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Mixed-use project planned for another block of E Union as auto repair shop is shuttered

(Images: CH)S

(Images: CH)S

The redevelopment of E Union continues and the change means a neighborhood auto repair shop is going out of business.

Lopez Auto Repair closed last week. Owner Daniel Lopez has owned the auto shop for almost six years, he said, and spent the week cleaning out his business. He declined to discuss specifics citing legal issues but noted the body shop was not relocating.

“I’m going out of business,” he told CHS.

Lopez said he had agreed to hand the keys over June 4. On the morning of June 3, he was scrambling to move equipment out of the building on the site and find a tow truck to move vehicles.

The property at the corner of 21st Ave E and E Union adjacent to Chuck’s Hop Shop was sold for $1.05 million in November to Mount Baker, LLC. State business records list the company “lessors of residential buildings and dwellings.” The company is owned by Ian Eisenberg as the owner of Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop continues to invest in real estate in the area around 23rd and Union. Uncle Ike’s is a CHS advertiser.

Eisenberg said he bought the property with an eye toward redevelopment.

While it could be commercial only, mixed-use, with some sort of commercial on the ground floor and residential over it, is likely for the location. Any actual construction, Eisenberg said, is years away, so he hasn’t worked out the particulars.

The real estate investor and entrepreneur has remained a steady force in land deals near the CD-Capitol Hill borders. Last year, Eisenberg sold property on the southwest corner of 23rd and Union to developers for $3.8 million. At 15th and Republican on Capitol Hill, Eisenberg snatched up an I-502 pot shop-friendly property earlier this year booting out a longtime veterinary clinic in the process. Angel’s Shoe Repair is also losing its lease at 15th and Republican as a potential Eisenberg competitor prepares to open a pot shop this summer.

IMG_5557The zoning on the 8,214-square foot lot on E Union allows for medium-sized, pedestrian-oriented shopping (e.g. drug stores, coffee shops, medium sized grocery stores) and also for residential.

There will need to be some clean-up of the property. Eisenberg said he had environmental testing done on the property, and said the underground tanks of the former gas station are in good shape. However, he said there seems to be some surface contamination, owing to the work done at the auto shop.

This week, the pavement around the former auto shop was painted with lines. It will serve as a paid parking lot in the interim.

The blocks around 23rd and Union are busy with construction and more is on the way. A six-story mixed-use project from Lake Union Partners is nearing completion on the southwest corner of 23rd and Union. Across the street on the northwest corner, the same developers plan another six-story project on the site now home to a gas station. Construction is underway on this 24th and Union four-story. Capitol Hill Housing is planning its four-story affordable apartment project across the street. The longtime landowner of the Midtown Center block on the southeast corner of 23rd and Union continues to search for a buyer for the land hoped to be developed in the future as community-friendly retail and housing. Meanwhile, once it makes it through design review, this four-story project will rise at MLK and Union.

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67 thoughts on “Mixed-use project planned for another block of E Union as auto repair shop is shuttered

  1. I hope Ian would consider activating that parking lot by allowing the taco truck or other food truck to remain.

    • Daniel made so much $$$ off his business the last couple years. He is laughing all the way to the bank of Mexico!

  2. That taco truck rocks, I hope it stays too. And I’m really disappointed to learn that gas station is going to be developed. It’s the cheapest around and a great location.

  3. If anyone has the contact info for the taco truck please have them contact me and we will find space for them 1-855-SEA-SUDS.


    • Just FYI if anyone is still reading this thread I talked to Daniel today and asked about the taco truck. The taco guy has a new spot up on Aurora that apparently is better. I asked Daniel to pass along my info if he ever needs a new location.

  4. Me too, Daniel was a good guy and an excellent part of the community. He will be missed and sad that he is going out of business rather then just moving to a new location. This redevelopment boom seems to be crushing certain types of small businesses and I wish there was a better process for them then crossing their fingers that there building is not sold, rent is not tripled – leaving them twisting in the wind. We should think about that as we consider who we elect in our district.

  5. It is very sad that Daniel lopez was forced out of business there. He is a great guy and part of what makes up a neighborhood and community. If a project were being developed right away, it might make sense, but to have the lot sit vacant as a parking lot is a heartless act by someone who is now in the practice of “land-banking” and speculation with properties, regardelss of what they mean to the neighborhood. If you want to get your car fixed, you now have to go much further way from your neighborhood. I hope Daniel finds a new place to continue his talents.

