‘Sale of the year’ — Preservation-minded developer scores two more pieces of Hill’s auto row past

Two more Capitol Hill auto row-era buildings have fallen into the hands of a greedy developer — a developer that just happens to have recently completed a popular, roundly supported renovation of its last major Pike/Pine acquisition.

(Images: CHS)

CHS starts 2013 with yet another Hunters Capital-related chunk of important news for the neighborhood — we’re in a rut. We’ve learned details of the Hill-based real estate investment group’s two new acquisitions of buildings that stand across E Pike from one another at Summit.

“The history of auto row buildings is special to Hunters Capital and we think to the community,” reads a statement on the acquisitions sent to CHS by the company.


“The character these older structures bring to the hood is priceless – old growth timber, steel hangers, terrazzo floors, aged masonry, they each tell a unique story in the history of Seattle’s original auto row.”

The Greenus building (Image: CHS)

The buildings — The Greenus building at 500 E Pike and The H.E. Holmes building at 501 E Pike across the street — represent yet another major investment in the area for Hunters Capital. Last year, Hunters spent more than $4 million acquiring and restoring the Colman Automotive building at Pine and Bellevue. According to county records, the 18,000-square-foot H.E. Holmes acquisition cost Hunters $5.3 million. Details on the Greenus sale are not yet public.

Hunters say it “looks forward to giving continued life to these properties through restoration and development” and hopes “users continue to enjoy the historical feel inside and out.”

The purchases continue the Hunters model of buying, improving and preserving auto row-era Capitol Hill structures and marketing the buildings to retail, restaurant and office tenants looking to be part of the neighborhood’s eclectic mix. The move of Elliott Bay Book Company  is one example of the model in motion.

The transactions have also helped make the exit of two long-time Capitol Hill businesses coinciding with the deals a little sweeter. Both buildings were held by the owners of their principal tenants and change is already at play at the intersection. The signs in the windows of longtime Hill business Brocklind’s Formal Wear, Costume Store & Bridal Shop tell part of the story.

It’s the sale of the year!!!!

Brocklind’s is proud to announce that we are retiring after 106 years of dressing Seattle in style! In celebration, we are giving all of you, our loyalcustomers, the opportunity to take a piece ofBrocklind’s home with you for good! That’s right, nomore rentals. You can BUY that coveted costume, thestylish tuxedo, or the wacky wig that you’ve had your eye on over the years!! We are selling EVERYTHING; men’s formal wear, vintage clothing, costumes,antiques, all our fixtures… Plus, we’ve marked ourentire bridal department down 50%!

Sale starts January 10th and goes throughthe end of February

So come quick before it’s all gone!

As of Thursday, January 10th, we will be resuming our regular hours: Monday through Saturday 9am – 6pm Closed on Sundays

We hope to have more from owner Jim DeAmbrosio about the store’s long history in Seattle, soon.

Hunters said it is already searching for a new street-level tenant to replace Brocklind’s following DeAmbrosio’s retirement and is in negotiations with the building’s second-floor office tenants to remain as it also looks to fill the currently empty space on the floor. As for the lower level theater below the building accessed from Summit, Hunters said it plans to continue making a home for Theater Schmeater. “We have no plans to move the theater in the basement, we love the use and look forward to a long relationship.”

The H.E. Holmes building (Image: CHS)

Like Brocklind’s, across the street in the H.E. Holmes building, C-K Graphics is also winding down business on Capitol Hill. Dan McCarty, now $5.3 million richer, has agreed to merge his printing business and consolidate its assets and clientele with a Belltown-headquartered printer, said Chuck Stempler of the newly expanded Alphagraphics. Hunters tells us C-K will continue to lease the space for another year but Stempler said that the business has already been transitioned to Belltown.

The area around the two new Hunters properties is busy with planning and coming change. The Mercedes dealership up the street is being lined up for a seven-story preservation and development project. While construction of a 260-unit apartment building and preservation project at the former BMW showroom site closer to Broadway will start later this year.

While the buildings share an auto row past, an intersection and the fate that brought them into the Hunters Capital portfolio, they may face divergent paths in the future.

Hunters is crystal clear about its plans for the Brocklind’s Greenus building. “We are planning on an immediate exterior rehab much like our 401 E Pine (Area 51) Building went through,” a company spokesperson tells us. “The goal is to bring the building as closely back to its original look as possible.  This will include a full brick and concrete restoration, new wood double hung windows, new roofing, flashings, refurbished street fronts, etc.”

