Live/work developments have a fairly simple concept: people live upstairs or in back and run some sort of business in front. But so far we’ve had mixed success in the execution of it here in the Central District.
The project at 25th & Union that was completed last year is a good example. The Bottleneck owners were blocked by permitting issues when they tried to open up a small restaurant in that building. And Envy Grows gave it a go with a plant retail shop on the corner there, but pulled up roots and moved to Capitol Hill last month, citing a lack of foot traffic and non-existent retail community in the old space.
Additionally, the large live/work development planned for 26th & Cherry has been on ice since their last design review in November 2008.
But maybe the problems above are project specific and not a flaw in the overall concept. Yesterday Kedra announced to great fanfare that they were planning a new bar for the live/work development at 19th & Yesler. She mentioned in the comments that being able to make a home there was a big plus when compared to other neighborhood retail space.
We may get a few other chances to see how things work out in this space. Pb Elemental recently finished up a live/work project on Union between 20th & 21st. There’s four units there priced at $400,000 each, each with a lot of glass and a loft-style layout on the interior. However, at 1,000 square feet each, they may not lend themselves to active uses such as retail, dining, or entertainment – possibly a lost opportunity to build on the existing business district that includes 20/20 Cycles, Katys, and Central Cinema (cdnews sponsors). We’ll keep an eye on them and let you know if it looks like anything interesting will get a start there.