Developer acquires Bauhaus building, plans half-block of Pike/Pine mixed-use

E Pine from Bellevue to Melrose (Image: CHS)

Another half-block of Pike/Pine has been purchased by an Eastside developer with plans to create a new mixed-use development that will likely push out several long-running commercial tenants and residents of the apartments currently part of the old buildings along E Pine and Melrose.

Bookshop Spine and Crown posted about the project to its Facebook page this morning:

Yep. They sold the building out from under us. June 2013, the whole block closes. That’s Mud Bay, Edies, Le Frock, Wall of Sound, Spine and Crown, Scout, Vutique, and Bauhaus. Our spaces will be a hole in the ground thereafter.


A person with knowledge of the deal said the developer acquired the parcels at Pine and Melrose with an eye toward leveling all of the buildings and starting fresh but has had second thoughts after witnessing the backlash against the lack of preservation in this development at 10th and Union.

(Image: John Feit with permission to CHS)

Details of the sale of the six parcels owned since 2006 by an entity called M&P Partnership are not yet available via county records. It appears the developer is the Madison Development Group. You can see their mixed-use projects in the area here. On that page, Madison lists a ‘Melrose & Pine’ project including 16,240 square-feet of retail and 98,794 square-feet of residential space. In the background lurks a full slate of development incentives in place to encourage the developer to include character preservation in their Pike/Pine plans.

It appears the developer intends to put some of that incentive opportunity to work. Here’s the project description from an early filing with the Department of Planning and Development:

Construct new 7-story mixed use building apartment and commercial with 2 floors of underground parking in conjunction with identified character structures in the Pike/Pine Overlay District.

The filing lists Hewitt Architects as the firm working on the project’s design.

Our attempts to reach Madison Development representatives have not yet been successful.

CHS has learned that the sale and the project plan was announced to commercial tenants this morning and that stores in the area were told they could face closure by June 13th if the planned development goes forward. “The developers want to keep the facades, but the interiors will be gutted and an underground parking garage added, so basically, the block will be a hole in the ground for 18 months following the June closure,” one store owner told CHS.

Smaller structures will also likely be lost including 1524 Melrose, one of the last mound-mounted houses in the area. 

The deal is likely to be one of the most expensive real estate transactions in Capitol Hill history. Late last month, an investor swept in with $14.9 million to buy the large BMW campus of buildings between Pike and Pine with plans to develop a mixed-use building at the site of the former auto showroom. Another sale is expected soon for the Sunset Electric auto row-era building at 11th and Pine. Meanwhile, another showroom is on the market as E Pike’s Mercedes dealership will be on the move by 2013. 

Not every project includes demolishing the old buildings that come along with the Capitol Hill land. Hunters Capital this week announced it had acquired the building home to Area 51 for $3.85 million. Hunters has said its plans are to restore the building’s facade and preserve the building’s character.

Nearby, work is underway on a mixed-use development at Pine and Bellevue.

Included in the Melrose and Pine acquisition is the 1916 masonry building currently home to Mud Bay, Edie’s, Le Frock, Vutique, Scout, Wall of Sound, and Spine and Crown as well as residents of the upper floor apartments, the mound house, the 1917 Dirty Jane’s building home to Warren Knapp Gallery, the 1915 Melrose Building that houses Bauhaus, the worn Emerald City Inn apartments and a Bellevue Ave parking lot.

248 thoughts on “Developer acquires Bauhaus building, plans half-block of Pike/Pine mixed-use

  1. I add my voice to all of those who are outraged about this. I have never been to a design review meeting (shame on me!), but I will certainly be there for this one.

    I’m optimistic that this lovely block can be saved….somehow…because so many people will be saying “NO!!”

  2. You’re talking about ripping out thousands of peoples livelihoods, and replacing it with a big ugly eastside worthy box. Not what people who live here want.

    Money isnt always the best reason to do something, Romney.

    And I would also like to point out, there is zero evidence this thing would improve property values afterwards. Thats just conjecture. Given the area already has pretty high property values, a big ugly retail suburban box right there is going to stand empty fairly long, just like the big ugly suburban boxes recently built in the 500 block of Broadway are standing empty. Then what, the eastside developer gets to write it off as a tax loss, and crime takes back over the area because there’s no people left there who love living near it.

    Take your Republican noise and stuff it up your Republican ass. Thousands of people created culture on that corner over the years, nurtured that corner back from the dregs it was 40 years ago. Now some asshat from miles away wants to colonize and stomp out that culture, because the rules say they can.

