The Heart of a Neighborhood

At the corner of 21st and Union in the Central District, this is the kind of small-scale commercial building that forms the heart of an urban neighborhood. They tend to be a little old and rough around the edges, yet have character in both the architecture and tenants that more than makes up for it. Most importantly, they are affordable to the independent businesses that foster meaningful connections between people and place.

The building in the photo above is home to a bike repair shop, a yoga/pilates studio, and a small movie theater that serves food and drinks. On election night the movie theater — Central Cinema — hosted a neighborhood party that perfectly illustrates the unifying role small businesses can play in their community. The video below (via CD News) shows a particularly profound moment from that night, during which a woman spontaneously went up on stage and sang the national anthem. Pretty safe to assume nothing like this happened at the multiplex.

8 Responses to “The Heart of a Neighborhood”

  1. just another dirty renter

    I think 815 Pine is West of Paramount, between the theater and Tower 801.

  2. AJ

    Hey, that’s my neighborhood!

  3. joshuadf

    Awesome. The question is, when the building’s owners get a big-money buyout offer to build More Urban Infill what will happen? I watched a documentary about the Central District quoting many longtime residents saying basically, “I said I’d never leave, but it was just too much money to say no.”

  4. dan cortland

    Same as what’s happening on Capitol Hill, etc. It’ll be torn down. But doesn’t Seattle smart growth dogma say that a 65′ building will be at least six times as good for the neighborhood, with six times as many hip consumers?

    The whole crowd in my bar sang the national anthem that night, but then it’s in a slightly shorter building.

  5. dan bertolet

    Hey DanC, well done detecting my hypocracy about how I want new development to bring density, but I also like the funky neighborhood businesses in older low density buildings.

    Here’s the deal: We have to figure out how to do both. It shouldn’t be that hard, seeing as over history most cities have had the diversity of old and new buildings that allows both high- and low- end businesses to co-exist. Who knows, naybe by the time that building in the photo is redeveloped, the 65′ building at 23rd and Union will be old enough to take the independent businesses.

  6. Jean

    Hey. My husband and I are owners of said bldg, I’ve lived ’round the corner on 20th for 30 years and we have no intention of tearing it down any time soon. We’ve put way too much time, emotion and money in it cleaning it up, earthquake retrofitting, tuck-pointing the brick and such. All the biz owners here can walk to work. How cool is that?

    And yes, I’m looking forward to more customers from the 65′ buildings going up on Union at 14th & 23rd and on Madison. I’m with Dan B, we need both old and new; as well as more people/pedestrians on the streets and patronizing local businesses. Come on over and support Central Cinema, 2020 Cycle, Reel Grrls and the Mind & Body Pilates/Yoga studio. See you here.

  7. Spencer

    Mmmm. I love the taste of cake. and they are a good bank too!

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