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The three-way race to open first E Olive Way pot shops has two winners

Uncle Ike’s E Olive Way project

The state still has licenses to issue but the three-way race to open for two available retail spot spaces on E Olive Way appears to be over. Judging by the latest updates from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board and City of Seattle construction permits, CHS can declare two winners.

Congratulations to the pot purveyors at The Reef and to another familiar face in Capitol Hill pot — Uncle Ike’s.

A liquor and cannabis board spokesperson confirmed for CHS the withdrawal of the licensing effort for The Bakeree to move from Georgetown to 1351 E Olive in the building currently home to Pie Bar and Speckled and Drake where John John’s Gameroom closed last year.

That leaves a venture from Uncle Ike’s Ian Eisenberg and the SoDo’s The Reef as the sole applicants vying for E Olive Way licenses.

In November, CHS reported on the confluence of federal, state, and city regulations that resulted in the peculiar E Olive Way land rush. The result was a tiny rush of applications following a change to city regulations surrounding pot stores made in January 2016 that reduced the minimum distance the stores must maintain from places like parks and libraries from 1,000 to 500 feet and established that two stores can open near each other, but a third must be at least 1,000 feet away.

Behind the scenes, a real estate rush was also kicked off. The Reef’s proposed home sold for $1.4 million last June. In September, Eisenberg paid more than $2 million for the former law offices next to the Crescent. Real estate investment firm Teutsch Partners then snapped up the building home to Pie Bar, and the Speckled and Drake bar for a whopping $4.3 million but, with The Bakeree’s withdrawal, that building now apparently won’t immediately be part of the coming pot boom.

But the other players appear to be moving solidly forward — even with a new complication in the neighborhood.

In December, CHS reported on plans for the International Montessori Academy to open a new facility in the former Chinese restaurant space in the 1700 block of E Olive Way. City officials probably won’t have to get out their measuring sticks to determine if the planned pot shops are beyond a 1000-foot buffer around the academy — the new venture is technically a child care facility focusing on bilingual and immersion in both Mandarin and Spanish for toddlers as well as pre-schoolers up to kindergartners, not a school. Same goes for the expanded Harvard Avenue School across the street.

Undaunted for now, The Reef ownership, which also operates a store in Bremerton, has engaged big-time architects Olson Kundig for the “partial tenant improvement for mercantile use” set to transform the building currently home to Amante’s at E Olive Way and Denny. UPDATE: A representative for the project declined to comment during this early permitting stage.

Eisenberg is also beginning the planning process for construction to upgrade the two-story former law offices he now owns at 1411 E Olive Way. We asked the pot entrepreneur why he is interested in opening a store on E Olive Way, his third within a few miles of each other across the Central District and Capitol Hill.

“I’ve always lived around the Central District, Capitol Hill, and First Hill,” Eisenberg said. “It’s my hood.”

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9 thoughts on “The three-way race to open first E Olive Way pot shops has two winners

    • I made the naive decision to buy a slice of pizza from the Amante window the other night. Honestly, how can they look themselves in the mirror, serving that dry, withered, lukewarm crap? It’s appalling.

    • Believe it or not, I have heard from a very reputable source (a former employee) that place is or at least was ran by some mob types.

      • I used to go in there and they wouldn’t have enough cash in the till to make change. They also had “for display only” slices for a while, and counter girls that didn’t know how to use the register.

  1. Amante is dead. The lights are out. Good riddance, but the ring of litter surrounding the place was one of the only things keeping my rent almost affordable. I’ve only eaten their pizza once, even though I walked past the shop hundreds of times, mostly to get to Dinos Pizza across the street.