    It is a situation that is morally wrong, whether or not it can be stopped remains to be seen.

    But I guess somebody’s got to be the local 1%, congratulations for volunteering your services.

  3. I moved to Capitol Hill almost 2yrs ago and it appears to me city planners and private developers want the streets lined with glassy, impersonal, ground-floor chain-store retail underneath anonymous ‘contemporary’ buildings designed by strip mall architects.

    Hopefully the developers plant lots of trees on the sidewalks now so the facades of these projects are covered by green leaves by the time the cheap materials and kitsch design become obvious. These buildings are all variations of the same theme used in Bellevue, college towns and suburbs across the nation.

  4. Pretty soon all of Capitol Hill will be nearly identical with first floor retail and five floors of residences. Capitol Hill’s heart will be ripped out. And the bummer of it is that all the buildings will pretty much look identical.

  5. Seattle, Seattle, Seattle what is wrong with you? Growth and change are a fact of life. Seattle is a mid-size city growing into a larger city. City planners hope for the day that Seattle while have 1 million residents. This means a great of the old will have to be swept away for the new. The one thing I really love about Capitol Hill is the fact there are buildings from every decade of the 20th century on nearly every single block (this means that we’ll lose earler buildings for newer ones from time to time. Not to mention the owners rights to develop the property as they see fit under the law. Land is so very expensive in Seattle, and Capitol Hill in particular, that one, two or four story buildings are undervalued for the land they sit upon. There’s nothing wrong with a property owner maximizing land values. Also, in America, if noone is building in your area, that means your area is in decline. This is great news for Capitol HIll and property values. I say sit back and relax and encourage new development.

  6. Here’s my letter to them:

    Dear Mr. Gallaugher and Mr. Lee,

    I am writing today in regard to your recent purchase of one of the most vibrant blocks in the Pike/Pine corridor. As an urban planner and someone interesting in promoting livable, urban communities, it was something of a shock to read about your intention to take what is today an active area on the Pike/Pine corridor and mostly raze the buildings while also displacing the businesses that make the community worth living in. Density and redevelopment are meant to augment the community, but not at the cost of key neighborhood institutions. Bauhaus in particular is a focal point of the community, economically successful, and its loss would be a tremendous blow to the community. Even a temporary absence would negatively impact the character of the neighborhood that you are presently trying to capitalize on.

    Realistically, you know that this project will come under severe opposition from the community. Given the wealth of half abandoned buildings and parking lots in the area (1216 Pine St, 1605 Bellevue Ave, the lot around 401-413 E Pike St, the parking lot housing the Honda dealership at 1501-1581 Summit Ave), redeveloping a block that is today well utilized and heavily mixed use (and a clear asset to developers such as yourself) with the idea of building a mixed use development is counterproductive and would have negative impacts on the community. The quality of the mixed use on the block today is not something that can built by design.

    Please reconsider your plans. Bauhaus in particular is important for the social sustainability of the neighborhood and directly contributes to the livability of Capitol Hill. It is the type of “third place” that we should aspire to create, not hope to replace. Bauhaus and the other businesses are important and directly contribute to the local economy and the character of the neighborhood in a way that is more important than the facades of the building alone. What they contribute to the community in their present form is part of why you bought the buildings in the first place and why people are willing to pay to be in the neighborhood. Uprooting them from the community serves no one. Please preserve the Melrose Building as is, complete with a continuous presence of the businesses in the building.

    Sincerely,

  7. And what is that? A gravel lot with a fence around it? Unaffordable apartments right next to the freeway, and a Starbucks? Even if they keep the facade, even if they keep Bauhaus, I’m seeing some kind of slick recap of what happened to the Crocodile in Belltown.

    I wish there was something I could do.

  8. Everyone commenting here needs to do the same. Write them a well articulated letter stressing your opposition and a coherent argument of why it is a really bad idea. I plan to do the same.

  9. You (and a lot of people) have the IMPRESSION that Seattle is growing into a larger city, but census data doesn’t support that. According to the 2000 census, there were 563,374 people in living in Seattle. According to the Seattle city government website ( http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/Research/Population_Demographics/), as of 2011, there were 612,100 residents. 50,000 extra people over 11 years is a miniscule increase. And no justification for tearing down anything. Or building anything. How are all these new buildings profitable? It’s almost impossible to believe the normal rules of profit and loss are at work here. Not only do we lose the city we love, it happens solely for the enrichment of a few who have rigged the system in their favor.

