Roosevelt Way between 45th and 50th has always been a bit bleak. It’s just a lot of asphalt in one place, not a lot of vegetation. But I’ve spent quite a bit of time there anyway because its home to Trader Joes, Half Price Books, and the Bombay Grill, by far my favorite Indian in Seattle. I’ve been passing by Tubs for years. I was mildly curious about what it was, but not enough to investigate. My first guess was that they sold Hot Tubs, but it didn’t really look like a retail venue. I’m not sure what it looked like.
And then it was closed to make way for a mixed-use residential development. I don’t remember when I first noticed all the graffiti, but a little internet research suggests it was around Spring last year. This is from the Tubs Seattle Flickr page:
In March 2009 The Free Sheep Foundation struck again, this time adopting the doomed Tubs building in Seattle’s University District [slated to be demolished later this year]… Highlighting graffiti-style murals by over 20 artists … FSF would like to invite the public to view this artistic intervention with the same heart as viewing cherry blossoms in Spring. This temporary project is meant to serve as a beautiful display of color in the waning days of a building’s demise …. In partnership with the property owners, we offer this gift to the neighborhood and the world, embracing our rapidly transforming urban landscape.
This recent piece from Q13 Fox suggests it’s a gift that some of the neighbors could have done without. Its now more than a year later. The proposed development stalled or fell through. The notice of a proposed land use action is gone. And the temporary installation seems to be permanent. I suspect for some, its a guest that’s outstayed its welcome. Fun at first, but now they want their bathtub back.
Tubs apparently took over the premises in 1982 and operated a spa offering tanning and massage services, as well as private hot tubs and saunas in rooms that rented by the hour. Prior to that in the 1970s it housed The District Tavern and Fotomat Drive-thru. It’s all very familiar. A local landmark being closed and sold for development, and the development falling through. The options at that point seem to range from demolishing the structure and fencing off the site through, well, this, with various shades of boarded up and tagged buildings inbetween. It’s a tough choice, but given those options, I know which I’d prefer.
But then again, I don’t live next door.