by Justin Carder -
Capitol Hill Seattle
SEATTLE (February 1, 2021) - Capitol Hill gay club R Place has lost its lease and is on the hunt for a new location:
[According to a message posted by the club,] "This pandemic has been tough on ALL of us. R Place has been a staple in the gay community for over 35 years. It was our intention to reopen. However, due to unfortunate circumstances beyond our control, it is with the heaviest of hearts that we are unable to renew the lease at our current location. We are grateful to you all for your years of patronage at 619 E Pine St. Many memories were made here!"
The club's ownership says the club will live on and that a search for a new home is underway, where R Place "will continue to entertain you with our amazing drag shows [and] awesome dancers and DJs who packed the dance floor."
The club's announcement comes after months of closure during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as Seattle's restaurants are able to again reopen for indoor dining but only at 25% capacity while the spread of the virus remains at dangerous levels. Clubs and bars like R Place remain shuttered.
The pandemic has been brutal for small businesses and especially challenging for the neighborhood's remaining gay bars and clubs. In December, Capitol Hill Seattle (CHS) reported on break-ins and squatting that left Broadway's Neighbours trashed and in need of thousands [of dollars] in repairs.
It hasn't been all bad news for the neighborhood's gay bars. Union is working on a classic Capitol Hill four-block move, with plans to reopen later this year. Meanwhile, The Cuff joined the Queer/Bar family to begin 2020.
While landlords have worked on lease and rent issues with many tenants, other venues are up against the prospect of forging new contracts during the pandemic. R Place's neighbor Suika also lost its lease, dealing with a separate family estate landlord last year.
R Place's E. Pine (at Boylston) home has been owned by the Thomas Kramer family for decades. The property is not currently publicly listed for sale, and there are no indications of any permitting activity related to planned development.
The building dates to Capitol Hill's auto row and is said to have been a Ford Model T showroom complete with a car elevator, whose remnants can still be seen inside the four-story structure.
CHS reviewed the history of the club in 2014 as R Place marked 30 years on the Hill. It first opened on E. Pike, where it was a sports bar tavern with pool tables, only selling beer and wine.
The club is owned by Richard Elander and Steve Timmons, who have been with R Place from its roots in the 1990s. (UPDATE: Ownership declined to comment beyond their announcement and to corroborate the details of our report.)
It's not clear what R Place's final day of business was on E. Pine.
Reprinted from the Capitol Hill Seattle blog