Greenwood businesses recovering after March blast | KUOW News and Information

Greenwood businesses recovering after March blast

May 13, 2016

It’s been two months since a gas explosion shook up Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. Most businesses have reopened.

At Rosewood Guitar on 85th, owner Bill Clements coaxed his golden retriever, Jack the shop greeter, to sit still. He remembered the days after the explosion in March.  

“The couple days after was like a big tourist destination,” he said. “People all wanted to see it.”

Some shops were destroyed. Those that survived were covered with plywood. Clements said he’s fortunate: His windows were blown out, but he had no broken merchandise. Last week, his windows were finally replaced.

Clements said community support has been a big help. “The whole community spirit is the thing that has been consistent in Greenwood,” he said. “There’s been the strong neighborhood association, there’s a real nice supportive community of businesses and neighbors so that’s been really good.”

Just two doors up, Emily Korson is still waiting for her windows to get replaced. She co-founded Seattle Re-Creative, a second hand arts and crafts shop.

She said her sales have been down 30 percent since the blast.  “Having a plywood storefront doesn’t help for window shopping for a retail store,” she said. “And just losing businesses like Neptune and Mr. Gyro across the street has slowed so there’s not as much foot traffic.”

Community organizers are hoping for increased foot traffic this weekend during the Phinney Wood art walk. One of the highlights of the event will be the street art that used to cover empty windows soon after the explosion.

Jim Lustig is another Greenwood business owner. He showed off some of the plywood paintings that will be auctioned off during the art walk. There’s a piece that shows a dog holding a flame. Lustig said the artist spent hours just working on the flame.

“And it came out amazing!” he said. “Is it my style of art? No, absolutely not. But I can see the beauty of what he’s doing.”

It’s remarkable considering many of the works came from graffiti artists who normally tag buildings; a nuisance for businesses. But Lustig said they’ve become part of the community. Many of them have even been hanging out in his office. 

“It’s about connecting with these guys, having dinner with them. Walking with them long term. And I don’t know where this is all going,” he said.

If there’s a positive outcome of the explosion, it was the community coming together, including the tag artists. Lustig said he wouldn’t have met them had it not been for the explosion.