The Greenus building counts Kissel Kar, Ford, DeSoto and Cadillac as past tenants, according to Hunters.

The H.E. Holmes building has an even more diverse pedigree — Howell Motor Co, Seaboard Motors, British Cars of Seattle, Franklin Auto Agency, Import Motors and more over the years — and also may face a more heavy-handed overhaul. Hunters says it is happy to have acquired the building’s “ornate features” and unique “100% poured concrete walls and floors” but hasn’t yet said it is committing to a restoration of the building. A preservation-minded redevelopment may make more sense — and make better use of the 9,000 square feet of the property currently dedicated to a parking lot.

Summit at E Pike (Image: CHS)

17 thoughts on “‘Sale of the year’ — Preservation-minded developer scores two more pieces of Hill’s auto row past

  1. The article says that these sales “make the exit … sweeter” for Brocklind’s and Alphagraphics, but it seems more likely that these business were simply bought out by the developer. Do you have evidence that the businesses wanted to close even before the developers approached?

  2. Your comment re “greedy developers” is supposed to be funny but Hunters Capital happens to be the ONLY developer who is purchasing properties on the Hill who is not conducting themselves as a shuck and jive hustler (unlike Calhoun Properties, for whom you seem to provide a lot of favorable coverage). Your supposedly amusing but snide comment denigrates the concern of a great many long-time residents of this area who genuinely care about the make a buck development that is going on in all but the Hunters Capital property purchases and subsequent renovations.

  3. Read more closely ..
    CK Graphics has been in a building owned by them. They weren’t pushed out, they sold their building and will be merging with Alphagraphics in Belltown. Same for Brocklind’s …again a business, where the owners of the business also owned the building.

  4. Sweetie, relax. I think the words “preservation-minded developer” in the title already sets the tone for the blog post and nobody is likely going to walk away from this post confusing them with a “shuck and jive hustler.”

  5. “in negotiations with the building’s second-floor office tenants to remain”

    Is there some reason 8 Limbs Yoga isn’t mentioned by name? They have been in the building for years.

  6. Ignorance and time. Sorry. I didn’t have time to sort out which tenant was on 2nd floor. Readers always know more than I do about their areas and areas of expertise. Most useful (for me, at least :) ) is to bring your information to the site assuming you are educating me. You are probably right!

  7. I concur. I thought the characterization as “greedy” was strange, considering they’re the one developer who seems most concerned with keeping the integrity of the various buildings intact. I get it that you were “trying” to be funny, but I’d have to say this time it fell flat, and seemed to reflect poorly on a developer who doesn’t deserve it.

  8. Is there anything truly architecturally redeeming to save here? Apart from salvaging old growth timber, these buildings look ready to be demolished and put out to pasture.

    A new time calls for new buildings.

  9. That is what people would have thought about the building Hunters Capital just did (401 E Pine Street) prior to the exterior rennovation. A little TLC goes along way with these older buildings.

    I think it’s crazy not to want to keep as many pre-1940′s buildings around as possible. These two look to have great character.

  10. A few years ago you might have thought the same thing about King Street Station. Have you been in there lately, since they pulled down the horrible drop-ceiling to reveal the spectacular work that had been covered up in the 60′s? It’s true, they did an awesome job with 401 E Pine. Let’s see what they can do next– or would you prefer a dreary new-millennium pile-o-boxes like every other mixed-use bldg. that’s being thrown up on CapHill these days? I sure wouldn’t.

  11. I think there was also a dance studio called HaLo on the second floor, altho I don’t know if they’re still there or have moved to Century Ballroom. We used to hear the salsa music on I think it was Friday nights.

  12. “A new time calls for new buildings.”

    …..like the ones that went up where Coffee Messiah and Bimbo’s et al used to be? No thanks. They look cheap and horrible. The reno job on the older building both looks beautiful and preserves some of Seattle’s history. If Cap Hill is going to be gentrified (our rent was just raised, after 10 years of living here) better it be these guys than someone looking to slap up tickytacky condos via loopholes in the “green buildings” regulations.

  13. oliveoyl: I understood that that the business were “bought out” not “pushed out.” That could still be tragic: if Starbucks offered every business on Pike an obscene sum to move out, and replaced them all with Starbuckses, I would be disappointed.

  14. I got an email back in January saying that 8 Limbs has signed a lease with Hunters Capital and is staying in the building for the foresseable future. Halo has been out of the building for awhile, though I don’t think that it had anything to do with the building sale.

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