City clamps down on Capitol Hill arts collective, vintage shop

An “art & music collective” is scaling back and a vintage rummage shop on Capitol Hill is shutting down this weekend following a row with the city over approved uses for a 17th Ave group home. Megan Connors of Bon Voyage Vintage said, well, bon voyage this week via Facebook.

Here’s what she told CHS about the situation:

Yes we were a super Undergound shop. No advertising other than word of mouth and facebook. We were gypsy status selling on the streets before then, you might have seen us out there.( across from bauhaus coffee or near trader joes) We also had a large shop in California for a year.

We moved into the InartsNW last year and opened a small boutique inside , open by appointment and during events (shows, art walks, ect.) got very busy during these events! so much fun.


Recently the city has done an inspection of our art collective and is trying to shut down our performance space. We are not zoned to have a commercial space or stage, that’s why we are moving forward and closing the shop for now. Our house is still hosting art walks, karaoke nights, bingo, Live music is on hold until the near future.

We will still continue to have sidewalk sales this summer when the weather gets better until we get a storefront again.

Here are some links to our house as well as our business. We also help run the comet flea market, which is bi-weekly and also sell at the Punk Rock Flea Market. 

We will be opening another shop either on capitol hill or back in California in the next year. 

We will still be out on the street this spring/summer:) As well as a monthly craft fair at our art collective called crafty vixens. Let me know if you have any more question! Thanks for taking an interest!

Meg and Keith

(Image: Bon Voyage)

According to Department of Planning and Development records, two separate complaints were filed on the house at 1633 17th Ave beginning in January alleging violations of both Seattle’s Land Use and Housing and Building Maintenance codes. Inspectors confirmed the violations and the notification process has played out in the intervening months with final “order of the director” actions pushing the matter to the last step before legal action earlier this month, according to records.

The house at 1633 17th Ave is owned by real estate investor Peter Sikov. He rose to the region’s attention in the mid-2000s as he tried to preserve Jimi Hendrix’s boyhood Renton home. On Capitol Hill, after acquiring the 17th Ave property for just over $1 million in 1998, he operated a halfway home for mentally ill residents at the address until budget cuts removed funding for programs that supported his ventures as documented in this 2008 Seattle PI article.

In 2010, the property was deeded to a Inn Association, a corporation run by Sikov.

The InartsNW collective describes itself as “a community of thirty artists living collectively on the top of Seattle’s Capitol Hill.” It’s not clear what the DPD violations will mean for those thirty. For Bon Voyage Vintage, it means one last weekend sale.

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28 thoughts on “City clamps down on Capitol Hill arts collective, vintage shop

  1. It’s no surprise that the city caught on to this.

    I’ve got a feeling that their liquor vending downstairs was done permitless. I am just basing this based upon the fact that they were selling PBR tall boys and only either whiskey gingers or whiskey cokes. Not to mention that the girl doling out the goods looked like she was like 19 (No one was carded). Also, I’m pretty sure they didn’t have a license to operate a music venue space. Especially a space that allowed smoking indoors.

    Want to have a cool fun underground business? You’ve got to follow at least a few rules.

  2. I’m not up on the details, but it is interesting that this may be the exact type of situation where the new land use changes would come into play and be more lenient about commerce activities in unconventional spaces.

  3. Ya. You gotta do it right with DIY spaces. The speakeasy/smoking inside element is definitely a no-go and a surefire way to get busted by the city.

    It’s a shame that this is happening to The In, but seriously… they were acting pretty shady.

  4. The new zone proposed does not include bars or nightclubs. The new zone would, however, include stronger regulations on such activity (as The In’s toeing the line). In the last 2 years, there have been over 100 noise nuisance complaints to SPD, Community Police involved actions, increased property crime and graffiti, public urination and garbage strewn through the neighborhood, all related to illegal business activities at this residence. This is not to mention suspected activities inside. Quite a joke, actually. There is no place for live stage shows in a residential neighborhood. There is no place for any business activities at this residence.

  5. I live near 18th and Olive, and I always wondered what the hell was going/went on in this place…it’s nice to have some info. I gotta’ say, I never had any issues with the people hanging around the yard and sidewalk, they were friendly and polite

  6. Yeah, I do believe that the idea of the place was an interesting one, but you’re eventually going to run into problems without permits, or with underage drinking, or with smoking ban violations.

    Maybe it can be a learning experience for these folks.

  7. As a nearby neighbor (18th and Denny) I can say that this is EXACTLY why folks are opposed to having commercial uses allowed in traditionally residential zones. That once grand old house is looking more and more dumpy. Yard full of junk etc etc. I am not close enough to hear how noisy it is at night but have heard from others that it is disturbing to say the least. Imagine living next door to this place? No thanks!

    With all of the vacant storefronts nearby I am confident that their vintage store will find a suitable space where it belongs in a business district.

    And for the record there are no Commercial uses in the immediate neighborhood but we have more than our share of social service places.

  8. People not following the “rules” or people not having the freedom to create the spaces they wish to create? This obsession with rules and regulations and licenses and permits is ridiculous. Who gives a shit if a 19 year-old WAS bartending? What’s with this moralism and tattle-telling?

