UPDATE: CHS stopped by for the May Day opening
Chophouse Row will be Capitol Hill’s most ambitious development to open in 2015, tying together a slate of likeminded, independent shop owners and offices in a now proven formula from developer Liz Dunn.
To celebrate the five year anniversary of Dunn’s original “Capitol Hill complex“, the tenants at Melrose Market are hosting a party on Saturday starting at 11 AM that will be open to the public and include, among other provisions, Raclette cheese nachos.
As the trio of office tenants settle in upstairs inside the Chophouse building on 11th Ave between Pike and Union, the customer facing elements of Dunn’s project are now lining up to open. First up: Kurt Farm Shop and Niche Outside, two businesses with Capitol Hill roots opening their doors May 1st inside the nearly finished marketplace.
As the only non-food and drink tenant, Niche Outside’s nature inspired shop will feature the finely-tuned tastes of Nisha Kelen, backed by her 30 years in the flower and garden business. Handmade watering cans, wax canvas aprons, and custom blended candles are all items Kelen says you’ll be able to find in her urban-focused shop.
“I’ve always wanted to have a place to go to get a really great gift for somebody that’s linked to the garden,” said Kelen, who just celebrated the 18th anniversary of Fleurish floral shop at 19th and Madison.
Just next door to Niche, farm-to-table pioneer Kurt Timmermeister has taken over a 300-square-foot patch of space for his newest venture. Kurt Farm Shop will feature a selection of dairy products from the farms of Timmermeister and friends, including the best cheeses of Puget Sound, yogurt and ice creams flavored by the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. Timmermeister closed his last Capitol Hill venture, Septieme, in 2004 and rolling his investment into his legendary Kurtwood Farm.
The May 1st opening will be a soft opening of sorts for Chophouse, Kelen said, as buildouts continue thoughout the building.
One that’s nearly complete is Chophouse’s anchor restaurant, a new venture from Ericka Burke of Volunteer Park Cafe. Chop Shop Cafe and Bar is expected to open in late May or early June with a vibe and style of food will be very much related to what Burke has created at VPC in terms of simplicity.
CHS spoke with Burke about the concept last year, including plans for a double cut pork chop for two in honor of the building. Burke said she didn’t have any further details to share with CHS this week, though she’s also been pretty busy working to open a market in Portage Bay.
Shortly after Chop Shop opens, Sarah and Bruce Naftaly and
the Slate Coffee crew plan to open Amandine Bakery by the end of June as a split ground floor/mezzanine cafe and bake shop. Sarah Naftaly told us more details on the project would be coming soon. The couple’s much-loved Le Gourmand and Sambar shuttered on NW Market St in 2012. UPDATE: Amandine will feature Empire Espresso, “a local company that serves light roast coffee made to order with single-cup preparations, along with house-made milk alternatives, grass-fed organic milk, and cold-brewed coffee on nitro draft.”
Chophouse Row will inject some 27,000 square feet of commercial space into Pike/Pine and utilized the neighborhood’s preservation incentives to build to five stories on 11th Ave. The old auto row-era structure integrated into the Chophouse development was once home to Chophouse music studios. The project was designed by Sundberg, Kennedy and Ly-Au Young and Graham Baba.
The final piece of the puzzle will be
Bar Ferd’nand II Upper Bar Ferd’nand, a 1,400 square-foot edition of the popular Euro-style bar, wine shop and cafe . UPDATE: On Monday, the Ferd’nand team confirmed the new name and that its Melrose Market predecessor would soon change its name to Lower Bar Ferd’nand. The bar is slated to open sometime in June. In addition to Upper’s wine selection, Ferd’nand filled us in on the food side of the menu:
The food menu will focus on dry aged and cured meats, simply cooked in our open fireplace, local seafood, served raw, cured or smoked in our passive heat masonry smoker. We will have a small bread and pizza program, as well as a selection of vegetables, prepared pickled or roasted.
Ferd’nand was one of the first tenants to move into Melrose, which has managed to keep a steady cast of food and drink players, including Terra Plata, Sitka and Spruce, Homegrown sandwich shop, Taylor Shellfish, The Calf and Kid, Rain Shadow Meats, Still Liquor, and Marigold and Mint.
“The advantage is that every business brings something really unique to the table and when you put them all together in one space, the effect is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Homegrown owner Ben Friedman.
Retail in the market has been somewhat less stable than the food and drink businesses over the years. Today, Glasswing and Butter Home round out the market’s retail ventures along with the floral offerings of Marigold and Mint.
Melrose Market wasn’t the first development of its kind. Dunn’s partner in the project Scott Shapiro said the duo drew inspiration from similar projects in San Francisco and New York City. The real gamble, Shapiro said, was developing the project during the height of the recession.
“It really helped to anchor the western portion of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in very positive way,” Shapiro said. “It was encouraging.”
Melrose Market’s five-year legacy also lives on in the projects that have grown out of it’s cozy corridors, like Sitka owner Matt Dillon’s The London Plane and the Pioneer Square expansion of Rain Shadow Meats.
“The market shows how well destination development works in retail – that it’s good to draw people to one place rather than disperse people and shops across every street,” Friedman said.
In a smaller way, Shapiro will be taking another stab at a “Capitol Hill complex” this year by transforming the Harvard Exit into offices and a restaurant. With work slated to start later this summer, Shapiro said he was encouraged to see how quickly Chophouse’s office spaces got snatched up in recent months.
Office space, even with the assembly of food and drink offerings below, may end up being the defining element of this new Melrose Market at Chophouse Row. With a pledge to finish what she started with her Pike and 12th Ave developments in the Piston Ring building (her development company also owns the neighboring Baker Linen building home to Cupcake Royale and Retrofit Home), Dunn was on a mission to develop a project in Pike/Pine with jobs and daytime workers — not more housing. Her own contribution, The Cloud Room coworking space , will fill the project’s fourth floor. Meanwhile, though it’s not technically part of Chophouse, the mews-connected Play Doggie Daycare is open and ready to take in your pooch.