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U District tavern, city end dispute
Seattle Times staff reporter
An agreement between the Blue Moon Tavern and the city of Seattle will help put an end to the months-long public bickering between the two.
City officials say the University District landmark, on Northeast 45th Street, has been home to drug activity and that tavern employees often did little to stop it. The city last year successfully fought Blue Moon's application for a hard-liquor license and — unsuccessfully — pressed tavern owner Gustav Hellthaler to sign another agreement. That agreement, he said, would have required uniformed security guards.
On Friday, the city and Hellthaler signed a different agreement, which Hellthaler characterized as one of "principles," not "details." He said the guidelines mostly reflect what he's already doing — maintaining security at the tavern when it's busy, and following laws.
But one new provision will require the tavern's staff to call police to report anyone thrown out on suspicion of criminal activity, Hellthaler said. Before, workers would dial 911 only when they were certain a crime had occurred, Hellthaler said.
Jordan Royer, an aide to Mayor Greg Nickels who helped broker the deal, said good-neighbor agreements are typical between the city and businesses that serve alcohol.
The essence of the signed agreement — a desire to reduce crime — does not differ from that of the initial proposal the city presented to Hellthaler, Royer said. What is different is that the new document does not involve as many specifics.
"It's based more on outcomes than running someone's business," he said.
Nickels will not fight the renewal of the tavern's beer-and-wine license later this year, Royer said.
But the agreement will not stop Hellthaler from selling the tavern he bought in 1982.
The tavern is rich in history, a place where poets such as Dylan Thomas and Allen Ginsberg drank.
"It's not the same Seattle as when I was here 25 years ago," he said. "It's gone from being a very clever, working-class town to a very tedious, bourgeois city."
So if he gets a good offer, Hellthaler says, he will sell and move on, leaving behind the tavern to continue his life as a carpenter — here or elsewhere; he hasn't decided.
Charlotte Hsu: 206-464-8349 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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