Roosevelt businesses say new light rail station wiping out small owners

Gareth Etchells has owned Atlantic Crossing, a popular soccer institution in Seattle for the past 10 years.

In that timeframe he almost runs out of fingers describing his neighbors who are or may be soon shuttering.

“You know Rain City Burgers are going to be out in a year I think. Derby Hair Salon down the street, their block is going away,” Etchells recounts.

The main driver is written on billboards posted by the city just across the street: higher, denser apartment buildings being constructed in the Roosevelt neighborhood.

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They stand in the shadow of a tall crane constructing a new Roosevelt Light Rail station expected to open in 2021.

Atlantic Crossing itself may soon be next, although Etchells says his lease has a renewable 5-year option, but he says the writing was already on the wall in the mid-2000s.

“I think everybody kind of realized that it was a matter of time before the condos started going up and 8-story apartment buildings started going up,” Etchells says.

The pub is known affectionately by soccer fans as the official bar for the Emerald City Supporters, the fan club for the Seattle Sounders. It’s also an official game watch bar for the Men’s USA National Soccer team, and the Seattle Reign.

Etchells says he received several buyout offers for his lease from potential buyers approaching his landowner.

Two of them fell through at the last minute.

The neighborhood near Roosevelt Way Northeast and Northeast 65th Street, was zoned for densification and upzoning as part of HALA, the housing affordability program making its way piecemeal through Seattle City Hall.

Neighbors say the construction has not only made for lots of noise, but it has slowly eroded a character the area retained.

In October 2015, vandals destroyed a well-known history mural in the neighborhood near Atlantic Crossing that was painted in 1989 by late artist Larry Kangas. It could not be restored and is now partially covered.

Neighbors at the time questioned the amount of light in the area during the Sound Transit construction, and were concerned that the decreased visibility bought problems including the mural vandalism.

“It’s been impossible to park anywhere, which has been a nightmare. Just construction and the noise,” neighbor Jamie Sullivan said. “A lot of people are losing work and it just means that more corporations are going to be getting more money, because you won’t have the small businesses around too.”

Etchells says he is hoping he can weave in with potential developers, and says he hopes he and some of his neighbors have a place in a rapidly changing neighborhood and city.

“If it requires me leaving the neighborhood to stay in business,” Etchells says, “that would not be good. I would not be happy with that.”

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