Greenwood neighborhood about to undergo radical changes as upzoning arrives

Greenwood about to undergo transformation (KOMO Photo)

SEATTLE -- When Frederick’s of Greenwood opened its doors 72 years ago, they had their stream of regulars from the neighborhood.

Housewives out shopping while their husbands took the family car to work had their hair styled by Crystal Kosta’s grandmother, Merle.

Seven decades later, men and women from across Seattle drive to the North Seattle neighborhood to see Kosta. But in February, the shop will close forever.

“The Greenwood business core is disappearing all at the same time,” said Kosta, as she gave a soon-to-be bride blonde highlights. “There are permits and cranes coming our way already.”

Frederick’s is the latest in the string of Greenwood businesses to close. Citing soaring rents and pending construction of high-rises, people who work in the funky business district say things are changing – and not necessarily for the best.

“A lot, a lot of change and um, fingers crossed, it will be good change,” said Erin Lyman, owner of Champion Wine Cellars.

Lyman moved to the business district near North 85th Street a little over a year ago after cranes and development overtook the wine shop’s longtime lower Queen Anne neighborhood.

“Things are very hard for small businesses in this area. Rents are pretty expensive,” Lyman said.

A few doors to the north employees at the Green Bean Coffeehouse say they’re leaving the neighborhood this fall. They cited skyrocketing rents as the reason.

Across the street from the cafĂ©, Kosta pointed out her neighbors who are struggling as well, saying “there’s not a lot of options.”

Greenwood is on the verge of a major transformation as part of Seattle’s upzone plan. Neighborhoods across the city are seeing high-rise towers going up to create more housing.

“We are being rezoned for seven stories, up to seven stories, in November,” Kosta said. “We all saw what happened in Ballard. That’s what’s going to happen here.”

Kosta has started telling customers about their new shop, opening a few miles north in Shoreline. She said it will an improvement because they’ll have a parking lot and not have to rely on a few street parking spaces and a lot that she expects will soon disappear when high-rises go up.

Kosta said her grandmother, Merle, would be proud of her for taking customers’ feelings into account. But, she said, the move is still difficult for her family who has run the shop for seven decades.

“As much as you’re not supposed to let emotion be part of your business, it is,” Kosta said.

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