(SDOT “live” image from Easy Street’s corner at California/Alaska)
As one WSB commenter put it after the kerfuffle earlier this week over the removal of the Easy Street Records awning (WSB coverage here), the big question was – what next? At the time, ESR owner Matt Vaughan said he didn’t know – it was up to the “landlord,” who was the one who decided to take it down. Vaughan has just posted this update as a comment following our original story:
Thanks all for thinking about us and this corner. I’m looking forward to creating another beautiful corner. We know this corner and intersection is special to all of you, I know that maybe more than anybody and I appreciate your years of patronage and good positive thoughts…even when you’re just walking by “all ways,” of course. So, with that being said …..here is the UPDATE.
It was impossible to know what the corner would look like until the canopy was removed. The landlord didn’t know, I didn’t know. I didn’t think it would look good, I knew that much, but what I did know is that it would present some ideas. The canopy had been on the Hamm Building for almost 70 years. Do keep in mind, maybe the big reason that we all loved this corner was not necessarily just the canopy and overhang, but it was the neon signage and under lighting we attached to it back in ’92 or so. I do understand that the canopy also represented a period of time, another era, childhood memories etc.. and that is also why there is sentiment.
When the Alaska St side awning was removed 3 years ago, there wasn’t a peep and that was even more sq footage than what was recently removed. Without good signage complementing the canopy, there wasn’t much of an allure, especially as the years wore on.
I have to say though and maybe some of you could agree.. these last 5 years have not looked all that good. The canopy took some big hits and our neon was continuously broken and under repair. With that being said, I was a proponent in saving the framework and repairing and improving it, but there were some potential issues and unknown costs going down that road too. I am not the owner of the building, the Yen Family is and has been for 30+ years or so. The property manager is WM Mgmt. Neither live in West Seattle, so they may not understand some things we do as residents and inhabitants of the building, but what they were aware of and why they felt committed to demolishing it was that it was essentially red-tagged. It was becoming increasingly dangerous. Lead paint, loose and exposed electrical, rusted and corroded framework. In the end, as vintage and retro as we all like to imagine ourselves, there comes a time where we have to be practical and pragmatic. This was just one of those kind of decisions that had to be made, as difficult as it was for me to surrender to.
We had originally invested $20k into the signage and neon throughout the 90′s … and that doesn’t include the annual repairs over the ’00 years, but retro-styled neon is becoming an old form and more costly as the years go on. As for why I didn’t save any of it, it was just too costly to do so. Neon is brittle, it was literally attached to the flashing and trim, would’ve been an expensive and tedious job.
Keep in mind, when I closed our Queen Anne store, that signage was considered “iconic” as well. It wasn’t really all that special of a building we were in, but we made it seem as though it was. I paid $3k to have it removed before I left the building, I couldn’t let it get demo’d.
The landlords think the storefront looks best without a canopy and they’ve told me as of yesterday that they will not invest in a replacement. However, I need to protect my storefront, I need to allow customers to sit outside our cafe in the spring/summer months, I need to protect our product from the elements during our sidewalk sales. I need to protect all of you when our instore performances spill outside the garage store, I need to ensure that people don’t slip and fall in front of our store during the rainy months, we’ll need sidewalk lighting for passerby’s and our storefront. I need to protect our storefront from the sun, the heat, the rain, the sleet, and snow. The maintenance would be overwhelming without protection, so…I will be putting a design together and will invest in creating an attractive corner…again.
Faithfully Yours, Matt Vaughan