Uptown Glassworks is moving to Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood

Uptown Glassworks’ furnaces have burned hot in Renton for nearly 20 years.  - Dean A. Radford/Renton Reporter
Uptown Glassworks’ furnaces have burned hot in Renton for nearly 20 years.
— image credit: Dean A. Radford/Renton Reporter

Uptown Glassworks, which has helped define and create the arts and culture scene in downtown Renton, is moving to Seattle.

The building, where Uptown Glassworks has created works of art for nearly 20 years, is owned by Charles Divelbiss, who also owns the St. Charles Place Antiques on Wells Avenue.

Uptown’s studio manager is Divelbiss’ son David, who has been a presence at the shop since his father and glass-blower Dennis Mullen opened it as an antique shop with a hot shop in 1994.

David Divelbiss said he will miss the “sense of community” that Uptown Glassworks has established with the local businesses – and “the essential decency of all the other business owners.”

“I believe that Uptown was probably one of the catalysts to bring more arts into this region,” he said. “For that reason we’re sad to leave the arts community that we’ve been helping to support.”

But his hope, he said, is that other businesses, such as Arts-n-Carafes on South Third Street, “will continue this legacy.”

Uptown Glassworks has not only sold the colorful glass objects but also through its classes taught students how to create their own. Uptown created the stylish Curvee award for the Renton FilmFrenzy.

Divelbiss expects Uptown will continue the lessons and outreach at its new location in SODO – south of downtown Seattle on Airport Way in Georgetown. It will do so under a new name, SODO Glass Studio.

The studio will occupy the lower floor of the Rainier/Tully’s building visible from Interstate 5. The upper floors house the urban arts lofts.

Divelbiss is helping to oversee the final sale through mid-July and move with Uptown owners Ryan Blythe and Bob Tollenaar. They’re hoping that their customers and community will stop by to say goodbye.

Business has been good at Uptown, especially during the holiday season, says Divelbiss. The shop has a core of about 65 artists who regularly display their works for sale at the shop on Main Avenue South.

But father Charles received an offer that was too good to turn down.

GHY Bike Shop just around the corner on South Third Street was looking for room to expand. GHY would pay double the rent that Uptown is paying, a deal Uptown couldn’t match, David Divelbiss said.

“In this business climate, when you get an offer like that from someone who says they want to be here long-term, you really have to take it,” Divelbiss said.

GHY opened in June 2005. It has four full-time employees and two part-timers – and the need to properly display all its bikes and other products, says owner A.J. Johnson.

The roughly 3,000 square feet on Main Avenue “screams bike shop,” said Johnson.

He plans to open in the new location on Aug. 1, after Uptown completes its move to SODO.

Uptown Glassworks is in the midst of a final sale, with July 14 its final day of operation. It will take about two weeks to move and to make sure all the furnaces are working, Divelbiss said.

It plans to open as SODO Glass Studio by July 29.

Because the square footage in Seattle is similar to the space in Renton, SODO Glass Studio will continue the same operation, he said, including blow-your-own glass classes – and add more intensive glasses.

The shop also will expand its wholesale and custom-order glass lines and work on larger glass installations, Divelbiss said.

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