Mountain Mama gives up on 19th Street site

       The empty lot at 19th Street and Henderson Avenue is vacant now, and it's likely to stay that way for a while.

The lot where Mountain Mama was to build a new store is in the foreground. At left is Liberty Cleaners, part of the shopping center to the north, next to which Mountain Mama was unable to obtain an easement. The view is from Henderson Avenue across 19th Street toward the Uintah Gardens shopping center.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The owners of the Mountain Mama organic grocery have given up on their plan to build a new, larger store on the site, co-owner Julie Sasinka said this week.
       The reason was the inability to reach an easement agreement with a neighboring property owner. “We are strongly disappointed,” she said.
       For now, the business will stay where it is, in the strip mall at 1625 W. Uintah St. Mountain Mama's lease there runs out in August, but discussions with the landlord about an extension seem promising, Sasinka said.
       At the same time, Mountain Mama has not abandoned the general idea of building a new store somewhere, and a quest for another location is under way. “Obviously, we want to stay on the Westside,” Sasinka noted. That's where the business has always been, specifically in or near the Uintah Gardens shopping center, ever since her parents, Kent and Sue Sasinka, started the business 30 years ago. The current site is across the street from Uintah Gardens to the south, and the new site would have been across the street to the west.
       The Sasinkas, doing business as Roots LLC, paid $250,000 for the 18,600 square-foot property at 1716 and 1720 19th Street in 2006 with the goal of building a new, larger store that would include a coffee bar and space to hold more refrigerated and frozen items.
       A sign announcing the new store had been posted on the site until earlier this year.
       The project's preparation work included drawing up detailed plans and undergoing a city review. The Mountain Mama submittal to the city included a request for a variance to eliminate nearly all the code-required 20-foot rear variance so the building could be as big as possible. That seemed like a workable idea initially, because there was a public easement for the alley, which is actually part of the 10,800-square-foot lot just to the north that contains a 5,000-square-foot strip mall. But then that easement turned out to be “sketchy,” as Sasinka put it, after which an agreement on new wording could not be reached with strip mall owner Son Kyung. The mall includes his business, Liberty Cleaners.
       Julie Sasinka declined to go on record with the details of the easement dispute or what the failed project effort had cost, but said that backing out at this point was preferable to what could have been a long, expensive legal battle with no clear chance of victory. As it is, Mountain Mama has been “financially set back,” she said.
       Asked about his objection to the easement, Kyung said it would have hampered access to his center and meant the loss of two or three parking spaces.

Westside Pioneer article