Just two years after reopening in what was intended to be its temporary home while an eight-story development rises above its longtime corner at Melrose and Pine, Bauhaus Books and Coffee is leaving Capitol Hill.
CHS confirmed the Capitol Hill closure with owner Joel Radin Tuesday. Many loyal customers on the rainy night had already seen the sad news for themselves posted on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper in the window of the E Pine cafe. The same message was also posted to Facebook:
Dear loyal Bauhaus Capitol Hill Customers,
We are truly sorry to let you know that the Capitol Hill Bauhaus had to close it’s doors. The plan was for this space to be our temporary home until the original space was to be ready for us to move back. Unfortunately, we are not able to move back to our original location.
We really tried our best to make this space work as Bauhaus Capitol Hill’s temporary home, but due to unforeseen events and the knowledge that we are not able to move back to our original home, we are forced to close our doors.
We are extremely sad and sorry this is the situation. Bauhaus has been a Capitol Hill staple since 1993 and will live on in spirit. The Capitol Hill community was our first family and we thank you and will miss you all.
Radin declined to provide more information at this time.
— jseattle (@jseattle) December 9, 2015
Known for its “strong coffee” and book-lined walls, Bauhaus was loved for its library-like feel, plentiful tables, and long hours — 6 AM to 1 AM. The new space didn’t have the same ambiance as the Melrose corner but it did have the Capitol Club’s old second-story patio.
Bauhaus and its block of neighboring small businesses on E Pine at Melrose were part of one of the first in a wave of nostalgia demolishing real estate deals that ushered in the past few years of construction on relatively massive mixed-use developments boosted taller by Pike/Pine’s preservation incentives. In April 2012, CHS reported on the acquisition of Bauhaus’s block that would displace the 1993-born cafe and other shops like Wall of Sound, Edie’s Shoes and Le Frock.
But by May of that year, the pain of the impending doom for the old buildings on the block was partly mitigated by an announcement from Radin that Bauhaus had a deal in place to return to Melrose and Pine once the development was completed. “It looks like Bauhaus will be back,” Radin told CHS at the time. “The building is going to look the same when it’s all said in done.”
Bauhaus fans were even happier when Radin announced he would be taking over the old Capitol Club space on E Pine for a temporary home for Bauhaus while the development construction was underway. The transplanted Bauhaus opened in early 2014. New Bauhaus locations also opened in Ballard and Green Lake. We don’t know the fate of the other cafes but no messages about any additional closures were posted to their recently updated Facebook pages.
The eight-story project at Melrose and Pine remains under construction. Designed by architect David Hewitt and developed by the Madison Development Group, the project will create around 180 apartment units above16,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space and underground parking for around 170 vehicles. Attempts to protect both the Melrose Building and the Pinevue Apartments with landmarks status failed. Despite the rejection of the block’s architectural significance, the developers have branded the Excelsior project after the Melrose Building’s first tenant — Excelsior Motorcycle and Bicycle Company.
UPDATE 12/9/2015 9:45 AM: The most recent listings for the Excelsior show a whopping 10 commercial spaces for lease in the development ranging from $36 to $42 per square foot, per year. Looks like they won’t make their “date available” target of October 2015.
Meanwhile, we also looked into court records around the business including some small tax warrants earlier this year. There is one piece of pending litigation involving Bauhaus’s ownership. In November of 2012, a NW Market pedestrian claimed he was injured by “a large hole” that was part of the construction around the buildout of the Ballard Bauhaus location. A lawsuit filed this November calls for a judgement against Bauhaus and the building owner for “pain, suffering, and mental anguish” and “permanent impairment.”
According to county records, the same real estate investors have owned the Capitol Club building since 1986 and there are no permit records indicating any immediate plans for development.
We’re checking for more details on what changed with the Melrose and Pine project and the abrupt nature of the cafe’s closure. For Capitol Hill oldtimers displaced by development, successful returns are rare but not unheard of. Bill’s Off Broadway returned to Harvard and Pine this summer after waiting for a preservation-friendly development with a revamped restaurant space to complete construction. Meanwhile, the Bauhaus news comes in a week when another Capitol Hill food and drink legend gets back in business as Charlie’s is set to reopen on Broadway under new management.
You can check out some old(er) photos and see a CHS history of the original Bauhaus here.
— Sage Kitamorn (@sagekitamorn) December 9, 2015
UPDATE 12/10/15 9:15 AM: “PLEASE COME BACK WE NEED YOU”
UPDATE 12/10/2015 3:30 PM: We haven’t confirmed it with Radin but Twice Sold Tales Ballard — which shares a space with Bauhaus up north — says that location is closing this weekend. The Seattle Times reports the Green Lake location has also closed.
Radin has not responded to CHS’s attempts to contact him following our brief exchange Tuesday.