Big property deal set to reshape Capitol Hill’s somewhat sleepy 15th Ave E

img_1796In a sellers’ market on Capitol Hill, another big real estate deal appears primed to remake part of the neighborhood. CHS has learned that property on a key block in the heart of 15th Ave E’s strip of shops and restaurants recently hit the market and already has a prospective buyer with plans for a multi-story, mixed-use building stretching from the site where the 15th Ave E QFC stands today to cornershop ShopRite.

“If God means for us to stay, I am staying,” ShopRite owner Mohammad Abid tells CHS about the deal and his long-term lease in the building the shop has called home for more then 20 years.

Fortunately, the coming changes are still a ways off.

The buildings today home to QFC, the Take 2 consignment shop, a second Capitol Hill Rudy’s location, and ShopRite were gifted to the University of Washington last year after a death in the family that has held the property for decades. The northern building dates to 1904 while the QFC grocery building was constructed in 1944, according to King County records.

UPDATE 2/22/17: As noted by Michal in the comments below, the northern building also features seven residential apartments above the retail street-level tenants:

screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-4-33-28-pm

According to people familiar with the deal, the property has been sold to a developer for $12 million. Gary Eng, UW’s senior asset manager, tells CHS that the gifted Moore family property is under contract with a buyer and should close “by May or sooner.” The real estate broker on the deal said there are “several long term leases in place” which will need to be worked out before any development can move forward. According to the broker, the plans include a new grocery store in the development.

UPDATE 2/22/17: We’ve posted the sale listing for the property at the end of this post. Looks like we may have been a little short on the price — it’s being marketed at $12.5 million. Here are a few highlights from CenturyPacific:

The opportunity presented is to acquire a prime Capitol Hill property that has an income stream and outstanding redevelopment potential. Part of the appeal of this Property lies in the opportunity of future development. 15th Avenue E in Capitol Hill is a well- established retail core surrounded by residential uses. The 15th Avenue corridor is well known to anyone who knows Seattle. Referring to “the QFC on 15th” is like mentioning the Space Needle at Seattle Center. The 15th Avenue corridor has long been the economic base and heart of the Capital Hill neighborhood. While other retail corridors have developed over time in Capitol Hill, the retail and shopping foundation of this area started on 15th Avenue East. This arterial is currently anchored by icon establishments such as the Coastal Kitchen, Victrola Coffee, the Canterbury Ale House, The Wandering Goose, Ethan Stowell’s Rione XIII and many more. Owning this Property on this block is like owning a part of Capitol Hill’s history as a neighborhood!

“The future hinges on whether QFC and Rudy’s will agree to new lease terms,” broker Katherine Laird told CHS.

QFC, part of the Ohio-based Kroger, has not yet responded to our email while Take 2’s owner is traveling this week.

Danny Segal, director of marketing for Rudy’s, said the company is “open to discussions” about the building’s future plans.

“We’re very happy there and only two years into our long-term lease,” Segal said. “We definitely have no plans to leave.” Rudy’s opened its 15th Ave E shop, its second on Capitol Hill, in 2015.

Though it has seen a few instances of infill development, 15th Ave has mostly been free of the larger wave of redevelopment that has reshaped areas of Broadway and Pike/Pine. Current zoning would limit any planned development to four stories. HALA affordability rezoning could bump those 40-foot limits up by 15 feet. Its lag in the race to redevelop the Hill’s main commercial areas means 15th has been left behind in many of the infrastructure improvements around utilities, streets, and sidewalks that can come with major new construction projects. That suits many just fine especially as spaces along the street have remained available to longtime residents and an eclectic assortment of small businesses. The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, is also preparing to expand the Hill’s Business Improvement Area to include 15th Ave partly in anticipation of coming growth.

Whatever comes next, Abid, who has owned ShopRite for 14 of its 24 or so years of business, says he expects his shop will come out just fine — in the big picture.

“God created everything,” Abid said. “Everything that has happened for everyone and everything that will.”