    • I presume the lag-time is necessary at least in part because of the property’s status as a former gas station, which, as the article points out, will require environmental/hazardous waste clean up, in addition to removal of the tanks, all of which can take some time.

      And FWIW, I don’t recall all that much hue-and-cry when Courtesy Tire at 22nd & E Madison, the only other repair shop in the immediate vicinity was similarly displaced several months back.

      Things change, nothing remains the same forever; it’s as inevitable as the sun rising and setting…

    • From what I know of Ian, he’s a great guy and has a business vision in mind when he make his business transactions. He is quite conscientious of the current plight of the CD as it is right now and for what it could be a swell. Having the means-and-wherewithal to transform our ‘hood’ to something different, beneficial and progressive doesn’t in my opinion, seems to be bad things at all. Let’s not look the gift-horse in the mouth; less we start getting ‘investors’ who really don’t give a crap about our beloved CD and start putting in things we don’t want. IJS

  6. While Lopez was a friendly good guy, he was not a good neighbor. As a business owner who keeps an eye on parking for customers, Lopez parked anywhere from 4-7 vehicles on the streets for weeks at a time while his lot was filled with vehicles that never moved or were worked on. With the growing number of businesses in our little district, he was taking up far more than his share of parking. I wish him well but am glad that eyesore is gone.

    • So now we have lost one of the only affordable auto shops in the city so Ian can continue his greedy land grab. That shell station will be sitting empty for years while the environmental review takes place. A parking lot? Isn’t that what we had when Daniel was there? Sure he had cars parked on the lot because he allowed poor people to keep their cars there until they could afford to pay for repairs. How has Ian improved the situation? So far I have been unimpressed with his idea of neighborhood redevelopment.

      • Why is everyone blaming Ian, while no one seems to be blaming the presumably equally greedy property owners selling to him? He didn’t strong-arm them, they sold willingly at what one must assume was a fair market price. That’s what you do when you own property: buy low, sell high, and hope to make a tidy profit in the process.

        And while Daniel may be a perfectly nice person, he let the property itself devolve into a complete eyesore. Some of those vehicles – that boat for example – hadn’t moved in years. They just sat there gathering grime and mold, slowly rotting away along with the piles of used tires cluttering up one entire side of the lot – not exactly my idea of neighborhood improvement.

      • Well, Ian has claimed to care about the community yet he has done nothing to improve 23rd and Union.
        He buys property and sits on it until he can make a huge profit. You notice he says it will be “years” before anything is constructed on that property chances are it will not be by him. So now we still get to stare at a vacant gas station being used as a PAID parking lot. he has no intention of improving anything. He says he is going to “clean everything”.. Really? He built a metal shack for a pot store. He painted the Philly steak building and threw some bongs in there. It is STILL ugly. And his carwash still steals my money. The guy is a barrier to improvement in this neighborhood. He has also proved himself to be a genuine asshole by kicking out the cobbler on Capitol Hill in order to open another pot store. Sorry folks, he does not give a damn about 23rd and Union improvements – particularly if it costs him any money.

      • Sarah, Maybe you are new around here and don’t remember wha the corner looked like 5 years ago. I completely revamped the car wash both mechanically and aesthetically. Basically rebuilt the Jack’n the Box twice, built the pot shop, and got The Central Building through the permitting stage to sell to a vertical developer and had nothing to do with kicking out Ray Angel. I don’t know what your problem is but you are pretty far off base.

      • I live near 23rd and Union and I disagree with you. Ian has improved that corner more than it’s been improved in 10+ years.

        If they pave the Lopez auto shop into a parking lot – that’s already an improvement over the polluted shitpile it is now.

        Why not buy your own lots in the CD and develop them? Put your money where your mouth is.

      • I have lived a few blocks from that corner for 17 years. So yes, I know the history. I am sorry but I just don’t see how you have improved things very much. With all of your rhetoric I expected more than a pot shop, a head shop, and an expensive car wash.

      • Sarah, as a resident of this area for over a decade (until just recently moving) myself, I can attest that corner, and the entire area around 23rd & E Union is GREATLY improved compared to when I moved there in 2004. There are more businesses, more foot traffic, a lot less crime, and the general demeanor feels much more welcoming and safe. You may not agree with some of the specific business choices Ian has made, but that doesn’t negate the fact that they HAVE improved the neighborhood.