  10. This news really saddens me. I am the cabinetmaker that built a lot of the interior of Bauhaus. In fact it was my very first commission. I was very grateful to the original owners of Bauhaus for their trust in me. Seems like a hundred years ago now.
    The idea that the space will be gutted feels like they will be removing part of my identity. Thanks in advance to everyone that will put their energy into stopping this inappropriate and unnecessary development.

  11. Finally some progress on the hill. The eradication of these single-story blocks of “culture” is long overdue. I suspect that this one will go down just as effortlessly as the Belmont block went down (fingers crossed). These locals won’t stand in the way for long. They have a real effective presence as far as blog comments go but outside of that they mostly roll over (sometimes I’ll see a vehement opposition articulated in crayon on the wall of a restroom e.g.)—and we can all think of a handful of instances where they’ve even SWEETLY handed the reins of their cute cultural institutions over to developers.. Developers with realistic intentions like building valuable property and housing for people with real futures.

    It’s probably all so effortless because these artsy independent Seattle types deep-down have a clear understanding of how ultimately worthless their cute little blocks are in the scheme of progressive thought and action.. They’re aware that the only value these places hold is in securing the social structure that “independent” Seattlites are unable to sow themselves because it’s easier to show up on a corner and eye-screw eachother than actually interact or come up with common interests let alone original thoughts. The Seattle “arts” and “thinking” “communities” are totally fraudulent and I’d feel guilty about having a hand in it’s destruction if I recognized ANY potential in it whatsoever. Put the dozers on cruise control and take a nap!

    I’ll be stoked to see even further dispersion of these hip do-nothings to make room for all my good guys from the burbs to inhabit reliably built units in good locations so they can get some good ground pounding and merry-making made at the all the great local watering holes that are slowly giving way to real human beings as the sleaze flee for Portland where they still get away with being up to absolutely nothing worthwhile on the cheap.

    And to boot, whenever there’s a hint of struggle we just have to tell these local nitwits that we’ll preserve their facade and they’re on board with their own eradication. Wholesale, baby.

    Sayonora—you were reallllllyyyyy hard to kick out of your own home. ; )

  12. I’m very unhappy where I live now in Sunny south Florida although the weather is warm the people are as cold as ice here. I was thinking about going back to my home of Seattle but there isn’t very much Seattle left at least not the parts that made Seattle what it was. Then as my wave of depression hit after reading a memorial letter of a passed friend and being rejected for an older guy with money by the guy I like a friend from Seattle sent me this link. Really? I mean really? My home has been bought by San Francisco.

  13. Strong remarks from a dude who can’t spell or write grammatically correct sentences. I think you’re just bitter about your own pointless existence.

  14. I don’t often comment online, and I like to think that I’m inured to terrible news online, but here I am. If I had to list the top-five places that represent Capitol Hill, Bauhaus makes the list, hands-down. I sincerely hope that this fails. It’s one thing to “gentrify” a vacant lot or a broken-down area, i.e., to create something from nothing. This, though, is like a shot through the heart of Capitol Hill. If developers can raze Bauhaus, what can’t they raze? Enough already! I’m not the most political person either, but I will protest this inane development to its unsuccessful end.

  15. I don’t often comment online, and I like to think that I’m inured to terrible news, but here I am. If I had to list the top-five places that represent Capitol Hill, Bauhaus makes the list, hands down. I sincerely hope that this fails. It’s one thing to “gentrify” a vacant lot or a broken-down area, i.e., to create something from nothing. This, though, is like a shot through the heart of Capitol Hill. If developers can raze Bauhaus, what can’t they raze? Enough already. I’m not the most political person either, but I will protest this inane development to its pathetic end.

  16. this is terrible, one of my favorite buildings. does anyone remember the name of that little bistro 10 or more years ago, i think where le frock is?

  17. Well said – I’m all for development and density. But this block is precious and absolutely essential for the “Capitol Hill-ness” of Capitol Hill. PLEASE don’t ruin it!!!

  18. Their Madison and 23rd development is atypical of today’s poor design and shotty materials. No character whatsoever. Liz Dunn (Melrose Market, Agnes Lofts, etc.) desperately needs to step in and save this mess.

  19. HOW is the city allowing this to carry on? 23rd + Madison??? Barf. I mean – just LOOK at their work…it’s horrible. The only thing going on in these little minds is money, and money. They LOVE Capital Hill? I’m sure — it’s got the best potential for making…..m-o-n-e-y.
    Such a bummer, and the reason why Seattle is getting played out.

