When his target location for a recreational pot store on 15th Ave E was snatched up in an 11th hour deal earlier this year, Samuel Burke scrambled in search of a place to open Capitol Hill’s first I-502 shop. He may have found it across Republican at Angel’s Shoe Repair.
If all goes according to plan, Burke tells CHS he will open tōk by the end of June in the space that Ray Angel has occupied since 1980. Customers may also find a familiar face behind the pot shop’s counter: Burke says he wants to sign on Angel to work in his shop.
“I’m always looking for a win-win situation,” Burke told CHS.
Angel, a third generation cobbler, declined to comment on the future of his shop or his involvement with tōk. The family shoe repair business first opened in 1912 and has been on Capitol Hill for nearly 70 years. Joel Ostroff, who manages the property for Stanley Real Estate on behalf of the real estate investors who own the building, also declined to comment.
State Totals via the WSLCB’s Marijuana Dashboard
Burke told CHS on Thursday that he was prepared to sign a lease that day with the 1463 E Republican property owner. The state liquor board has already conditionally approved the new location, which Burke hopes could open as early as next month after he submits a copy of his lease and security plans to state regulators. However, Burke has reason to be cautious.
Earlier this year, the I-502 lottery winner was well on his way to opening a pot shop inside the now-shuttered Capitol Hill Veterinary Clinic when Uncle Ike’s owner and CHS advertiser Ian Eisenberg bought the property in a $1.5 million deal. Burke had hoped Eisenberg would still extend him a lease, but Eisenberg later told CHS he would remodel the space in hopes of finding another I-502 permit holder to partner with.
By that time, the 67-year-old investment manager said he already had his heart set on Capitol Hill and the neighborhood’s creative energy. “Once I got involved in Capitol Hill, it became apparent to me… this is where we should locate,” he said.
The opportunity remains lucrative. Though a price plunge has slowed month over month growth to around 6%, Uncle Ike’s sales have continued to climb to just short of $40,000 per day. The sizable tax on the sales, the expense and difficulty of securing a permit, and the enormous expense of required elements like robust security eat away much of the profit margin.
Burke’s plans for a 15th Ave shop comes amid concerns about the intense focuse the area has received from I-502 permit holders. The clustering of recreational marijuana projects in Central Seattle is an outgrowth of the overlaying restrictions on store locations based on state and city rules including the required 1,000-foot buffer from schools, parks, or community centers.
Next door to Angel’s, Ed Zhang — the official postmaster and business owner of the US Postal Service outlet — confirmed that though he still has two years left on his lease, he has been notified by the building’s ownership that he will face a doubling of rents.
Meanwhile, construction is moving forward near Uncle Ike’s on another I-502 retailer. CHS reported in October that an I-502 lottery winner for a license to operate in the Central District has purchased a property being used as a mosque. Ponder owner John Branch recently joined Mayor Ed Murray to announce new licensing requirements for recreational and medical shop owners.
UPDATE 6/1/2015 10:17 AM: CHS is reaching out to the involved parties to give everybody an opportunity to provide information from their side of the situation — without resorting to sniping in the CHS comments. Arlana Angel, Ray’s daughter who has been representing the business, said the Capitol Hill cobbler will be taking the next two weeks to complete orders and start moving out his century-old equipment. Ideally, Arlana said Angel will find a new home for his shop in the coming weeks.
“He got bullied out of his space,” she said. “It wouldn’t be easy for anyone, let alone someone who’s 67-years-old.”
Arlana said “a longtime customer and family friend” has created a donation page for supporting her dad’s move. $1,005 had been raised as of Monday morning.
We have not been able to reach Burke to clarify consultant Ben Livingston’s role at this point.
UPDATE 6/2/2015 3:20 PM: Livingston tells CHS he is working as Burke’s broker in acquiring a location for the business and Burke has confirmed he represents tōk.
Livingston, who is also a writer on cannabis issues, tells CHS “there’s a sensitivity in the neighborhood to displacing tenants.”
“It’s the same reason we didn’t go after the Coastal Kitchen, nobody is going to replace it,” Livingston said.
Livingston said Burke offered Ray Angel “a part-time job” with a five-year contract and that Angel was “pretty stoked about the job.” Burke also offered Angel
a $95,000 “goodwill payment,” Livingston said.
“The only goal was to make him happy and not complain to the media,” Livingston said. UPDATE 6/3/2015 8:15 AM: Livingston provided a correction clarifying the offer he says was offered to Angel —
Mr. Burke offered a lump sum payment of $20,000 and five years of half-time employment at $15/hr ($15k per year times five years minimum guaranteed employment).
Livingston said there was an informal agreement between the men but that changed when lawyers got involved. According to Livingston, Angel wanted a guarantee of payment even if tōk never opened.
Livingston said Burke will take possession of the retail space starting July 1st.
UPDATE 6/3/2015 5:00 PM: The lawyer representing Ray Angel tells CHS she refutes Livingston’s account of the negotiations. “It would have been nice if there were a $20,000 lump sum payment and/or a five-year guaranteed employment,” Cecilia Cordova of Pacific Alliance Law said. “The fact is, either one of those would have been a good deal, but neither was offered.”
“My understanding is different from what Mr. Livingston is purporting the terms of the agreement to be,” Cordova said.