Capitol Hill nightclub claims rising rents force move....to Montlake

A Capitol Hill hot spot is moving, and owners say they blame the always changing Seattle.

The sound of silence on 11th Avenue is deafening.  That "Purr" that has been humming for years has gone quiet at least for now.

"Twelve years is a long time to be here," said Barbie Roberts, who owns the nightlife hotspot.  "It's been one challenge after another."

You see Roberts says she never intended to be a nightclub that would draw dignitaries and fundraisers over the years.  She wanted to be a neighborhood bar.

Roberts intended to continue on - until her lease renewal came back. 

"The landlord proposed a 60 percent increase to my rent, and I objected," she said.

Matt Basta, her landlord, disputes the numbers but does acknowledge he sought fair market value for the spot. Both he and Roberts got separate appraisals, and he says he met her in the middle.  But it was still a monthly rate increase worth thousands of dollars.

So Roberts looked outside her Capitol Hill home.

"When one door closes, a new one opens up," she said.

It turns out a landlord was looking to fill a vacancy at the old Montlake Ale House on 23rd.  Roberts jumped at the chance, she says, to move to the "backside of Capitol Hill."

Her new neighbors, in the largely residential neighborhood, were quick Wednesday to welcome Purr. 

Jeremy Buben, who works at the local antique store, said, "It should revive the neighborhood a little bit and provide some foot traffic." 

Carla Leonardi, who has owned and operated Cafe Lago for 27 years, was smiling at the prospect of a new next-door neighbor. 

"I know it's a pretty successful bar up on the hill," she said. "I'm excited. I can't wait for them to move in. It will add vibrancy in the neighborhood that we need."

Roberts says she plans to get back to her roots in Montlake, with earlier hours, a full menu, and a more casual, neighborhood vibe. 

"We're also going to tap into the Husky crowd," she admitted. 

But after noting that her cat-themed bar would be amidst some dawg fans, she laughed and said, "You will see how we can blend!  We embrace diversity."

Purr hopes to open in its new location within a month.  Basta said he's already found another tenant willing to take the Capitol Hill location.

© 2017 KING-TV


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