$3 million sale of Broadway post office building a harbinger of change on Dick’s block

Given the uncertainty around the state of the United States Postal Service, you can pretty much bet that a $3 million acquisition of the building the Broadway post office calls home isn’t about your future mail service and retail needs.

“The two block area is going to change with the light rail station right in front,” said developer Maria Barrientos who is working on a new apartment project on the back of the block along Harvard Ave E. “Just the pressure for density there. I think it’s going to be really exciting.”

The Daily Journal of Commerce broke the news on the acquisition (subscription) last week but details are scant. County records show a $2.95 million price tag and a buyer listed only as 101 Broadway, LLC. Corporate records for the LLC are a dead-end — no officer names are included in the record.

Who the buyer is — and their intent for the property is a mystery. CHS reported in May on ongoing talks between the property’s previous owner and USPS to secure a new lease for the post office. “For many years we’ve been trying to find another location,” a postal official said. “It’s small, old, there’s no customer parking, no employee parking, and we have to rent space offsite to park the trucks. We just haven’t been able to find a replacement. It’s tough to find space in the Broadway area. That’s not to say something might not change, but there are no plans to close or consolidate.”

CHS erroneously reported that the post office’s lease was due to end later this year as we were told by a representative from a community group concerned with the office’s future. Postal officials say the current lease ends in 2015. USPS officials have told CHS the service hopes to keep a retail presence in areas that lose facilities. Though the letter carriers and the vehicle fleet at 23rd and Union are moving, residents could still be able to meet their mail needs either in the current space or a nearby spot, the officials said. Another possibility is the post office being part of any future development.

To develop the property, the acquirer will likely need to also acquire an adjoining parcel. According to county records, the adjoining building to the north of the post office remains in the hands of its long-time owner.

Change on the block is a certainty. The property around the light rail station is about to begin a public development process that will lead to the creation of new housing and retail around the transit facility when it begins service in 2016.

Barrientos, developer of the Chloe and the Packard Building, is working with long-time Capitol Hill land owner Ron Amundsen to develop his Harvard Ave E property into a 39-unit “boutique” apartment building directly behind Dick’s Drive-In.

“Instead of competing with large buildings with smaller units, we’ll have larger units with more space to live,” Barrientos said. “It will be a building for people who live on Capitol Hill but need a little more room but don’t want to move away,” she said. The six-story project will also likely take advantage of the city’s affordable housing incentives allowing a ten-foot height bonus in the mid-rise zone.

Barrientos said Amundsen also owns the old Hollywood Video building on the block, empty since the chain moved out suddenly in 2009, and is weighing an overhaul of the old masonry building versus a new development.

Meanwhile, what the future holds for Dick’s in the middle of all of this is also up in the six to seven-story air. Its parcel is in the hands of another long-time Broadway land owner. CHS, a fan of density done right, looks forward to a Broadway of the future with a 75-foot-tall Dick’s.

32 thoughts on “$3 million sale of Broadway post office building a harbinger of change on Dick’s block

  1. I used to live right behind this post office, any packages that required a signature were held, not at this post office, but the 23rd and E Union 2 miles away. Its an interesting walk and even though there are no railroad tracks to cross, you do get this feeling that one is crossing into a bad section of the city (bars on windows, hand made business signs, more bottles on the sidewalk, etc).

    While it was nice to be able to ship small things via this post office, I could never get there in time M-F, making Saturday the only day I could ship packages on. With Saturdays being closed, if I still lived behind it, I probably wouldnt notice the closure.

  2. I’d expect the Dick’s lot to get redeveloped within the next few years. If you look at that block, with a number of low-rise, crappy buildings directly across from where the spanking new light rail & streetcar station will be, its blindingly obvious that those parcels won’t remain in their current state for much longer – especially a single story burger drive-through surrounding by surface parking – no matter how beloved their mediocre burgers are. There is just too much money to be made redeveloping them.

  3. I’d also add, that if Seattle’s zoning controls are so pathetic that 75+ year old character buildings inside a conservation overlay district (Pike/Pine) can’t be saved from the bulldozers path, then some janky buildings outside a conservation overlay district are toast.

  4. It really is a horrid building.

    I will miss the Post Office, but maybe it could move into the new place? As someone mentioned, every time I hold my mail, I have to go 2 miles to the other Post Office anyways. It is nice to have one so close, but it won’t be missed.

  5. Strange. I have picked up quite large packages at this PO. Perhaps that is because I rent a box there. And it is not closed on Saturdays, it is open from 8:30 to 3.

  6. I don’t think it is bad part of town. I see few bars on windows here. Check out Tougo, Central Cinema, Katie’s, Medmix, and Cartona. I know some spots have had some challenges. Somehow calling your neighbors a “bad part of town” bothers me.

