Area 51, providing excellent window shopping for 17 years, cuts back prior to ‘building re-tenanting’

(Images: Hunters Capital)

(Images: Hunters Capital)

It’s funny what businesses seem to be most firmly stitched into the collective fabric of Capitol Hill. CHS can tell by the number of messages we’ve received about E Pine design and furniture gallery Area 51 that the retailer is a key stitch in many people’s daily lives — if only because we walk by and wonder how much the store gets for that sofa in the window.

If you’ve seen Area 51’s windows darkened recently, no, the shop hasn’t gone out business. Ownership tells CHS that the store is operating on reduced hours and open only on Saturday and Sunday afternoons but declined to say more about the future of Area 51 at this time.

We can tell you that the commercial space in the Colman Automotive building is available for lease.

In this case, the listing for 3,7000 square feet of prime Pike/Pine street level real estate is available for around $9,000 per month. “Located in the heart of Capitol Hill’ s Pike Pine Neighborhood,” the listing promises. “This area is vibrant with restaurants, theaters, parks, boutiques, colleges and galleries. It is framed by pedestrian-friendly streets and is a short walk from Seattle’ s downtown core.” There are also some 10,000 square feet of office space available on the second floor.

Capitol Hill-based developer Hunters Capital acquired the building at 401 E. Pine for $3.85 million in April 2012 and set out to restore the building to the glory of 1916’s auto row. That’s when the two-story building was developed by J.M. Colman, the Seattle man who made a fortune in timber and than diversified into real estate. Named after its original developer, the building served as a garage for auto-related businesses.

Area 51, meanwhile, dates to 1999 and describes itself as “a leader in the Seattle design community” with “a vast collection of new, modern and contemporary furniture.” As Capitol Hill’s development waves continue to crash across the neighborhood with hundreds of new units and plans for more — including plenty of “luxury apartments” — it would seem like these would be boom times for a furniture business full of interesting things and prices that range from we could probably do that to, wow, don’t touch it that belongs in a museum. A partnership of Jason Hallman, Daniel Meltzer, and David Reimer continues to operate the business, according to state records.

A Hunters Capital representative told CHS she could not say more about the situation around the building and Area 51 at this time. According to the real estate listing, the developer is planning to complete an interior renovation and “building re-tenanting” next year. The space Area 51 currently calls home is available as of April 2017.

Area 51 is located at 401 E Pine. Its hours are 2 to 5 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. You can learn more at area51seattle.com.

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5 thoughts on “Area 51, providing excellent window shopping for 17 years, cuts back prior to ‘building re-tenanting’

  1. Unfortunate news. While many items there are priced well above and beyond my price range, I’ve found and purchased a number of gems, both new and vintage there. In fact, I’m looking at one of my favorite pieces of furniture (purchased there) now.

    As much as I miss living within a stone’s throw of that block, the longer that I’m away and the more I read confirms that I was priced out at the right time. The remaining traces of that neighborhood that I loved are few and far between. I wonder how long it will be before the trifecta of Hot Mamas, Linda’s and R Place go the way of the dodo.

  2. Haven’t found anything interesting there since 2003 when they had more vintage items. And when they used to actually say hello to visitors.

  3. Linda’s won’t go anywhere, since the owner is making bank from the gentrification of the hill (she owns about a half dozen bars across the neighborhood).

  4. Linda’s won’t go anywhere, since the owner is making bank from the gentrification of the hill (she owns about a half dozen bars across the neighborhood).