For months now the Seward Park/Columbia City neighborhood has buzzed with the question — when will the new Third Place Books-Seward Park bookstore open? In search of answers, I went to the new location at 5401 Wilson Ave. S. to take a look.
Robert Sindelar, managing partner at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, met me there and gave me a quick tour. We had a hard time making ourselves heard above the buzz of saws and the pounding of hammers, but never mind — it’s looking good, and could open its doors in April.
This store, taking shape inside the shell of the former Puget Consumers Co-op building in Seward Park, will be the third in the Third Place Books chain.
Owned by business visionary Ron Sher, the existing two stores, Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park and Third Place Books in Ravenna, showcase Sher’s concept that the best bookstores combine good business and good community building. Not just a bookstore, but a place to get coffee, work, socialize, gather, eat and last but not least, discuss and browse books — a sort of community commons, a meeting and gathering place for multiple age levels.
This concept has ensured success for the first two stores. The Seward Park store will be all that and then some, because the store’s managers and owners are creating an all-new store inside the old PCC.
The store’s 7,000 square feet will feature an espresso bar, a full restaurant called Raconteur (breakfast, lunch and dinner), a full bar downstairs, an event/reading space capable of accommodating up to 100 people, and books. Sindelar estimates it will stock 15,000 to 20,000 titles and 50,000 units (individual books). There will be a separate children’s department.
As with the other stores, the stock will consist of both used and new books — approximately 50 percent new, 50 percent used.
The renovation budget is about $1.4 million, Sindelar said.
The store’s most distinctive architectural feature is its arched roof, uncovered when the renovators knocked down the dropped ceiling and found both the ceiling and the original wood trusses. Now the interior ceiling is clad in beautiful overlapping wood, like a warm wood floor. Skylights let the light in.
Sindelar and Sher had scouted locations in the South End and in West Seattle (disappointed groan from this West Seattleite). Then they learned that the PCC was planning to move from its Wilson Avenue location to Columbia City.
Ka-ching. The Ravenna store is in a former PCC location, and that building was purchased from the co-op. Feelings were cordial between both parties.
From a traffic standpoint, the neighborhood already knew the location, and how to find the parking lot (yes! Parking!!!).
The restaurant will be run by Bill Coury and Brian Vescovi, owners of Flying Squirrel Pizza in Seward Park, Maple Leaf and Georgetown. In an email, Couri wrote that the restaurant will feature “upscale pub food with a global flair. … The bar downstairs will have 20 beers on tap with 6 dedicated German beers, private dining rooms, and plenty of flat screens to catch your favorite game.”…