“The business doesn’t look as slick and professional as the other stores. Maybe they just don’t want us on the block.”
When landlords can say goodbye to a 20+ year retail tenant without a new business lined up to take the space, the good times in Pike/Pine must be very good.
Edge of the Circle, Seattle’s source for paganism and the occult, has lost its lease on E Pike, owner Robert Anderson tells CHS.
“He told me, we’ve been thinking about different business strategies and we’ve decided we want to do something else with the lease. We want yo to move. We’re choosing not to renew the lease,” Anderson said about a painfully awkward conversation with a property manger representing the company that purchased The Ludlow, the 700-block E Pike building home to Edge and a variety of Capitol Hill-flavored businesses, last year. You can read more of the play-by-play of the way in which Anderson found out his bookstore and emporium was getting the boot here via the Slog which broke the news about the situation Thursday. Anderson tells CHS he only found about the change Wednesday — he now has until August to move out, and find a new home for the shop.
Anderson tells CHS he has been in a month to month lease situation in the building after his longterm lease with the Ludlow’s previous owners ran out. When those longtime owners sold the property in September for $7.5 million, Anderson said the new owners told him to hang tight and that they planned to keep things as they were.
Wednesday’s news comes as a shock and has Anderson wondering what exactly was behind the ouster. “In 20 year, I’ve always paid my rent,” he said. “The business doesn’t look as slick and professional as the other stores. Maybe they just don’t want us on the block.”
Anderson said the new owners raised rents “slightly” and are planning to rebrand the building The Hudson. Across the street, construction is moving into the final phases on the massive Pike Motorworks mixed-use development that is transforming the shell of a former BMW dealership and garages into a project with 260 market-rate apartment units, and nearly 20,000 square-feet commercial space for shops and restaurants. Nearby, the former Mercedes dealership is getting similar treatment and the corner where 95 Slide now stands has been sold and is also being lined up for development. The changes are flowing up and down Pike. CHS reported that Kit and Ace, an ambitious new “technical luxury” retailer from the Lululemon empire will open its Seattle store on the street this fall. And a giant, 10,000 square-foot mystery retailer is lined up to join the Mercedes development.
A representative for the new ownership of Edge of the Circle’s building described the company as “funded by private investors and locally managed” by Timberlane Partners, “a Seattle-based investment group.”
According to state records, the various corporations involved include New York-based Crosby Capital, “a diversified real estate investment firm” with investment criteria including “deal size” between $1 million and $100 million.
John Chaffetz of Timberlane tells CHS the plan is “to emphasize the character of the building with minor cosmetic changes, primarily to the exterior. He said the Edge space is coveted by businesses wanting to be part of the block. “We’ve received tremendous interest in the space and we are committed to bringing in a small business that will add something new and exciting to the neighborhood in which we live,” he said.
Chaffetz said the opportunity from the demand lead to the decision to drop Edge of the Circle. “It’s the space in the building we’ve had the most interest in from folks, and so we made the tough decision to explore other possible tenants,” he said via email Friday morning.
CHS contacted many of the owners of the other businesses in the building which include The Honey Hole, Alive and Well, Sal’s Barber Shop, Babeland, and Stitches sewing and craft supply. Most expressed surprise at the news Anderson had lost his lease and all said they would be sorry to see him go.
“They’ve been awesome,” Sean London said of his longtime neighbor at The Honey Hole. “Robert is about the nicest guy I’ve met on Capitol Hill”
“He’s done really well to hang with all the changes,” London said. “It seriously breaks my heart — it’s really happening to a good person.”
Edge of the Circle will live on, Anderson promises. It has moved before. CHS visited “Capitol Hill’s magickal Edge of the Circle” in 2013 and talked with the owner about the history of the shop including its start in “a hallway downtown” and “a shack on 14th and Union, which has since been torn down.” Anderson told CHS he started at Edge as a customer and then a volunteer before taking over the store.
The business moved to E Pike in early 1994, Anderson said and has been serving customers on Capitol Hill ever since. “It’s their magickal grocery shopping,” he told CHS in 2013, “and I’d better not run out of whatever they need for that magickal ritual, tonight. I’ve learned.”
Anderson said he would like to re-open in the area but he knows that finding a space on Capitol Hill with a lease he can afford would take, well, magick.
“I’d love to,” Anderson said. “If you know somebody with a space, send them down.”
UPDATE: You can also help by doing some shopping.