Along with my fellow Fremonsters and Wallyhooders, I am gearing up for the 2012 Fall launch of The Fremont Collective.
This high-ceilinged converted warehouse space on Stone Way will hold:
- The Whale Wins: Renee Erickson’s newest restaurant. The built-in wood-fired oven is looking mighty fine and I hear the menu at Erickson’s new digs will be vegetarian friendly.
- Joule – Long-awaited re-opening of the Korean/French hybrid restaurant that was the first business venture for Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi.
- evo Ski and snowboard shop– Opened in 2005, evo will be relocating from their current bad ass spot in Fremont on 36th Avenue. As someone who lives only a few blocks away from evo, I was sad to hear they were moving until I visited their new “even more bad ass than before” digs. The new space will even have a huge dedicated space for ladies, an area that tends to get ignored by a lot of other ski/snowboard shops. Girl power!
- Artwork and installations from talented Justin Kane Elder. I like this guy’s work so much I am commissioning a painting of Chiang Kai-Shek for my living room. My favorite Elder piece at the moment is Mr. T, which you can check out at Revel.
- Skate park – The only indoor skate park in Seattle!
Who is behind this project?
The masterminds of evolution projects are Bryce Phillips, Chad Dale, and Ira Gerlich. They are the same energetic thirty something dudes who transformed The Kolstrand Building from a deserted warehouse space to one of the most frequented spots in the city, Walrus and Carpenter and Staple and Fancy. The same trio also blew up downtown Fremont with restaurant and bar hotspots Revel and Quoin.
These forward-thinking guys have a knack for spotting potential in old abandoned spaces in Seattle’s most sought after neighborhoods and transforming them into hip and visually compelling spaces that entice the likes of Ethan Stowell and Rachel Yang to open restaurants.
In addition to hitting the mountains and riding their bikes, you can spot these guys on the deck of Quoin and frequenting the restaurants they helped set up.
I recently had a chance to sit down with these guys and tour the progress on the Fremont Collective (red construction hard hat and all):
It takes some ballz to follow your goals. For instance, when you poured your heart and soul into the Kolstrand building back in 2008, that block of Ballard was pretty deserted and the economy was starting to look bleak. It seemed like quite the risky undertaking.
Chad: We bought the Kolstrand building in August of 2008 when the economy was shaky. Commodities were taking a beating, but we recognized there was still a need for restaurant and retail space in the Seattle area.
Ira: We have always been tenant driven. Two years before the completion of the Kolstrand project, we were already meeting with potential tenants and we had identified a list of restaurateurs even before then. We knew chefs would love the opportunity to get in on a project from the ground up and have the ability to customize their restaurant.
Chad: We aren’t all that special (RWJ insert: Ya right! Love the modesty, though). The Kolstrand building was a combination of foresight, some guts and a certain element of naivety.
Bryce: In addition to being partners, it also helps that the three of us are also really good friends. We share a love of the mountains and all have a love of adventure. We are also going through a lot of the same life experiences.
You guys seem to have a high concentration of projects in north seattle (Fremont, Ballard, Wallingford). Is that just a coincidence?
Bryce: All three of us hang out in these neighborhoods and know a lot about each of them.
Chad: That was really important to us. If you don’t know the micro-climate in an area, you are in a competitive disadvantage.
Ira: One other differentiator about us is we also try to focus on one project at a time so we can focus on all aspects of a new venture such as financing, construction and design.
Advice for others who want to switch gears and go the entrepreneurial route:
Chad: if you get into something you love, you will find a way to make it work because you will be pouring all of your energy into it. It will give you a focus that will make you persevere more than anything else.
What else can we look forward to form Fremont Collective and others:
Bryce: The indoor skate park is a going to be such a great addition for the community. Dovetail General Contractors, Graham Baba Architects…all of us are donating our time to make the indoor skate park an amazing experience.
Ira: We are also really excited about our Snoqualmie Pass project. We will be providing mixed-use amenities for avid skiers and snowboarders that have not existed up to this point.
To check out The Fremont Collective up-close, check out evolution projects partner Bryce Phillips giving a tour of the new space.
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