Goodbye First Hill McDonald’s, hello 17-story mixed-use building  

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

The First Hill McDonald’s franchise is an intriguing community hub. The Madison and Minor location seems to accomplish what an urban McDonald’s can be at its best: a place for surgeons, construction workers, homeless people and everyone in between to gather together for a cheap, gigantic cup of coffee and a bite to eat. Other times, it’s just weird.

Documents recently filed with the city show the First Hill McDonald’s is now a goner and slated to be torn down. Developer Holland Partners has filed permits to demolish the McDonald’s building and erect a 240,000 square foot, 17-story mixed-use development.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 2.47.11 PMDetails on the new project are sparse, but early plans call for 200 apartment units and 151 parking spaces. The Vancouver, WA based developer was also behind the similarly sized Coppins Well project next door. At the time, developers touted the Coppins Well project as the first high-rise apartment building to break ground on First Hill in 35 years.

Just a few blocks away, Whole Foods will be part of a 16-story mixed-use apartment building planned at Madison and Broadway slated to open in 2018.

CHS couldn’t reach anyone at Holland for comment about the McDonald’s project.

A representative for franchisees in the region said the Madison McDonalds has been open for about at least 17 years (see comments for memories of this location going back to the 1970s). Earlier this year, CHS reported on McDonald’s employees urging their coworkers to walk off the job for higher wages. We don’t know yet if the franchise will relocate in the neighborhood or nearby, but the possibility may get the Capitol Hill rumor mill churning again.

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36 thoughts on “Goodbye First Hill McDonald’s, hello 17-story mixed-use building  

  1. That’s OK. I was used to avoiding that block anyway since I was tired of getting trash blown in my face. I can avoid it for construction closures just as easily. Wherever McD’s ends up, I hope it will be better managed.

  2. That Mcdonalds has been there a lot longer than 17 year. I can remember it at least 25 years ago, and it had been around for awhile at that point.

    • “A representative for franchisees in the region said the Madison McDonalds has been open for about 17 years.”

      When I started at Fred Hutch on First Hill in 1982, that MacDonalds looked as though it had been there for ever,

      Can anybody better 32 years for the life of the First Hill “Scottish Deli”?

    • maybe it’s just the current franchisee that’s owned it for 17 years?

      I know it’s been in that spot as long as I’ve been in the area and that’s six months shy of 20 years. Hmmm

      I wonder if it’ll pop up in another spot in the hood too.

  3. Yeah, I attended O’Dea H.S. in the early ’90s and it the McD’s was well entrenched. Despite a bit of nostalgia, can’t say I’ll miss it.

  4. This First Hill McDonald’s needs to go. Every crack dealer in town deals drugs in or around the building to the people who frequent the various methadone clinics in the neighborhood. It is very likely the sketchiest restaurant in the downtown area, although probably not as bad as the old downtown McDonald’s that closed a while back. Good riddance.

    • Silly to hate on McD just because druggies hang around there. They will just go somewhere else on the hill, like Cal Anderson or right on Broadway.

    • The McDonalds isn’t the reason the “druggies” are in that area. There is a methadone clinic right around the corner from there. Those people aren’t going anywhere, they’ll just have to go to the other businesses in the neighborhood.

    • If patients at the methadone clinic are also buying crack (and other drugs), doesn’t that call into question the effectiveness of a methadone program?

  5. This is the 2nd downtown McDonalds to close … the one in Westlake Center closed earlier this year.

    As far as relocating … the only places that they could are either the former RiteAid location (Madison/Summit) or the vacant Madison Market location (Madison/8th Ave) …

    The former restaurant in First Hill Plaza at Madison/Boylston will be a Salal Credit Union soon.

    • McDonalds as a whole isn’t doing that well anymore. Many analysts are speculating that the company my not be around much longer due to the poor quality of the food and treatment of workers. I wouldn’t be surprised if McD’s franchisees are getting out of the business while they can

  6. I worked there pt in college back in 1980 so a lot longer than 17 years. It does need to go it has been a hub for everything else besides hamburger’s and fries!

  7. Awww. I’m gonna miss the MethDonalds. Many good, weird memories, and thousands of chicken mcnuggets consumed. But, First Hill will probably be better off.

  8. Thanks for the comments about the age of this McDonalds — I read this and said “what?”! I went there in the mid-1980s, and it was rundown then!

  9. Just what Seattle needs. More cheaply made “mixed use” buildings. God forbid there be any original ideas, architecture etc. This city is getting sadder by the day. Soon the entire city will look like the Microsoft campus.

    • The quality will be much higher than what is going up on most of Capitol Hill. At 17 stories it will be a concrete and steel constructed site. This is more costly than the 5 over 1 stick builds that are popping up all over Capitol Hill.

      I wish we were building more of these.

      • I’d imagine the building’s facade will be brick, which matches the character of the neighborhood, and certainly looks better than the “metal siding from Sears” look going up on most of Capitol Hill. Holland built and operates Coppins Well, where I live, across from this location. The building material is not cheap — I appreciate that they used a brick facade to match many of the early 20th century condos found nearby. I also appreciate that the top 15 floors are set back from its two-story base. From the pedestrian levels, the 17-story building doesn’t loom so large.

    • The only reason the build quality on Capitol Hill is low is because that’s what Capitol Hill residents demand. By demanding the city to restrict heights to under 85′ they are demanding wood construction. Allow 160′-240′ on the hill with setbacks. You’ll get a much higher quality build and with the setbacks more light will actually reach the street than with the current 65′-85′ buildings being built with no setback.

      • You’re preaching to the choir. In my opinion, a significant way for Seattle to get out of it’s housing/rent crisis is to build vertically. Land is at a premium. Close to 15,000 new residents are moving here per year, yet we’re only building about 9,000 new units annually — cause and effect, supply and demand people. Shunting development at 6 to 8 stories in the most popular, and transit rich neighborhoods leads to an outcome we’re seeing today. It’s important that people on both sides of the density debate participate in the Seattle process. Right now it’s dominated by homeowners whose homes occupy more than 60% of the city’s land, but are less than a 1/3 of the population. Seattle is not a fishing village anymore, pretending it is, is not useful for the city’s future, or the people that will live here many generations from now.

  10. I vividly remember going to opening night at this McDonald’s in 1977 or so when I was about 5 years old. My parents and I lived a few blocks away and the opening was a huge deal at the time.

  11. That McDonalds has been there a long time. It was a favorite hangout for Seattle U students when I was attending SU 1978-1981. I don’t miss McDonalds, but definitely had good times with friends while in school back in the day.

  12. When are they breaking ground on this? Need to know when to move so I don’t have to listen to construction and jackhammers for an entire year.

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