  20. How can these Capital Hill iconographic symbols (both the buildings as well as their commercial tenants) be destroyed…and where can their commercial tenants go?? How will they stay in business? How will the old Bauhaus ever afford to pay rent on an equally spacious and quirky coffeehouse in a posh new place? NO! It will be lost! It will all be lost! Seattle, have you lost your beans? You’re off your nuts!

  21. Bauhaus is an icon! Pushing this place out is basically saying you don’t give a fig about culture, Seattle’s unique character, and many other things that Im too mad to articulate. This is not OK.

    Also, redevelopment in the vein of whats happened with the block (on Broadway) at Dilletante & Vivace? bloody hell. One hopes there’s more than the endless mixed use crap, its becoming as predictable and tiresome as strip malls in the suburbs.

  22. Having been born in Seattle in 1948 and noted in studies of the difference between the plating of longer city blocks in Seattle than in the more store block friendly sizes of Portland so Seattle could be a more attractive contestant for the railroad terminus in the Pacific Northwest, I am saddened with how Portland seems to maintain a sense of historic buildings while we tear ours down.

    Having had coffee at The Bauhaus once per week for years, I understand the structural issues of keeping the building as is. However, preserving the brick facade with new reinforced windows which could be the base of the corner of the new 7 story structure, would add a sense of history to a new more functional structure.

    I do find the tear down because it’s quicker and cheaper understandable for those wanting profit. But it is not necessarily in the best long term values of Seattle in my opinion.

  23. First B&O and now Bauhaus? It is nauseating and maddening that this unique block is in such jeopardy. There are so many parking lots and strip malls and dispiriting places and this is what we as a society are going to tear down? It’s a form of civic theft. Liz Dunn got it just right when she said this block is the gateway to Pike/Pine. This block is a bulwark against the monstrous inhumanity of I-5 and the massive scale of the convention center and all the downtown skyscrapers.

    Bauhaus in particular — a favorite of mine and many others I know, for many years — defines a vital place in the public realm, a sort of shared living room on the edge of the hill. The interior has an organic perfection that cannot be duplicated or replaced. It attracts a clientele whose presence makes me feel at home in this town. I consider it historic — timeless, really — but if the powers that be do not consider it so, there may be some other way to save the day. The city could step in to facilitate a transfer of development rights, which would involve upzoning somewhere else where it wouldn’t take out a treasure. Mere facade preservation is an insult in this case. The facade is just right, but it isn’t the soul of that place.

    The other developments by this firm are ugly and graceless.

  24. As a true Seattle native and a Bauhaus Coffee customer for 20 yrs., it would be essy to leave a long rant about the ‘ good ol’ days ‘ of Capitol Hill. But I’ll just enjoy the crazy, fun and unforgettable memories of this block. Capitol Hill is slowly losing it’s heart and soul.

  25. Awesome,preserve the facade and park a 6 story modern strip mall stack on top! All the businesses will still be lost, but we can preserve a fake antique and have a wall to remind us of our folly!

  26. …is the biggest issue and the most difficult to battle. History and nostalgia are strong reasons we like this area (whether you like it or not) and are the reasons a developer sees an opportunity to make a buck. It is very simple. By parking something inside this valuable and original neighborhood, someone will make a lot of money and conversely can participate in the erosion of that very character of place. Complaining about growth is not a reasonable approach, but raising a voice and being vigilant about the honesty of what will potentially replace a commercially viable grouping of shops, neighborhood character is where this energy needs to go. Preservation is important, but not as a means in itself. The Pike/Pine area has benefited from a planning approach from some very talented people, yielding NEW infill projects along existing ones that help balance a scale and variety of visual styles that we all like, are growing to like, and will add meaningful value to the area.
    Let’s hold this developer’s feet to the fire and push them to do better, and not let them come close to giving us the inappropriate architectural drivel that they have foisted on other neighborhoods around Seattle. Because at the end of the day, the developer walks away and has nothing else to do with this stuff. They are in it for a brief moment, but make a staggering impact.

  27. It is such a shame how Seattle does not have any regard for its historical architecture. What is more, is that neighborhood small businesses are the heart of a thriving community. If it is so necessary to hae more residential units, it would sere best to have them interwoven with what is already established, rather than to be shoved in to the not only occupied, but functioning residences, which are in this case independent businesses. Wake up and smell the coffee!