Michael Harthorne
The Kolstrand Building, at the southernmost end of Ballard Avenue, is the newest outpost of the neighborhood's retail district

Newly occupied Kolstrand Building expands Ballard retail core

The freshly occupied and rehabilitated Kolstrand Building represents the newest outpost of the Ballard Avenue commercial district. Situated at that street's southern end among a handful of industrial businesses, the building and its tenants are standing at the retail core's final frontier.

The Kolstrand Building, originally built in the early 1900s and occupied by the Kolstrand Marine Supply Company for 80 years, was restored by evo Properties in the past year. In late July and early August, its first commercial tenants – Staple & Fancy Mercantile, Dutch Bike Co. and The Walrus and the Carpenter – moved in.

Julie Kloss, co-owner of Dutch Bike Co., said they are bringing a retail element to a place it hasn't been before, and the Kolstrand Building, located at 4747 Ballard Ave. N.W., is the perfect place for the business.

"Ballard is a hot, hip place in Seattle," Kloss said. "We are seeing a lot more traffic coming down here."

Elwood Thompson, the chef de cuisine at Ethan Stowell's Staple and Fancy, which opened Aug. 15, said one the reason's the restaurant moved into the Kolstrand Building was because it was outside of the main commercial area. They didn't want to be surrounded by the rest of Ballard's eateries, he said.

No one at The Walrus and the Carpenter was ever concerned about the oyster bar, which opened Aug. 9, being further south than most of Ballard Avenue's shops, bars and restaurants, said co-owner Jeremy Price. It will only be a few years before the area fills in a little more anyway, he said.

That expansion and filling in of retail in a historically industrial stretch of Ballard Avenue could be a cause for concern among the neighborhood's residents, Price said.

"It could be viewed as a negative by people who don't like change," Kloss said. "But, you see change all over Seattle. You see change all over Ballard."

David Simpson, co-owner of Ballard Sheet Metal Works, said he is fine with the Kolstrand Building and its tenants; industry is getting squeezed out of the neighborhood anyway.

The owners of the building put a lot of money into it, and he likes seeing old buildings get rehabilitated, Simpson said. Besides, he said he is more concerned about other projects, such as the completion of the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Price said the Kolstrand Building's tenants have been supportive of local industries. The rejuvenation of the building pumped a lot of money into the nearby businesses, such as Ballard Sheet Metal Works and Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel, he said.

Kloss said evo Properties brought new life to an old building. She said she is hoping it will flourish and be a positive for everyone in the area.

Bad Albert's Tap & Grill, along with The Ballard Loft and Rejuvenation Massage, represented the southernmost reach of Ballard Avenue's retail strip before the Kolstrand Building reopened. Bad Albert's owner Steve Katsandres said the expansion of the commercial district will not necessarily mean more business for anybody but a dilution of what business there already is.

Katsandres said he has been on Ballard Avenue for 16 years, back when there was only a handful of other restaurants, such as Hattie's Hat and the Ballard Smoke Shop. Now, the neighborhood is becoming saturated, he said. Every time a new business opens, it's a bar or a restaurant, and he said he isn't sure how much more the area can take.

Regardless, Katsandres said he welcomes the new tenants in the Kolstrand Building.

"But, now that you are here, what are you going to do to help the community?" he said.

Price said some of the concerns he has heard about The Walrus and the Carpenter is that the owners are yuppies or out of touch with Ballard.

Two of the restaurant's three owners live in Ballard, and Price lived in Ballard until his apartment building was converted to condos, he said.

"We are neighborhood people who have opened a neighborhood business that, in turn, is supporting businesses and industries," he said. "We are not some corporate investment group from elsewhere."

For more information on the remodel of the historic Kolstrand Building, click here.

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