Cafe owner: “Looks like Charlestown has won the first round”

So says Charlestown Cafe owner Larry Mellum, chaztowncafe.jpgin an e-mail response to our inquiry about a note that a reader saw posted at CC, saying it looks like the project that posed the most immediate threat to the restaurant’s future is indeed stalled, or maybe even dead. (Background: First word of CC losing its lease was a year and a half ago; the community started rallying to save it last March; most recent Design Review meeting on the Petco store proposed for the cafe site was last August our last report on the project’s nonprogress was in December.) Tonight — here’s what Larry just e-mailed to WSB:

By all indications it appears that Madison Development has pulled out of the project. The Landlord’s agent, Rick Megenity, and I spoke last Friday and that is what he said.

Further, he indicated that Madison has not responded to the Landlord’s requests both in writing or verbally to tell them what is going on. Nor have they been able to meet the formal time lines for development that were laid out in the agreement between them. All that being said, Madison has NOT and I repeat HAS NOT formally backed-out. I don’t however believe that they have to. Because by virtue of their non-performance the contract likely has been breached. What this means without putting words in anyone’s mouth is that the Landlord is likely to proceed in finding some other means of re-development at the Charlestown location. They have indicated that this is how they would hope to proceed. In my conversations with them, we discussed putting some type of multi-use facility here that would include space for a restaurant suitable in size for a “Charlestown-like” location to be included. Although they cannot or will not lock themselves into anything at this juncture, I believe they would like it developed in that way.

So, there you have it. It looks like the community and ‘Charlestown has won the “first round” and by all indications we could be here for a long time to come. If not in our current form it will be in a form suitable for the landlord to receive what he wants — which is more rent out of the property, BUT STILL HERE situated with a couple of other retail and/or office tenants.

Thank you for your inquiry … and to all of West Seattle, thank you for your overwhelming support. It is truly humbling.

Best wishes,

Larry Mellum
Charlestown Street Cafe

We had checked both with Petco and with city planners in the past few weeks; Petco said only that they hoped to stay in West Seattle one way or another, city planners said they hadn’t heard anything in quite some time. (Previous WSB coverage of the Charlestown Cafe situation is all archived here.)

13 Replies to "Cafe owner: "Looks like Charlestown has won the first round""

  • JanS January 30, 2008 (8:45 pm)

    empowering, isn’t it, knowing that one can truly make a difference. I, for one, am glad that Larry, is sticking around :)

  • K January 30, 2008 (9:02 pm)

    my tummy is growling a big HOO-RAY!!!!

  • MLJ January 30, 2008 (10:11 pm)

    This is great news. However, the systemic issues that created this problem in the first place still exist, and so does the threat of this happening again elsewhere.

    West Seattle has a great sense of community and activism. We need to organize and prepare for the next round of developer vs. community.

  • more coffee January 31, 2008 (7:09 am)

    Jan and anyone else who believes they “saved” the Charleston needs to lay-off the syrup… The owner’s of the land can and will do what they want with the property. Just because the poorly conceived and poorly managed permitting effort did not seem to make it past the DPD cannot be attributed to people putting their name on a list at the front door.

    As a 3-5 per week patron of the CC, I’m a big fan and hope the boys can stay long term. As someone who understands (and supports) property rights I will both be not surprised if the CC is ultimately overrun and continually entertained by the whiners and list signers who believe they are making a difference.

  • Rockyraccoon January 31, 2008 (8:41 am)

    Hey, great to have you on board, Dori! Can you get me a deal on some Invisible Fence?

  • Steveed January 31, 2008 (10:47 am)

    Good news, great staff and killer omelettes.

  • Jan January 31, 2008 (11:59 am)

    dear more coffee…I suppose people could not have said a word, could no have brought this to the attention of people. I realize that it’s not a done deal. I realize that this could only be temporary, for however long. I realize that input from citizens at some of these DRB meetings may have had nothing at all to do with the decisions that were made, with the architect pulling out, etc. etc. But hey, if you never get involved, you never know. Kudos to the people who did, and who will again. Involvement is what brings a community together.

    Now…have you tried decaf lately? :)

  • grr January 31, 2008 (3:48 pm)

    damn..NOW where am I going to build my new 8 story condo project??? I don’t want to have to apply for a re-zone.


  • Praying Man-tis-i January 31, 2008 (6:52 pm)

    MORE COFFEE…I signed their petition, and I did make a difference, in spite of what you believe. Perhaps the value of having your voice or opinion heard is short-sighted or insignificant to you, but if nothing more, the owners of CC know they’ve got a supportive community. Yeah, eventually, CC may be forgotten and life will go on, but that’s how life progresses. However, it has a lot more to with other issues than just the property or CC being displaced. First, and foremost, they’ve got the best pancakes around, but there’s also such issues as MORE condos, which I am tired of, to simply the quality life-style CC has provided me and you here in West Seattle. Personally, I can say that CC has been willing to allow me to put up flyer’s beneficial to the community, and that’s not somehting I take lightly. The businesses in this community understand West Seattle and its residents become loyal or passionate in response, thus the signed petition and list of whiners you speak of.

  • MW February 1, 2008 (10:57 am)

    Positive news, to be sure!
    And I’ll read between the lines in my response to comments above. Did the community single-handedly create this current situation with the Charlestown Cafe? Most definitely no. Honestly, the proposed project had so many shortcomings that it was going to have trouble any way you slice it. A suburban-style retail building in our neighborhood just doesn’t make sense anymore.
    So is there more to come? Absolutely. The property owner has clearly said that they want to change what is happening on that site. Our hope now is that the community can participate in guiding whatever this new thing will be. And it would be wonderful if the Cafe could be a part of it. Kudos to everyone that spoke up, carried a picket sign, wrote a letter, or whatever.
    This is just the first chapter of this story – let’s continue to be organized as a community and look forward to what comes next.
    Mark Wainwright
    Admiral Neighborhood Association

  • vonbird February 6, 2008 (1:16 pm)

    So all of us community activist whiners and list-signers should just shut up and give in to the property rights whiners and list-signers because we don’t make a difference?

  • vonbird February 6, 2008 (4:49 pm)

    rockyraccoon … I laughed out loud!

  • Doug February 13, 2008 (10:02 am)

    The Charlestown is our favorite place for breakfast. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed they don’t get pushed out.

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