Warby Parker latest big brand with plans to join Pike/Pine

(Image: Warby Parker Fremont)

A burst of block-long, preservation incentive-boosted apartment buildings has already created hundreds of new — expensive — homes along Pike/Pine below Broadway. The developments are also reshaping the commercial mix for the neighborhood with big name brands and new-era retail showcases.

The next big name to join E Pine, CHS has learned, will be fashion eyewear retailer Warby Parker on a stretch of street that is meshing Capitol Hill development with downtown demographics.

While the company has not yet responded to CHS requests for information about the planned store in the eight-story Excelsior building at Melrose and Pine, permits show plans for a $388,000 buildout of a new eyeglass shop, the third Warby Parker store in Seattle.

The building is already home to a showcase cafe and retail experience from global cycling brand Rapha and a mix of retailers including local concept Stock and Pantry, an Aesop, and an outlet of the Pressed Juicery chain.

Meanwhile, another of the huge preservation boosted developments higher on the Hill is readying a commercial mix that melds the brand showcase concept with the area’s food and drink economy. The Pike Motorworks building by “late summer” will be home to a showcase brewery and beer pub — a major investment from big beer brand Redhook with complicated engineering that has delayed the project by months. Pike Motorworks will also soon contribute to the neighborhood’s smorgasbord with the first Seattle location for Portland-born Salt and Straw.

While it represents only the retail mix for two buildings in the neighborhood, Pike Motorworks’ major Redhook investment and the Excelsior’s luxury showcases and chains and their Bleecker Street feel do seem to be part of a new direction for this part of Capitol Hill. Up E Pine, “contemporary furniture retailer” Blu Dot is also readying plans to join the area in the overhauled auto row-era building formerly home to Area 51.

Back at the Excelsior, more brands are lining up. The building’s latest opening is a new store from beach fashion outfit Marine Layer, the second Seattle location for the San Francisco-based brand. “In the old days, our general strategy for expansion was to open stores in cool places our 1969 VW bus would take us,” Marine Layer’s marketing copy reads. “Then we opened up a store in Chicago and the bus broke down halfway across the Bay Bridge, so we had to reevaluate. Now we just open stores in fun towns that we need an excuse to visit.”

Thanks for visiting Capitol Hill.

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