In 2016, the Seattle City Council relaxed some of the zoning laws governing where cannabis dispensaries could open. Now, two-and-a-half years later, Capitol Hill is about to feel the effects of those changes as two new pot shops move into the neighborhood. Seattle law dictated that weed shops have to be at least 1,000 feet away from schools and playgrounds, but the zoning change shrunk that distance to only 500 feet for parks, libraries, and transit centers, opening a few spots of emerald-tinged opportunity around the city. The Council is hoping to avoid “Little Amsterdams,” or pockets of weed shops around the city developing due to the restrictions that weed shops face.
Both dispensaries will set up shop just a few hundred feet apart on East Olive Way, in an incredibly dense section of the neighborhood. This will double the number of stores in the neighborhood and bring legal weed within four blocks of Broadway.
The first location to win permit approval, back in April, was a venture from the people behind The Reef, a popular Bremerton-based dispensary. It will take over the old Amante’s pizza parlor, and the building appears to have undergone renovations. No word yet on whether the new dispensary will keep the massive, blinding digital sign installed by Amante’s, but I have my fingers crossed.
At the end of July, a second shop got approval to open just down the street. The old Funke Law Building, next door to The Crescent Lounge, is going to be a new two-story cannabis joint. Northwest Cannabis, owned by longtime medicinal advocate Jonathan Davis, filed for the application way back in October 2017. Ian Eisenberg, the fella behind the chain of Uncle Ike’s weed dispensaries, bought the building at 1411 E. Olive Way in September 2017 for more than $2 million. Eisenberg owns part of the future shop, and it will eventually become another Uncle Ike’s location. When Capitol Hill Seattle Blog asked him why he wanted to open his third store in the same area, he said, “I’ve always lived around the Central District, Capitol Hill, and First Hill, it’s my hood.”
A third dispensary, The Bakeree, also applied for a permit, but did not get approval. One element that may have affected its chances is a section of the zoning law that allows any two dispensaries to open as close to each other as they like, but requires a third one to open 1,000 feet away. The Bakeree was hoping to open in the building that housed John John’s Game Room; it posited in its application that it believed the 1,000-foot restriction should not apply in this case because the Capitol Hill neighborhood is dense enough to easily support three cannabis businesses. Unfortunately, the city did not agree and turned it down.
The shift in the zoning law potentially also opened spots on Broadway and Madison, but—at least for now—no groups have applied for further permits. Either way, this progress is pretty cool. If nothing else, karaoke at The Crescent and DJ nights at Revolver are about to be extra-lit.