UPDATE: The Seattle marijuana district is taking shape. While it’s not officially called the marijuana district, we like to thank of it that way. So far, there are 3 recreational marijuana stores in the immediate area: Ganja Goddess, Cannabis City, and the Seattle Cannabis Company. You can find these shops and other shops in the city by viewing the Seattle marijuana stores guide.
When the Seattle retail marijuana lottery winners were announced early last month, two areas emerged with the greatest concentration of possible cannabis shops: Ballard (Northwest Seattle) and the Industrial District area (just South of Downtown). This comes as no surprise because, I-502 retail zoning regulations forced recreational retail marijuana applicants to apply in specific areas, away from tourist destinations, schools, parks, etc.
As soon as the I-502 retail cannabis lottery results were announced, we created this map which made it clear to us where the future of marijuana in Seattle would be most likely be located. Although Ballard could be home to as many as 4 recreational marijuana shops, the Industrial District with the possibility of 8 stores, is the clear favorite to be the Seattle Marijuana District, or even a non-traditional “Little Amsterdam.”
The day after the lottery results were announced, we took a walk downtown to the Retail Core and boarded the convenient light rail train. After about 5 minute ride south of downtown, we disembarked at the SODO station. Our journey had begun to find the clues and piece them together, to get a better idea of what the future of marijuana in Seattle might look like.
The Industrial District is the principle industrial area of Seattle. The district is bordered by Elliot Bay and the Duwamish Waterway to the West, and I-5 to the East. Pioneer Square resides just north, while Georgetown lies to the South.
The Industrial District is probably one of the least attractive areas of Seattle. And in some places, it can be downright ugly. Extra wide throughways with loud semi-trucks, cut through sparse vegetation, alongside mainly plain-clothed buildings and warehouses. Long cargo trains frequently enter the area with a clanky sound of their own, topped by the high pitched screams of their horn, as they snail pace through the ordinary intersections. Besides workers in the area, no one really stays for long. Just passing by, really rings true.
But, amidst this industrial wasteland of sorts, lies an interesting sort of beauty. This beauty has less to do with the geographical location and the existing buildings and structures; but more with what people have done with the geographical location and the existing buildings and structures, which opens the mind to possibilities only limited to the imagination.
For example, the Orient Express Chinese restaurant on 4th Ave creatively operates out of several train and caboose cars, and the pillar supports under an overpass and an office building in the SODO area, are canvases for art and design. Because of these examples, and the potential for seemingly endless development, the Industrial District has been coined as an up and coming, and trendy enclave.
The Seattle Industrial District reminds me of a part of Amsterdam, and one reason I can envision the potential of this area, and even the possibility of calling it “Little Amsterdam.” Forget all of the photos you have seen of cute, little, old canal houses, lined up against lamp lit canals, and worn cobblestone roads. I’m talking about an area just north of Centraal Station (main train station), known as Kinetisch Noord or NDSM-werf .
Kinetisch Noord is a city sponsored art community that is quickly becoming a center for underground culture and events. It is located in an old shipyard and accessible by a short ferry ride. Industrial sculptures, a gigantic man-made seesaw, and street art, litter the area outside a massive warehouse which is home to hundreds of studios for artists, designers, creatives, and business owners. The warehouse also includes a theater and a breathtaking plywood skatepark which looms from above. MTV liked the edgy area so much, they turned an old nearby industrial building into its European headquarters; and a housing developer turned shipping containers into student housing.
This is the type of potential I see with the Industrial District of Seattle. An industrial playground of possibilities, only limited by the imagination. Is there a better place for a marijuana district, than a place that encourages imagination?
Most of the Industrial District recreational marijuana lottery winners are concentrated in two main areas. One area is at the corner of 4th Avenue South and S. lander Street, just around the corner from the SODO light rail station; and the other area is on 1rst Ave South, mainly south of S. Lander Street.
Possible recreational marijuana stores aside, the area is already home to 4 medical marijuana stores. If all retail marijuana applicants are okayed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, there could be a total of 12 recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries in the area. In addition to the weed stores, there is already a cannabis analysis laboratory, a hydroponics equipment store, and headquarters of the world famous cannabis food truck: Magic Butter.
The area has also started to become a nightlife hub with the music venue known as Studio 7, the new arrival of the high end speak easy lounge Aston Manor, Hooverville Bar, and Showbox in the SODO area. Other businesses of note include the Silver Platters entertainment store, a cigar shop, and a small warehouse known as the K.R Trigger Building which houses studios and desks for artists, creatives, and businesses. Small cafes and coffee shops are scattered throughout the area.
What is especially enticing about this area, is the fact there is a lot of space available for additional nightlife venues, cafes, restaurants, food trucks, and other businesses, that may cater to the recreational marijuana crowd. It’s seems like a cannabis hub waiting to happen.
And don’t forget the potential of marijuana tourism. Tourists who visit Seattle, are just a short ride on the light rail, bus, cab, or even a long walk, to the hypothetical Seattle marijuana district. Tourists can hang out in the district, dabble is some of the offerings, head back to pioneer square for dinner and an evening underground tour, and retire to their hotel or hostel. This cannabis district creates an interesting allure for Seattle tourism and adds another reason to visit Seattle.
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