  7. > Strange. I have picked up quite large packages at this PO

    I didnt have a post office box, that is almost a waste of money because FedEx and UPS cant deliver to those. The carriers would deliver to the lobby which had all the mail slots, but this lobby was not locked or secured, so often would packages disappear.

    So after making a purchase …

    Postal carrier scans all packages that have tacking at the start of their shift. If you ever get a tracking confirmation stating that it was delivered at 8-9am and you know damm well they dont swing by your place until late in the afternoon, then its basically the postal carrier being lazy and not wanting to carry the handheld scanner with them door to door. So they’ll scan them all at the start of the shift.

    So once they arrive at my unsecured lobby entrance, they realize this package is too large and since they cant un-scan it, they would often leave it there, ready for anyone to pick up before I got home at 7pm.

    At times when the postal carrier was doing their job and didn’t scan all the tracking packages at the start of the shift, I would get an orange card asking me to pick up at the local office, which wasn’t 1/4 block walk across the street, but a 2 mile walk to 23rd and E Union.

    I have since moved to an apartment with a locked lobby and have yet to lose packages. I must stress how important it is to have a mail lobby thats locked.

  8. The Wikipedia page does mention it. All you have to do is scroll down the page to the next section, “Subsequent actions” and it clearly mentions the following:

    However, the Haggerty case had an additional charge of destruction of government property, as the burned flag was alleged to have been stolen from Seattle’s Capitol Hill Post Office.

  9. I am getting sick and tired of this development disease. It’s ruining the character and flavor of historic Capitol Hill. These new buildings are too tall, blocking views, and have no character. One has no idea of what shop they are in front of because everything looks the same: generic. It may be a project for investors, but it isn’t being done with the beauty and flavor of the neighborhood they have invaded. You have successfully raped a beautiful neighborhood.

  10. Dicks is terrible! I don’t understand the love affair with this crappy food.

    If it was an In-N-Out, now that would be a different story.

  11. I had to go to the Broadway Branch Post Office and I asked the mail lady about the branch closing and she said that the only thing that she knew about closing was postal delivery service from that location . But she said people could still use postal boxes and also buy stamps at that location.

  12. eddie, Dick’s is popular partly because it’s a long-standing local business, one which many of us grew up with. I agree that their burgers are mediocre, but their fries are deeeee-lishus and their shakes are good too.

  13. I no longer live on Capitol Hill. I moved out, in part because I lived across the street from Dicks. I hate this place. It shows the worst aspects of American culture in a single block of land:
    * its designed for driving – an impersonal, inconsiderate (to the environment) way of LIFE
    * yeah, life, it shows that some crap commercial product (burgers, cars) can define culture
    * its product works against the interests of customers – making people sick (like McDonald’s – and please don’t tell me this is better) – by bad quality food and encouraging driving
    * 80% of the time there are homeless people begging for money there
    * it smells absolutely awful
    * its architecture is lackluster – old does not equal pleasant. there are buildings on pike/pine that are old and beautiful. this is one is just ruining the neighborhood.

    I hope that people will realize that this is piece of shameful history better burried. Don’t think that anybody will think well of you if you say – oh this is part of my childhood, and I’ve spent so many drunken nights here. No. It may be history, but it’s not good history.

    And before you go on some retarded flamewar – think about this – I’ve been positive when showing Dicks to all my out of town friends – and nobody liked – NOBODY!

  14. Maybe we should have an “Eyesore Registry” as well of old decrepit buildings that have no aesthetic or architectural merit that should be fast tracked for demolition. This building would be on it.

  15. I would just hope that when the time comes -notice that I say when not if. I hope when the time comes that local pressure can help to at least save the “character” of Dick’s, if not the actual building. I can imagine some rather quirky ways of incorporating Dick’s into a new mix-use structure as the ground floor occupant. Place parking underground with reserved 15min Dick’s parking on top floor. Turn the existing parking lot into a little park plaza type thing with a smaller shop or two and integrate the flavor of the classic Dick’s architecture into the ground floor of the building.

    In that manner Dick’s would serve the same purpose as the top floor food court in Westlake. It makes people pass by all the other shops on the way there. A little plaza with some benches, maybe a picnic table would cause people at Dick’s to stop and linger near whatever retail wanted to move in next door.

    Also, why is everyone b*tching and gripping about Dick’s burgers… I thought everyone knew that Dick’s burgers were mediocre but it isn’t like that is why you go to Dick’s. Right? I was under the impression that you went to Dick’s for french fries, fresh, never stale, Tillamok ice cream cones, and milkshakes. Also prices. If you want good burgers drag your butt to Red Mill or walk a few blocks to Blue Moon Burger.