FIRST REPORT, 11:06 AM: We’ve been following the final run-up to the demolition of the former Charlestown Café – and contrary to our most recent information from Intracorp, which plans to build 27 live-work and townhouse units on the site, the teardown is happening now. Just started – thanks to the person who tipped us; the heavy equipment wasn’t there when we drove by around 9 am.
The Charlestown Café closed in April 2011, after its final few years brought a variety of challenges:
Less than three years before it closed forever, it was shut down for five months following a fire in February 2008. That fire happened just days after the café ownership found out a retail-development proposal that had threatened to cost them their lease had fallen through, giving them a reprieve; first word of that proposal had brought a groundswell of public support via a community campaign in early 2007 (in our early days of covering news on WSB). After the restaurant closed in April 2011, a mixed-use-development proposal surfaced but didn’t go far; two years later, the Intracorp plan appeared, and that’s what’s going forward now.
ADDED 12:57 PM: The aforementioned community campaign eight years ago was spearheaded by Mark Wainwright, a former Admiral Neighborhood Association president who has been involved in other community-advocacy efforts along the way too. We asked him today for some thoughts on the end of the line for what was the Charlestown Café:
Was walking the dog last night and decided to wander by… I walked up the not-so-good alley (which I believe is being improved – yea!) and gazed over the old and beaten remains of the Charlestown Cafe.
Its easy to look forward to the demolition, as the building is a mess, but I do remember those breakfasts…
And how important a place it was when people in the surrounding blocks needed a warm place with food and coffee during that big winter storm and power outage we had years ago.
When Petco proposed a store on that site, I wasn’t too excited. I wasn’t a dog owner back then (am now), but regardless I wasn’t excited.
Lot’s of people weren’t excited – for lots of reasons. People wanted the Charlestown Cafe to stay exactly as it had been. People didn’t like the idea of a national retailer. People though a big store and big parking lot was a waste of space for housing. People thought lots of things.
But we managed to come together as a group – and not make it about Petco or other stuff. We came together out of a desire to support our neighborhood, to support our “Mickey Mouse pancakes,” and to show everybody involved in that whole thing that we gave a damn. And Petco walked away.
I learned a lot – about organizing people, about our neighborhood, about Larry Mellum (Charlestown Cafe owner), about the property owner (the name escapes me, but I think they own a ton of Seattle lots and live up in Edmonds). Most of all, I learned that people can make a difference.
I’m not down on this new development – it was going to happen sooner or later, and I’m looking forward to what comes of it. I’ll freely admit that I’m all for building more housing, because I believe that our current high prices (rent and for sale) are (at least partially) a result of high demand and low supply.
But really, I’m excited about the future. Maybe my daughter’s next best friend will live there. Maybe a teacher will live there. And maybe we can all make some new memories together there in the future.
Good memories, tho. And good Mickey Mouse pancakes.
Charlestown update: Mostly gone. pic.twitter.com/IQfVFLTxFw
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) June 3, 2015