. It’s Arterial. Medians and angled parking work great in Denver, but won’t work here. Traffic is beyond congested as it is. If the owner wants to lobby the city for something, how about getting the light rail line down 23rd put back the way it was before the city in their infinite wisdom ripped it all out. Instead of a median, run a rail line down the center of Cherry to connect downtown with the lake. As envisioned by our forefathers. Nothing says improvement like forward thinking transportation.
Frankly I don’t think a single solitary building should be built, or renovated for higher density in this city until the congestion and transportation crisis has been honestly addressed. All talk, no action. There is no point to having cool buildings and amenities, even parks, if they are not accessible. A true Seattle trademark.
This area is ripe for so many things. A gastro-pub would be fabulous: wonderful, reasonably priced food, local beers, maybe a fireplace and a garden/patio for outdoor seating too (what about that beautiful courtyard behind the garages?). I’d love a cozy little place for pho. A real bakery too would be great, where we could pick up a fresh baked baguette everyday, along with fabulous pastries and maybe a turkish coffee…. What about all day dim sum restaurant/Chinese bakery too?
I’d love to see a small tea house, an exotic yet inviting place for locals and others to drop in to sample green, pu erh or oolong teas traditionally prepared, like Ten Ren in San Fran or New Century in the ID (on Maynard). Any chance of getting an art supply store like the one near UW out here? Or a great restaurant retail spot like Travellers on Pine. What about a couple of stalls for local producers of flowers, veg, fruit, cheese, open on Saturday am?
23rd Ave really doesn’t need to be four lanes of traffic. The sidewalks AND the car lanes are far too narrow for the speeding traffic. Above all 23rd Ave desperately needs to become more pedestrian friendly with wider sidewalks, bike lanes, parking, public transit, trees, flowers, and pleasant commercial venues for food and fun.
I am all for renovating business in our area. If I can walk to get a good cup of coffee, some pho, some nails from the hardware shop, etc then that means one less vehicle on the road.
Here are some more to add to the list:
1. Good sandwich shop….like The Other Coast Cafe (in Ballard)
2. Dry cleaner
3. High-end burger place. (We heard that Blue Moon Burgers is looking to expand).
5. Mexican restaurant
6. Anything kid-friendly
A lot of these suggestions strike me as a little cutesy. Union and 34th already have lots of cafes and breakfast places. Best idea here so far: a laundromat. Practical. Needed. And you make friends at them.
I wouldn’t mind another Sit and Spin like Belltown used to have. Laundromat, cafe, pinball, etc all in one!
I would love to see something like Tutta Bella go in that space.
If theres a hardware store it should sell tennis balls
I would love to see a simple, authentic, no frills mexican restaurant in that space. Especially if they served breakfast tacos.
Right now people come to our area for three good reasons, Ezell’s, Catfish Corner, and Ethiopian food. Lets expand what we have. Let’s make it a destination spot. Everyone wins if we build thing that are not only benefit the immediate neighborhood but also attract others outside of our few blocks.
Here are some ideas:
– Shared space for local farmers
– Small restaurant that is also a specialty store (think Vios on 19th)
– Wine and Beer bar (not a full fledge bar)
– Coffee shop
– Flower market
– Small family owned taqueria and specialty market
– Really nice pizza place
– Book/Toy store
– Specialty pet store
– Sandwich/BBQ joint
– Southern food
– A space where different local chefs can teach a class
– Plant/hardware store (similar to City People on Madison)
With this space we have an opportunity to show others what the Central District really is. A great neighborhood.
Cutesy? Hardware store, dry cleaners, restaurants…in my mind these aren’t cutesy. They would be a welcome and well-used resource for the neighborhood. As for the laundromat, we don’t need another. We have one at 23rd and Union….and if you are considering Madrona part of the CD there is another up on 34th.
I second this Mexicon Food idea. But, it has to be authentic. I’m thinking of something along the line of SF’s El Faro. I need a real Burritoria!!! I love the rest of the ideas as well…