Seattle Courant

Change Please

Broadway News Owner Jim Hamel (center), Larry (left) and Brittany Taylor (right) at their new location, 605 Broadway. Photo by Keith Vance
By Keith Vance
October 1, 2007 12:10AM

"They wanted to go with a national chain," said John Hamel of the previous landlord.
After repeated attempts to contact, the landlord was not available for comment.

Hamel has owned the 21-year old Broadway business for five years. He said he wasn't happy about having to move but said he had no choice.

"Being a business owner is difficult because you don't own your future, the building owner does," said Hamel.

That was true for the Jade Pagoda, The Elite, Jump Espresso Gourmet and Boma Fine Art, all of which have either gone out of business or were forced to move in just the past 12 months.

Hamel is optimistic about the move. He said that the move should ultimately be good for his business because the new space is larger and will allow him to expand his magazine selection by as many as 500 titles, but he said that he and other Capitol Hill business owners are concerned about the direction things are going.

"It's getting corporate and the little guys are getting squeezed," he said.

Opponents of the changes taking place on the Hill call it gentrification, which is the process of tearing down old buildings and putting up new "refined" or "dignified" structures.

One example is the new Brix condominiums being built in place of the Safeway grocery store on Broadway and Mercer. Brix will be a mixed-use building in which residential condos sit on top of retail spaces located on the street level, in the case of Brix, on Broadway.

The four retail spaces in the Brix complex have all been sold, according to Brix Community Sales Manager Javila Schelhorn. She said that the four spaces are to be occupied by Espresso Vivace, Hour Eyes, Dilettante Chocolates and yet-to-be-announced local retailer.

Vivace and Hour Eyes are being forced out of their current location by Sound Transit's light rail. They have the unfortunate luck of being located where Sound Transit is going to build the Broadway station for the Westlake-to-University District light rail line.

What has some concerned is the price tag for one of the new condos. The price range for a condo in Brix ranges from $319,000 to $749,000. Schelhorn said that 80 of the 141 not-yet-built condos have been sold. Construction will be completed next year.

Pike and Pine is changing too. Bimbos and Cha Cha recently moved east to make way for more condos as well, but not everyone is upset about the change.

"I liked the old location, but this area is better for business," said Cha Cha bartender Eric Bacon.
Bacon said the new location is better because the old building was run down, and besides, now Bimbos has burritos and a bar too.

Broadway News employee Carolyn Randall said that bringing in national chains and putting up high-end condos "takes away from the uniqueness of the community. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.