This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
The intersection at 23rd & Union has a storied past, but also a troubled one. In 2008, after Degene Barecha was killed while working at the Philly Cheese Steak restaurant on the corner, Robert Jamieson wrote a piece in the Seattle P-I recounting the corner’s history in which he referred to it as “Seattle’s intersection of woe.” Two years ago, Seattle PD made a high-profile effort to clear the drug dealers from the corner. More recently, the corner’s neighborhood outreach center was vandalized.
Given all of that, you’d think the City of Seattle would be bending over backwards to revitalize the intersection, on the theory that more “eyes on the street” make for a safer neighborhood.
Alas, just a couple of months after the Beehive Bakery opened its doors in the old Philly Cheese Steak building, it had to close. One reason: the owners were hoping to utilize the building’s built-in drive-through, but ran afoul of zoning codes. As reported in the CD News:
They had hoped to use the drive-through window when they started plans for the bakery, but the old permits had lapsed and new city rules designate the corner as a pedestrian area. After a lengthy re-permitting process, which delayed the bakery’s opening, Jane and Ken found out that drive-through windows are no longer allowed. So they had to go forward without it.
It’s a shame that the Seattle PD couldn’t convince the Seattle DPD that the benefits of having a business in that space far, far outweighed the zoning laws that prevented a drive-through restaurant from operating on the corner. I’m all for limiting car-dependent development, but when you have tiny green shoots popping up on a corner like this, you need to dump as much fertilizer on them as you can find, instead of letting them whither and die.