        As for your charge that he “sits on the property until he can make a huge profit”, well, name one property owner who DOESN’T do this, at least in-theory? Every homeowner does exactly the same thing, albeit on a smaller scale. What makes you, assuming you own your own home, any different in practice? And frankly, given what was there previously: a rats-warren of semi-abandoned vehicles in various states of disassembly and decay, piles of used tires, and grease and oil spilling over every horizontal surface, a newly-painted empty building and a cleaned up parking lot is a lot more aesthetically appealing in comparison.

      • Yes, I’m sorry to hear of a small business going out of business, he was a nice guy. But as a neighbor who MORE THAN ONCE had to go out into the street with our stroller because there were cars parked blocking the sidewalk, I won’t miss the mess of junker cars and tires.

      • @ Sarah: “So far I have been unimpressed with his idea of neighborhood redevelopment.”

        So then, why don’t you and many others here in this blog, put YOUR millions where your mouths are??!! Some of you seem to have ALL the answers to the things in which you have no control over. Sheesh

  7. So sad. Obviously we don’t know all the details here but if the clues are correct and Lopez was forced out that is very unfortunate.

    dani Lope was a great part of our colorful neighborhood providing a much needed service with class and always a smile and sometimes if you’re lucky a little music.

    Shame on the developers for not trying to find a solution that allowed him to stay. If you own the property why not come up a a solution that modernized the establishment and still allowed for development. Moss Alley would be a great example.

    Oh well, growth and capitalism, yippee.

    • Mystic – I am curious what you would do to modernize the property and allow him to stay. The land is zoned NC2 P. Auto use is not allowed. The old gas station is non conforming and cannot be built out with auto oriented use. This whole area is a Pedestrian zone. I don’t make zoning codes – city council does. The site contamination is not from the old fuel tanks but from the auto repair business. It is easy to point fingers. -Ian

  8. I feel very uneasy about this. A neighborhood cannot be made up entirely of expensive look-alike apartments and brew pubs. And lots of the folks on their bikes today will be in their cars come January and looking for gas.

      • If I am remembering correctly it was ’98 when they installed the tanks and started selling gas. Al Brooks had the repair business there at the time and had saved up enough to buy a gas station franchise. Al’s health took him off the corner in the early 2000’s but he had tenants there selling gas til the mid 2000’s. Al and Jimmy were great observers of life in the CD and always had some amazing story of what was going on. I miss Al.

      • I’ve owned a house around the corner for more than six years, and the station hasn’t had gas that entire time.

        Daniel and his crew were friendly and helpful and affordable, it’s true. But the corner was an eyesore and additional cars were parked up and down our street all the time. On a block with few driveways, even fewer garages, and no alley access, parking for residents alone is difficult, not to mention the loyal customers who drive to Chucks,Central Cinema, and the pilates studio. Where do you think they park? They park in front of my house and those of my neighbors.

        I think this parking solution, until a responsible development can be created, is a good move by Ian. Yes, a small business is out, and that is unfortunate. But this location is not the right spot for a car repair shop with that much work going on all the time. They needed a larger lot and likely better security to keep kids and other people out of the lot and away from the vehicles.

        If Daniel can’t open elsewhere for legal reasons, then I would definitely argue they were not forced out of business. I will miss his smile, and his waves and greetings, definitely. They helped me with flat tires and dead batteries and I know they helped a lot of people with a lot more. But this was not the higher and best use of this property.

      • Al sounds awesome! I know I stopped in for gas there a few times before I bought a house around the corner, when it was still a functioning station. Wish I could have met Al. I bet he would have been a great neighbor.

      • Al was a good friend and fixed my truck many times way back when I had a truck. He also kept the place up much better than Daniel. FYI there is a fantastic repair shop on 27th and Cherry. Fatime does a great job for a low price.

  9. Ian,

    I notice you have been following these comments.

    I would love a diner or coffee shop on Jackson where there are plenty of vacant buildings. Just a thought….

    • I’m with you. I would love nothing more than a diner around here. Not a super fancy diner just a regular breakfast, lunch, dinner diner place that are a dying bread nowadays.

      • Oh please Fez, Med Mix really wasn’t THAT good – personally, I would have preferred if Honey Bee Bakery could have made a go of it; that was some tasty stuff there. And why assume Ian had anything to do with the arson? Maybe Bezzaz wanted to get out from under a failing business and took the good ole’ “torch it for the insurance money” route – I mean that’s just as plausible an explanation as is yours.

