Castle sex store making plans to open in Pike/Pine

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 2.14.48 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 9.41.51 AMWe might soon live in a world without a Broadway sex shop. CHS has learned that the Phoenix, Arizona-based company behind Castle Megastore is making plans to open in the heart of Pike/Pine in the space of a former tattoo parlor neighboring lesbian bar The Wildrose.

Company officials have not yet confirmed the plan or if they intend to close the existing Capitol Hill store where Castle president Mark Franks had told CHS in 2013 he wanted to move the shop due to public safety issues on Broadway and the poor maintenance of Castle’s building. By January 2014, the shop was still operating on Broadway and staff said the plan was to stay.

Now, according to construction permits recently filed with the city, Castle is lining up the former E Pike home of Super Genius tattoo for a full buildout to “reconfigure [the] lower floor” of the building “for ‘Castle Megastore’ retail shop.” Last November, Super Genius pulled up stakes after 10 years on E Pike and moved around the corner to a new home on 10th Ave.

The below-street grade level shop will be approximately 2,000 square feet and is being planned with a base construction budget of $50,000 for the buildout.

The changes to the 1905-built apartment building at the corner of 11th and E Pike continues a slow evolution started with its $4.3 million purchase by Cadence Capital from local landowner Anne Michelson in 2012. At the time, the company said it intended to continue to operate the building as Michelson had and inked longtime tenant Wildrose to a lease extension to keep the lesbian bar in place through 2015. Meanwhile, the development of 11th Ave is a showcase — and sometimes comically tangled — example of Pike/Pine’s frantic pace of development with six new buildings being planned or constructed within three blocks.

The Phoenix-headquartered Castle operates stores in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest regions from Albuquerque to Fairbanks. The first store opened in 1987.

DSCN0928Castle will arrive on E Pike amid a thriving and sometimes tumultuous Pike/Pine nightlife economy. Gay night spot The Lobby Bar, now on the search for a new Capitol Hill home, appears to be a recent victim of the shift to more mainstream offerings in the neighborhood. We suspect the Woo! Girl might prefer Castle over nearby longtime Pike/Pine purveyor of kink, The Crypt. But we like the odds in any battle with E Pike’s Babeland which celebrated its 20th anniversary on the Hill in 2013.

Beyond changing nightlife in the area, the new store is also set to join changing daytime uses on E Pike. In November, the new Out of the Closet thrift store and the new home AHF Pharmacy joined Lifelong in a new retail, health, and office facility across the street from where Castle is making plans to move in.

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22 thoughts on “Castle sex store making plans to open in Pike/Pine

  1. Well, that just sucks. I have no problem with their merchandise or clientele. It’s just their street presence is uglier than the ugly and looks like suburban trash. Maybe they’ll read this and re-do their branding and revise it to fit the character of their planned new neighborhood. If you look at their visual presence and put it in the context of Pike-Pine it’s a very poor fit, based on what their presence is on Broadway. I’m open for a surprise but based on the available evidence I’m warily skeptical.

    • I agree. It does look like a Blockbuster Video or Jamba Juice with its garish fluorescent color scheme, the classic Suburban Strip Mall Trash facade. But I doubt Castle will redesign their cookie cutter look, as they’re a corporate spawn.

  2. It is very likely they will close the Broadway store. While I’m not a customer, it will be too bad, as it will add to the increasing vacancy rate at large spaces, such as the old Broadway Grill and soon the Red Light store. The more vacancies there are, the more an area seems neglected, and this is an open invitation to more street/homeless people because they can occupy the business entrances with impunity.

    Why are there so many vacancies? Is it simply a matter of high rents? Or are the social problems along Broadway driving businesses away?

    • Tatyana, Broadway Grill, Red Light, Aprie, soon-to-be Castle…. that stretch of Broadway between Olive and Harrison is on tough times.

      Personally, I have to think it may be a combination of things you mentioned, calhoun. I know my girlfriend and I have both been driven away due to the social problems, as you call them, in that area, while at the same time, the rent is too high.

    • The Lyric business spaces have all been occupied now and some by good local companies. Everyone was saying it would be impossible to fill those spaces 1.5 years ago.
      I think the problem with this section of Broadway is that it is under transition. Light rail will change the face of this section of the hill and the businesses will either have to adapt or die. Still hoping we can hold on to some great pieces of authenticity though…

  3. Although I am somewhat skeptical it will be all that is promised, at least the new rail transit station and related developments will alleviate the abandoned/neglected look of that general area of Broadway. Completion of those improvements is many months off, so in the meantime, this is what we get.

  4. The problem with moving next to the Wildrose is that block is no safer or less of a hangout than the current location, and it is a lot dirtier, too. I don’t see any significant indications of improvement to the building that would justify the move. I can’t quite imagine how rent would be cheaper — maybe a little. I expect there is another reason. Redevelopment would be the logical reason.

    • I think their space on Broadway is too large. I’m not ashamed to say I’m a customer, sometime you just need lube, okay?

      However, they have an awful lot of space between their aisles, there’s no way they need the square footage they are paying for. I doubt this building is ripe for redevelopment, however, as it’s fairly new and sandwiched between two 6 story structurees.

      The block between Thomas and Harrison on the east side of block, something tells me the property owners might be consolidating their holdings to redevelop that block or most of it. One story retail isn’t the highest and best use for the land. There were rumours of development also taking down the Rite Aid and building north to Charlie’s for a 5 over one development, but I haven’t heard more since.

      As residents, we may see vacancies and think the landlords are asking too much, however, it could also be the owners won’t offer a long enough lease because they have a development scheme they want to do with the property.

  5. “Public safety issues” on Broadway? Can we talk about Pike/Pine for a minute? What about the rampant public safety issues happening there? Homeless, street youth, aggressive panhandling, scores of douche-bros and woo-girls getting in fights with gays, drunks storming up and down the street for half the nights of the week, east african street gangs, non-east african street gangs. Yes, the Wildrose block is exactly where I want to go buy my dildo and then get the shit beat out of me afterwards just for being a little bit different than the rest of the tidal wave of heteronormative bullshit that keeps climbing up the hill.

    • Imagine how much fun it’ll be to work in that store, as all those douche-bros and woo-girls get toasted and get the great idea to go sex-shop browsing in their drunken stupor? Yeah, excellent. Hope they plan on having in-store security at all times.

    • I thought the same thing! Broadway north of the light rail station is much safer than Pike/Pine, especially at night. After the station opens there will be MUCH more foot traffic and businesses around there will all be full.

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  7. Pike/Pine is already well-served by (Toys in) Babeland. In fact, do we really need anything else on Capitol Hill? But I guess there’s a market because Castle has been in business on the hill for a while; the good news about this I guess is that — as others have noted — the new location should siphon off most of the drunken Δ’ΘΣ-heads and woo-girls, leaving Babeland in peace.

    • Up at 14th and Pike, there’s Doghouse Leathers, then at 11th there’s The Crypt, now there will also be Castle, and then down at Harvard there’s Babeland.

      Am I missing any?

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