    The fact is that the city and the yups don’t want any spaces beyond their control, especially ones where lots of young people hang out. Something subversive might hatch there! Maybe a counter-culture that actually poses some threat to the normal capitalist social relations blanketing the hill, something like the vibrant squatting/underground music/youth culture scenes of places like Barcelona or Hamburg! God forbid!

    As I understand it, the struggle for all-ages music venues has been going on for a long time in Seattle. It seems like we can only get “legitimate” spaces if we grovel for grants or have rich daddies. Fuck that. We shouldn’t have to jump through the city’s hoops just to have places to hang out.

    Good luck to inartsnw in their battle with the petty bureaucrats and snitch neighbors.

  9. I’m not sure it makes a lot of sense to hold up a business that was operating illegally in a residential area as an example of why businesses generally ought not be permitted to do so.

  10. The City’s “rules & regulations” are generally a good thing and serve to protect the majority of residents from those who think they can do anything they damn well please, even if this negatively impacts the neighbors or other citizens. Someday, when you are older and more mature, you will understand this.

  11. I highly doubt that “when I am older” I will run crying to the city or the police or zoning authorities to solve the problems I might have with my neighbors. Likely I will approach them myself and attempt to figure out a way to solve the problem (whatever it is) that we can all deal with.

    This is what I already do. I am probably older than you think I am.

  12. So here I am, working at City Hall, checking my facebook, commenting on the blogs, when all of the sudden McGinn comes in and is like “Hey, Jim, we need to you to get on CHS and the other blogs, you know, protect our interests. You know what I mean?” I honestly don’t care, I just want McGinn to invite me to one of his parties again and hopefully get a promotion. So I do what he wants and basically troll all political blogs and newsites.

    But check this, Chief Diaz comes in sometimes and looks at me with his psycho eyes and says “Jim, we’ve got anarchists attacking the banks, the cops, our fair democracy. You do a good job with PR and we’ll take care of you.” Well, they did, but every time Diaz comes to me for a favor I feel like I just gave him a blowjob when he leaves. I hate working at City Hall. But it beats being broke.

  13. you only think the rules and regulations are good because you aren’t homeless and you’re probably not poor or a person of color or struggling with a drug addiction. you must be pretty comfortable because otherwise you would be running into problems caused by these different laws all the time and you would see how harmful they can be.

  14. The “rules” do give us the freedom tho create the spaces that we want. Those that wish to have spaces for performances and music can create them in areas around other spaces that aren’t affected by the noise. And those that want spaces were they can get a full nights sleep can create them around other people who want a full nights sleep. The rules give both people a space so that neighbors don’t have to feel alienated by one another.

  15. I live right next door to it in the Cascadia, and I must say I have almost never even heard a peep from them. To the point that I didn’t even know what was going on over there. I wouldn’t say the yard is full of junk; I enjoy all the eclectic, quirky stuff they put out there. It’s places like this that made me happy to live on the hill.

  16. @Tides of Flame, yes it’s terribly oppressive. You can’t trash your neighborhood. If you don’t like it, too bad. Move somewhere else. Trust me, you will not be missed for a single minute. The only question I have is what the $#%& took the city so long.

  17. “Yes we were a super Undergound shop.”
    – we operated an illegal business, robbing the city of taxes needed for important funding of parks and schools.

    “We were gypsy status selling on the streets before then”
    – we were homeless

    “We also had a large shop in California for a year.”
    – we also operated an illegal, unregulated business in California.

    “We are not zoned to have a commercial space or stage”
    – we don’t understand that having more than a few people in here is a fire hazard.

  18. Comment by Foxglove:
    “And for the record there are no Commercial uses in the immediate neighborhood but we have more than our share of social service places.” I disagree. The art house is right across the street from a new fitness center, and Trader Joe’s, the big nuisance in the neighborhood with their customers driving in from other neighborhoods and taking up every available parking spot.

  19. Trader Joe’s does provide parking and has a commercial use on Madison Street. Not sure how the gym slipped in there and I HATE the neon sign. And that building it is in is ugly corportate architecture at its worst.

    The old house has a multi family use but is NOT zoned commercial. Even now I think certain businesses can get a variance but of course the have to go thru the proper channels/procedures to do so. Legally.

  20. It’s all great fun until some drunk kid starts a fire. That’s why the neighbors worry about this stuff. Well, that, and not being able to find a spot to park their car near the home they’re working their ass off to afford; or the blasting music and loud sidewalk activity that prevents them from getting needed sleep.

    I’m no fan of state control of anything. And Capitalism sucks–but empathy folks empathy!

  21. I worked at The Inn for years when it was a halfway house for mentally ill adults and don’t recall a single complaint from the neighborhood. (SMH is across the street, along with Olive Ridge!) With all the NIMBY fuss the CD & CH have expressed when any new mental health project looks to start up in the hood, hopefully those involved will see this article. Until these cool old multi use houses are torn down for condos, mostly fringe groups and collectives are going to occupy them. Good for TheIn and RIP The Inn. This is the center of Mentally Ill Hill- the neighbors should be happy and work together on resolving complaints.

  22. @HatedOne, what exactly did this place do to trash “your” neighborhood? People socializing on a porch is hardly trashy. Every time I’ve been, it’s been joyfully mellow and completely under control.
    Arts are the heart and soul of society and this house does so much to nurture that and I think its presence is enhancing OUR neighborhood. It’s a shame spaces like this have to struggle so hard to harmlessly and beautifully do their thing.