Community Post

City denies permit for new restaurant on Union

Based on the comments we got back in June, there were a lot of people who were looking forward to the possibility of a new restaurant at 25th & Union.   Neighborhood residents Erin & Rebecca, owners of The Bottleneck Lounge on Madison, had proposed opening a spot for food and drinks inside the new live/work building at that intersection.

In an email sent to friends and supporters earlier today, Erin announced that the city’s Deparment of Planning has denied them a building permit for the project:

Although the building is zoned for a restaurant which serves cocktails, the Land Use staff rejected the notion that we would serve liquor in the space and denied us the right to move forward.  It was a terrible blow and we were prepared to fight City Hall (so to speak) but it would appear that the developer, Randy Spaan, sold the property the next day.  We’re out of luck.

That being said we both feel very lucky to have garnered so much neighborhood support over the course of the past month.  All those letters to the Liquor Control Board had an impact!   Although we had not yet been granted a license (the process usually take about 90 days) things were moving smoothly and we had every confidence that the outcome would be favorable. 

I’ve got to wonder what the city is thinking here.   There’s non-stop problems from bad-neighbor convenience stores that sell cheap booze to whoever walks in the door, but suddenly a nice restaurant with liquor on the menu (gasp!) is suddenly a huge neighborhood threat?  WTF?  

We’re taking on a lot of density in the neighborhood – something I generally support.   But one of the keys to successful density is to have dining and entertainment options within a reasonable walking distance.   It’s little restaurants like the one that was proposed here that help make city life fun and appealing.   But evidently that’s not something they’ve caught onto down at city hall.

Those with an opinion on the city’s permitting policy should direct their comments to the Director of the planning department: [email protected]

(I’ve also got a call into DPD to get the details behind their decision.  I’ll update this if/when I hear back from them)


0 thoughts on “City denies permit for new restaurant on Union

  1. what a shame that the city has shut down the opportunity to bring a new venue to our neighborhood, supported by much of the community and shepharded by such responsible community-minded business people. I am very disappointed.

    Any news on what is going into those spaces?

  2. so the illegal drug activity in our neighborhood can continue – but a legitimate , legal community building business is denied a permit. Go figure! Perhaps the drug dealers in the neighborhood should start paying their fair share of taxes!!

  3. “…it would appear that the developer, Randy Spaan, sold the property the next day.”

    Yeah, that’s nice. Oh well, good luck finding a new spot.

  4. Very disappointing to hear indeed. This doesn’t make much sense at all, but perhaps as may be implied the developer decided to go a different direction and possibly lobbied for the denial as a way to back out — I sure hope not though. Guess we might see if another business applies for the right to serve liquor in one of the spaces and ends up getting the approval…

    I hope a new location can be found, but I believe the business owners (Rebecca and Erin) were interested in the prospect of the live/work concept of living in the space above as well.

  5. I wrote to Ms. Sugimura about my disappointment in this decision. I have dealt with her and the DPD years ago when fighting aspects of the Walgreens replacement of the City People’s on 15th Ave on Capitol Hill. You have to be persistent and very vocal to get them to move, but it can be done!

  6. Confirming what we all knew, DPD has their heads so far up their asses it’s appalling.

    What this demonstrates is the following:

    1) They have no idea what the owners of the Bottleneck Lounge have done on Madison to date
    2) They have no idea that our neighborhood needs good business owners in the worst way
    3) They are completely and utterly out of touch.

    The worst is that they let a FCUKING LIQUOR STORE operate at one of the worst intersections in the City (not to mention the places selling 10% 22oz like hotcakes).

    I say let’s flood Diana Sugimura’s inbox.

  7. Just google Randall Spaan. I hope these wonderful folks do thier research and think twice next time…..

  8. Maybe I’ll just cut a paste these. I’ll say it again. This a containment zone for crime, and all the crap the rest of the city does not want. If something nice happens it can change things and they could lose their containment zone.
    Sue!!! It won’t change any other way because the old guard does not want it to change!

  9. Disappointing — we were looking forward to another not-too-far-away destination. Worse, it’s sad to see the decision stomp the enthusiasm this idea was met with here on CDN.

    Very thin silver lining. This will inspire shining a light deeper into the inner workings of this part of city hall. It will be useful to find out what happened and then try again. And again.

  10. i don’t often write letters, but this was very important to me too. I encourage all of you to write as well!

  11. I just heard about the refusal to grant the owners of the Bottleneck Lounge a permit for a new establishment on 25th and Union. While I think I’m too heated about this topic to write a full length missive right now, I would like to ask one question: Is the city *trying* to keep this neighborhood from cleaning itself up and becoming a place I can walk the streets after dark without fear? Because if so, A+. Way to go.

    -Aja, A Citizen of The Central Seattle City Sanctioned Crime Zone.

  12. i googled randall spann, but couldn’t find anything interesting besides one complaint letter to the planning committee about building on a steep grade. point me in the right direction?

  13. I wrote an email to Ms. Sugimura on Friday afternoon and did receive a prompt brief reply back that DPD’s customer service manager would look into this matter on Monday. She also requested that the address of the property be included (I had referenced Union and 25th in my original email). I have not had time to go by the property yet and note down the address, but did try to use Zillow to figure it out, but it came up NULL. I ended up specifying it at the SW corner of Union and 25th in my response.

    If anyone knows the exact address and possibly unit number, please post it here for others that are planning to write in about this.

  14. i’ll try to stop during my errands and find the exact address.

    containment zone!?! Somebody has watched too much Wire.

  15. The excerpt in this story states the “the Land Use staff rejected the notion that we would serve liquor in the space”… . Is that the entire reason DPD gave for the decision?

  16. No, the CD is a containment zone. I never watched the wire just have lived in the CD too long and have have worked with city staff who do not know I live here and who have said as much.

  17. I sent an email to Ms Sigimura .. and I hope everyone else does as well. Something’s rotten in Denmark … How did the Mosque get a permit? Or do they even have an occupancy permit? They certainly put a great deal of parked cars on our street and have negatively impacted the traffic flow. If we’re so close to 2 public schools – isn’t this supposed to be a ‘drug free’ zone – or do they just want the kids to walk down the street (or across the street to the convenience store to buy their crack/pot??) I don’t get any of this … Perhaps the CD is the city’s personal dumping ground … then perhaps we should all get a significant tax break??

    All I can suggest (because I’m still rather irrated at all this) is email, EMAIL, EMAIL …

    [email protected]

  18. I sent an email on Friday and received a reply yesterday that customer service would reply to my email shortly. I’m not too encouraged.

  19. Who are the other tenants or intended tenants of the remaining spaces? How do they feel about the situation? Their opinion should play an important role here.

  20. but sometimes emailing DPD is like sending thoughts into a black hole. Great for documentation, but telephone calls to an actual person might be more effective. And, you might find out what happened.