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Pike/Pine’s nightlife gets busy as new plans for the Narwhal and Q ‘ultra lounge’ emerge

Bones of the Narwhal (Images: CHS)

Lest you begin to believe that Capitol Hill’s nightlife future will be built on the back of hand-foraged nettles and grass-fed beef, don’t forget your tall whiskey soda. It’s a busy week for club and lounge news on Capitol Hill. Here are details on two more new projects where people will drink, dance and drink again underway in Pike/Pine. On Monday, we told you about the ambitious overhaul on E Olive Way that will become The Social. Now, here comes the Narwhal and (this time it means it) Q.

Along East Pike, the streetscape is packed with food and drink. Beneath the surface, something rumbles. Work will soon be underway on the Unicorn’s underground companion, the Narwhal, a subterranean addition to the liquor-drenched circus above promising a second bar, a game room, a stage for live performances and an impressive new staircase connecting the two levels.

The space, planned by Unicorn partners Paul Blake and Adam Heimstadt, will transform the 5,000 square-foot basement beneath the 1118 E Pike building. A new staircase will require the elimination of at least one booth above. Below, Blake said he expects visitors will find another world of Heimstadt’s vision including space for live performances and a pinball room.

According to city filings, the project has a $290,000 construction budget for new staircase and overhaul of the basement. No seismic upgrade was required and Blake, says, the partners were fortunate to have a sprinkler system already in place in the basement that has been used for storage and construction in recent times. As you can see in the pictures, it looks like the kind of place where maybe some bad things have happened recently.

Speaking of bad things, posting a target for opening this kind of project is a way to guarantee disappointment but, right now, Blake says the Narwhal should be with us by fall.

Q Ultra Lounge
The date for Q is more iffy but the location is not. When we originally broke news of the planned “ultra lounge” nightclub last summer, lead partner Andy Rampl was working on a plan to build out the basement at the corner of 12th and Pine. Now CHS has learned that Rampl’s company has applied for a liquor license and started the permitting process to recreate the former garage home of Capitol Hill Collision on Broadway across from the Harvard Market QFC and just a hop, skip and a jump from Neighbours across the intersection of Pike and Broadway.

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Rampl isn’t commenting on the space just yet but last year he told us Q was envisioned as a lounge with a dance floor and a world class sound and lighting system designed by an all-star cast of entertainment vets. 

We also asked Rampl if he was planning Q as a gay venue. His reply:

I personally hate labels but understand that a lot of people and most businesses need them to one degree or another in order to self-identify.

I think the fact that we’re on Capitol Hill and that I intend to draw largely from the great talent pool on the Hill for our staffing needs should tell you all you need to know about the incredibly mixed and varied crowd we will attract, as do all of the wonderful bars and clubs on the hill.

With The Social also embracing if not targeting a gay clientele, Seattle Gay Scene’s concerns for the Neighbours-es and R Places of the Hill might need to be turned up a notch.

Now a note of caution. Q is at nearly the same point of its start-up process as we found it last summer when it was being planned for a 12th Ave basement home. Permits are started, liquor licenses are applied for — but, as we saw earlier, a lot can change. Stay tuned.

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17 thoughts on “Pike/Pine’s nightlife gets busy as new plans for the Narwhal and Q ‘ultra lounge’ emerge

  1. Gay people still go to Neighbours? Haha, Im not sure these new clubs are in danger of stealing their clientele. My friends and I havent been to Neighbours in forever. Im freaking excited for some classier gay places to dance on the hill! The Cuff/R Place scene is getting old.

  2. Can someone enlighten me as to what makes a lounge deserving of the moniker, “ultra”? Are the patrons expected to be 10 times as relaxed?

  3. just like the trendy ‘speakeasy’ wanna-be bars, i’m sure it’s just a clever way to charge 2-3x the amount for watered down specialty drinks that taste like koolaid

  4. From Urban Dictionary:

    Where people with more money than brains go to spend ridiculous amounts of money on expensive cover charges, over-priced drinks, pay extremely stupid amounts of money for VIP seating or a VIP area, and pretend that doing so makes them important or impressive to others.

  5. I already loathe going to Capital (pun intended) Hill as there is no street parking, little lot parking and the ‘hood’ is rift with druggies and panhandlers. I like Fremont or Ballard for my music events…

  6. I’ll get excited when someone finally gets a clue, and instead of opening yet another bar crammed into the same 6 block area with no parking (see: 10 lbs of shit in a 5 lb bag), they finally realize that every $10 or $20 I have to flush on parking and cabs is $10 or $20 I won’t be spending in their bar. And just maybe we’ll see a gay bar in Georgetown or Sodo or practically anywhere you might have a prayer of finding a parking spot. But I doubt it.

  7. Yea, aren’t cities just the worst? …

    What’s up with all the complaints about parking in a dense city neighborhood? How backwards can you get? The whole point of urban centers is to concentrate services/living. This is not a suburban neighborhood where everyone owns a car.

    This is where a large number of people want to be, so that’s exactly where this type of business is going to build… to cater to those people. If you want to enjoy the amenities of the neighborhood then learn to respect that neighborhood’s goals.

  8. The thing is, young people live and visit capitol hill. Once you hit 30 they stuff you into a duffle bag and drop you off at the boarder of ballard and freemont/phinny ridge and let you wonder into a new home. Its only a matter of days that you realize bliss equates to not sold out shows, weekend nights ending at 12:30 and getting a dog.

    Just kidding, i love ballard, freemont and phinny ridge. They just wont except me for a few more years.

  9. i met one of the owners of q and i understand they got out of their earlier lease up the hill because the landlord was insane and was a recently convicted felon! among other things. their new broadway space looks incredible (from what i’ve sen through the windows)and given the team they’ve put together it looks like capitol hill is finally going to have its very own world class nightclub. and for the record i still go to neighbours from time to time and it still sucks. same as it ever was.