“The largest float pod center in North America” has shuttered.
Wellness spa start-up Urban Float closed its Capitol Hill location Sunday, after just under two years of business. According to the location’s announcement, Urban Float lost its lease in the E Union at Madison at 12th Viva Capitol Hill Building.
No company officials have responded to our inquiries about the situation.
UPDATE: We’re still sorting out details, but the company was part of a state Petition for Assurance of Discontinuance case in October. UPDATE x2: The action is unlikely to be related to the closure. A spokesperson for the state attorney general’s office says the petition was part of Washington’s “no-poach” effort to eliminate the clauses from franchise agreements in the state. “No-poach clauses appear in franchise agreements between owners of franchises and corporate headquarters,” the AG’s office says. “The clauses prohibit employees from moving among stores in the same corporate chain, a practice that economists believe stagnates wages.” In October, Urban Float joined a roster of more than 100 chains and franchises in Washington entering into legally enforceable agreements to remove the clauses from their contracts.
CHS visited the Urban Float facility as it debuted late in the winter of 2018 as the company showed off its largest location yet at 4,000 square feet of soaking tubs and relaxation space. Owned and operated by the Bellevue-based company, the Capitol Hill location was ready to embrace the diversity of its new neighborhood. “Urban Float prides itself on creating a culture of inclusivity and all genders are welcome in all our locations,” a company representative told CHS at the time.
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Urban Float with founder Joe Beaudry and investors like Scott Swerland, CEO of Seattle Suntan, was starting a hoped expansion of franchise locations across the county. As of Sunday’s closing, the company’s site boasted seven facilities — including the E Union Urban Float.
On the paper sign announcing the facility’s closure, customers were referred to the Renton Landing Urban Float, “our closest location.”
The closure leaves a challenging commercial space empty. The long wedge-shaped retail space had previously been marketed as a showcase opportunity for a bar or restaurant with at least one big project backing out after making plans for the giant wedge-shaped space.
In 2014, construction of the six-story, 105-unit mixed-use Viva building was held up over a discrepancy between the building’s approved design and its final form. The city required developer Alliance Residential to address a “color siding issue.” The 65-foot-tall building is built on lots formerly home to a paint store, a small parking lot, and the legendary Undre Arms Apartments. The building’s plan stretch back to before the economic downturn of the late 2000s. Its first public design review was held in 2007. CHS first reported on it in 2009. In the meantime, the project changed hands and took years to come to fruition.