One of the more future-looking retail ventures in the area is calling it quits. Here is why Electric Lady, the Central District e-bike shop in a building part of the wave of new development at 23rd and Union, is going out of business.
“(T)he business is doing well financially, but he is not enjoying the work needed to navigate what he sees as an unreliable industry where companies start up, go under, fire staff and get bought constantly,” the Seattle Bike Blog writes aboutowner Alex Kostelnik’s decision.
But Kostelnik tells SBB he was also having trouble connecting with his customers:
“They’re first time riders, but they’re not first time riders that are stepping up to the plate to hear about the community or join the community. They’re sort of strange outsider, know-it-all lonely people who aren’t really part of our community, and I don’t know where to begin with them.”
It’s not all sour grapes. Kostelnik will continue to run 20/20 Cycles just up the E Union hill and plans to include some electric bike models in his inventory.
The bike entrepreneur and partners opened the Hendrix-inspired Electric Lady in The Central building in spring of 2016 as a showroom for cargo “city trekking” bikes designed to carry commuters, and families, and sometimes more than a 100 pounds of stuff plus a rider. The new bikes carried price tags ranging from $3,000 to $6,500 and also had gear to help riders on a more limited budget create DIY trekking machines. “I don’t want to be Banana Republic,” Kostelnik told CHS about his plans for the shop.
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Electric Lady’s closure comes as the area around 23rd and Union is seeing another wave of change around its neighborhood and business community. Earl’s Cuts and Style just moved temporarily into The Central as Midtown Center is readied for demolition.
Later this year, Earl’s will move to the corner of 24th and Union where the Liberty Bank Building will open as a six-story, 115-unit affordable housing development on the land once home to the region’s first Black-owned bank. That Brown Girl Cooks will also be part of the mix as the development has emphasized recruitment of Black-owned businesses.
Some small businesses at Midtown — and the U.S. Post Office — haven’t yet found new homes.
Developer Lake Union Partners is preparing Midtown for a major new development that will create a set of seven-story apartment buildings with 429 apartment units, including around 125 affordable housing units allocated for households earning between $40,000 and $65,000 per year or 60% to 85% of area-median income (AMI) built as part of both the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program and the Multi-Family Tax Exemption Program (MFTE). Regional pharmacy chain Bartell Drugs is planned to occupy the large retail space on the corner of 23rd and Union with a mix of smaller, more neighborhood focused retail and restaurant spaces surrounding the inner square.
Another Lake Union Partners project is The East Union mixed-use building on the northwest corner of 23rd and Union. It is preparing to welcome the area’s largest new retail investment in the “opening soon” New Seasons grocery market.