Many thought Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood would be a pot desert, devoid of recreational marijuana stores, because state rules require they be at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks, and other venues frequented by kids. With those requirements, it didn’t appear Capitol Hill offered territory for pot proprietors.
But one of the 21 Seattle applicants selected in the state’s lottery for retail marijuana store licenses has applied for a location in the neighborhood. Sam Burke hopes to open a marijuana store at 15th Avenue and East Republican Street in Capitol Hill. The proposed store would replace a veterinary clinic next to the Hopvine Pub and across the street from Caffe Ladro, a coffee shop.
A Seattle Times news partner, the Capitol Hill Seattle blog, first reported the possibility Monday.
Burke said he was eager to discuss his plans for the possible store, but wanted to wait until his location was approved by the city of Seattle.
“I’ve tried three different locations,” said Burke. “I’m hesitant to make any comments until I know I’m going to locate there.”
Right now, the state Liquor Control Board and the city are both reviewing Burke’s application. The Liquor Control Board gives cities 20 days to approve or raise objection to proposed locations. Burke said he’s cautiously optimistic, but “until we get through that 20-day period, we don’t know.”
Ben Livingston, a pot activist turned real estate broker whom Burke credited with finding the prime real estate, said the fear is that an unknown park or other prohibited venue would ruin Burke’s plans.
“It’s all a little tenuous at this point. It’s uncertain like anything. Hopefully it will go through,” said Livingston. “There could be any number of things within that 1,ooo-foot radius, and I don’t think there is, I’ve mapped that radius.”
According to documents from the LCB, an initial analysis of the corner showed it was within 1,000 feet of the Parkside School Daycare. But Burke and Livingston were able to prove an error with the parcel lines on the state’s map.
A preliminary city review of the location turned up no problems, according to the LCB documents.
In an email within the documents, Cherie MacLeod, the city of Seattle’s marijuana coordinator said “nothing obvious popped up” as far as problems at that location, “but it’s possible that there’s an unfound disqualifying business/location.”
If Seattle approves Burke’s application, Livingston said, a group of investors will buy the veterinary clinic. How much will they pay? “It’s above market rate, let’s just say that,” said Livingston. Burke plans to rent the space. According to the LCB documents, he’ll be the sole proprietor of the store.
Capitol Hill seems ideal for a pot shop. A nightlife hub, the neighborhood is among the youngest and most densely populated in Seattle, according to census data. About 13,600 people 21 and over live within a half mile of Burke’s proposed location, more than any of the six Seattle stores already licensed by the Liquor Control Board.
Of Seattle’s licensed stores, Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop in the Central District has the most people within a half mile with about 9,750. Fewer than 50 people live within a half mile of Ganja Goddess, which opened recently in the Sodo Neighborhood.
Burke said he should know if the city has approved his application next week.
Until then, “I’m one of those people where if you talk about it, you’ll jinx it,” said Burke.
Times researcher Gene Balk contributed to this report.