Capitol Hill Housing’s plan for The Canterbury is a big deal

The non-profit developer and longtime landlord of 15th Ave E’s The Canterbury has a plan for finding a new tenant to take over the space by the start of 2014.

It’s not every day we delve into the inner workings of how Capitol Hill Housing handles its commercial leases.

But it’s also not every day that big changes for a neighborhood institution like The Canterbury are in the works.

At a CHH executive committee meeting Tuesday night, board members discussed the proposed plan for finding a new tenant for The Canterbury space on the ground floor of the Fredonia Apartments at 15th and E Mercer.

According to the proposed plan that still requires board of directors approval, Capitol Hill Housing’s goal is to maintain the space as a food and drink establishment — “a comfortable, accessible, third place” suitable for “a variety of income levels.”

“It’s the type of use that is declining in the neighborhood and ought to be preserved,” CEO Chris Persons said in presenting the draft plan Tuesday.

CHH has already been contacted by a number of operators who are interested in the site, Persons said.

The Canterbury’s current owners, Stefanie and David Roberge, according to Capitol Hill Housing, have informed the organization that they do not plan to make a bid to remain in the space as their current 10-year lease draws to a close at the end of 2013.

CHS reported on the Roberges’ desire to sell the revered dive bar that has called the space home since 1976.

CHH’s draft plan includes components designed to help the Roberges make a softer landing after their years of investment in the business including helping the couple sell some $200,000 in equipment the couple says it is hoping will be part of any deal. Persons said finding such a buyer could be a challenge, however — The Canterbury’s infrastructure is well worn.

Other components should be more fruitful for the Roberges. Capitol Hill Housing is prepared to work with The Canterbury to remain in the space through the entirety of the year so the bar can finish 2013 with potentially lucrative parties and a bittersweet New Year’s Eve bash.

Beyond gauging interest in the bar’s equipment, CHH also is planning on a set of requirements for potential operators seeking to make a play for the space. Included in that set will be requirements for outlining proposed capital improvement estimates, timelines for financing and, possibly, a price-point agreement.

CHH will also be evaluating tenants for compatibility with the building’s residents. Sound work was done in the space about seven years ago, according to CHH, to help keep music from disturbing residents. Other issues like managing outdoor smokers have required ongoing efforts, according to the CHH board session.

It’s clear CHH isn’t taking the next steps for The Canterbury lightly. The developer is also planning on forming a focus group including customers and nearby residents to help inform the tenant selection process.

Later this spring, interested parties will be invited to submit proposals and CHH will evaluate the plans. One proposal will then be selected for an exclusive negotiation process.

It all adds up to a big deal. That’s what happens when you replace a neighborhood institution.

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4 thoughts on “Capitol Hill Housing’s plan for The Canterbury is a big deal

  1. Who ever decides to lease that place or whatever Cap Hill Housing decides to do with it, the space is going to need to be gutted. It doesn’t just need a facelift it needs a full on makeover. I am sure the tenants above will really enjoy that process.

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