      • As long as we’re making requests, it’d be great to have a nice dry cleaner within walking distance. My wife and I have been hoping to see a dry cleaner pop up at the lower retail level of whatever replaces the auto shop or the new apartments down at the corner of 21st and Union.

        The auto shop already looks better at least. I’d love to see the building razed while we’re waiting on it’s next life though. At least it’s an improvement over that auto version of hoarders that was going on over there. I know I was seeing the same broken down cars in their lot for months, and I personally reported probably 20 of them to the city for towing when they were abandoned in front of my house. They’d get the sticker from the city, and he would just move them somewhere else to rot for a while. Now it’s much easier for people to park in this area (without including the new parking).

        Will you be offering monthly-parking in that lot while it’s open? I could see that being pretty helpful for neighbors struggling to park in the area, especially once the new apartments finish getting built.

      • Monthly Parking. That’s a great question and I’ll bring it up with the people at Diamond. They seem pretty responsive. I think if you call them they will accommodate the request. Just FYI – we plan on really cleaning and painting the lot and structure. I won’t leave it an eyesore. I think we’ll get some shorter term tenants in there soon.

      • Ian, I am glad to hear you’ll be sprucing up the old building! It will be nice to see it touched up. As it is, old gas stations do make interesting little coffee shops and diners, but I think we all know that particular building probably isn’t up for that.

      • Ian, I live in the area and have always wished that lot could get gutted/cleaned up. I think you’ve done wonders for the CD community so far, so please keep up the good work and don’t leave it an eyesore, as you have said/promised.

        Keep it up dude.

      • PLEASE give Judkins St Café a home! They were kicked out of their last place (on Judkins…obviously) because a bunch of fancy apartments moved in. Michael is a wonderful owner who made a mean veggie scramble and a great effort to be an active community member. It was the best breakfast place in the central district and I’m pretty sure they’re looking for a new place without absurd rent. Show the community you care by welcoming back our favorite little café and I think you may gain some fans.

      • Justin’s cafe was great! Unfortunately I am not what I can do to help. I’m not involved in the restaurant business nor don’t have any restaurant space for lease.

      • Ian, is the repair shop in any shape that it could be used as a couple of different pop-ups over the next few years?

  10. I, on the other hand, am not that attached to all the derelict buildings in the 23rd and Union neighborhood. Quite frankly, I welcome the opportunity to get some new businesses in that section of our neighborhood–they are sorely needed.

    While I don’t wish bad luck on Lopez, the building was clearly for sale, so if Ian didn’t buy it, someone else would have done so.

  11. I am very happy to see that shitty auto shop go away. it just looked super creepy. It would be nice to have brunch/dinner place with outdoor sitting around that corner! I can’t wait to see the new development!

    • How about a brunch spot called Cliche & Luxury. They could serve $15 ‘craft’ cocktails by guys with waxed mustaches wearing vests. Plus they would make great advertisers on CHS Blog. I bet you’d love that.

  12. IF you dont think Ian has done wonders for the neighborhood you are on crack. Just Ikes and the car wash alone are LIGHT YEARS better than that corner has been for the 23 years Ive lived in Seattle. Medmix was barely decent and was usually a total shit show when I would go in there.

    I’m glad the sanford and son car lot is gone. That shit was awful. If we could just demolish the old post office we’d be cooking with gas.

    Props for having the cash to get some shit done around here.

  13. I suppose we value different things. Some of us liked our quiet neighborhood, culturally simulated area, gardens, simplicity and friendly neighbors, affordable housing, community feel, supporting local businesses. And some of us just want everything to look the same, convenience, rich businesses that eliminate the roots of an already young city that was the home of earth conscious people, musicians, artists, something to work up from. Note it’s just turning into another place to fill up with cars and people new to this city. I am not into gentrification. That’s the reality. The cd will be filled with people who love it for different reasons and never knew it. For me, it’s sad it’s losing its charm, or that the new situations that are happening aren’t unique to the neighborhood that existed, we have beer, we have coffee, there will probably be more arsen, we have white people, a liquor store, grocery store, bike shop, indie radio station, corner store…. I’m sorry for those of you that haven’t been happy here, it’s unfortunate.

  14. I’m not sure if anyone still follows this thread but I thought I’d put it out there that Sam the taco truck guy is BACK. Not at 21st & Union but at Ike’s at 23rd & Union. Enjoy!