Gentrification Story: The Crocodile in Belltown
The music scene Seattle was known for is fading right before our eyes.
The Crocodile, a staple venue in the city that's been around since the early 90's, is nearly erased with just a couple of panels left to be painted over.
The iconic pattern is fading like the Back to The Future kids in a polaroid.
Photo by Beck Keller
The Croc won't be closing altogether but are being forced to move locations after the owners attempted to buy the property, and were refused. It was suspected the building owner had been planning to sell for a while, even sending in a team to remove the vintage cement torches that helped signify a historical landmark. Sources say, one of the local bar owners saw it happening and gave them hell for removing the fixtures and as nothing could be done, he asked if they could give him one of them...it's still above his bar to this day. Removing fixtures from the exterior of the building would prevent it from being easily verified by historians as a landmark and therefore no longer safe from the Historical Preservation to protect it.
Photo via The Crocodile
For many, this is a frustrating realization that the gentrification plague is going to continue to take out the character in Belltown one by one. Not too long ago, Shorty's and a few other local bars were petitioning to deem this particular strip on 4th as a historical landmark to protect these buildings. Due to continuous contracts being shuffled around, when the locals once thought they'd succeeded in preserving the block, it eventually fell through. Thus, Shorty's, the famous pinball bar where Anthony Bourdain once filmed his show "They Layover," has had to relocate. Mama's, a once staple Mexican restaurant on the corner of 4th and Bell, has closed permanently.
It's a relief that The Crocodile will be continuing its legacy at 4th and Wall but just from the outpouring of comments on their last few social media posts of taking down their signs, you can visually see the heartbreak from bands, patrons, and Belltown residents.
Belltown Bartenders, coffee shop regulars, servers, cooks, and small business owners, all have to watch the signs coming down slowly over the years, as corporate takeover sweeps in like the "Nothing". Most will say, it's an impending issue that we can't do anything about. As if the concept that monster-sized corporations will one day be all that's left and individuals who dream of opening their own small business will one day face the same demise so what's the point in trying to save it from happening? Well, how boring would a world be if all of it was the same thing city by city? As if every town was a carbon copy of the one you just left. The same sandwich shop, the same coffee shop... sounds like a Stephen King novel. To see the big picture takes imagination but it's not that far fetched to believe this is ultimately where we will end up if we don't start shopping locally and supporting small businesses. There should be room for us all. Development without displacement.
Goodbye to another historical venue location, we all raise our virtual glass as we leave behind the musical ghost riffs of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Meat Puppets, Cheap Trick, Talib Kweli, Dick Dale, Beastie Boys, and Ben Harper to name a few.