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74 thoughts on “Big property deal set to reshape Capitol Hill’s somewhat sleepy 15th Ave E

  1. Ahh… mixed feelings about this. Growth and change are inevitable but I frequent the shops along here and don’t look forward to the inconvenience. I’m especially not looking forward to needing to go to Safeway for my groceries.

  2. Please let it not turn out to be another entire block of lego-looking condos with a dry cleaner and another nail salon and a chain grocery store. I love “sleepy” 15th and shop there a few times a week and I’d be so sad if it turned into another characterless block on Cap Hill.

  3. I think it’s inaccurate to characterize 15th Ave E as “sleepy.” It is a vibrant, interesting urban street with a great mixture of useful local businesses, and is of a scale compatible with the surrounding neighborhood. I prefer it over the craziness of, say, Broadway or Pike-Pine. This possible re-development, with its 4-5 stories, would be the first nail in its coffin.

    Now, I expect to hear from those who think 15th is perfect for high-rises, skyscrapers, the almighty “density,”…..blah, blah, blah.

    • If not 15th, then where? Rent is going crazy in Seattle right now because there aren’t enough places to live. A friend of mine says he toured a 2-bedroom apartment in a fifty-year-old building recently and they quoted him *$3750/month*. We need more housing and we need it yesterday. If we’re not going to build up along a major arterial in a densely populated, highly transit connected central neighborhood, where the fuck *are* we going to build?

    • @Mars. Where? I’ll tell you where: First Hill, SLU, Denny Triangle, Belltown, Downtown, U District, Yesler Terrace, Sodo, etc.

      These are the areas where we agreed to upzone many years ago. The deal was also that Capitol Hill is out of the upzone plans.

      That ship left the harbor a long time ago, get over it.

    • I’m not going to get over it, because my friends are getting priced out of the city. My kid sister just graduated and wants to move here. She was here visiting all last week and loves it. Where is she supposed to live? What am I supposed to tell her, “sorry kid, you’re too late, Seattle is only for old rich people now”? Fuck that. I don’t care what deals happened in years past. We need diversity, we need opportunity, we need progress, and the only way we’re going to get that is if we allow enough new development to keep up with demand. Which we have not been doing – not even close! – for at least the last ten years now. It’s time to catch up and make things right. Yes, of course the city is going to change. It’s changing already – prices are going up and all non-rich people are being forced out. Is that the kind of change you want? If not, then you’d better be willing to accept the kind of change that needs to happen if we want to remain a livable city which welcomes young people and doesn’t depend on a commuter class of poor people shuttling in from the suburbs.

    • “These are the areas where we agreed to upzone many years ago. The deal was also that Capitol Hill is out of the upzone plans.”

      “We”? We who?

    • Have to agree with @Carla. To add to that list what about Greenwood and Phinney Ridge, not to mention there is a huge swath of practically undeveloped land just south of the stadiums – tiny little one-story buildings and huge parking lots, not an efficient use of space at all. Capitol Hill is already the most dense neighborhood in the city next to maybe Belltown. If increasing density and affordable housing is really the goal, doesn’t it make more sense to focus on the neighborhoods that are currently the *least* dense? The idea that this development will create affordable housing makes me laugh. As noted elsewhere in thread, it will actually displace people who currently have affordable housing and line the pockets of some wealthy developers along the way. Meanwhile those who are opposed to it get told that they are somehow “anti-diversity.” Slow clap.

    • I am thinking that with the four stories (or more) of residential spaces built on 15th, we’ll be greeted with more $2K/month rents. I too hear the need for affordable housing (and wonder where it is), but aside from the aPodments, I don’t see any of the new construction squeezing into the most valued areas to be of value as a visual treat or affordable space for diverse residents. Correct me if I misunderstand.

  4. ShopRite is a truly ridiculous store. I have assumed for years it was a front for something, as no one ever shops there and their prices make zero sense.

    • You are totally wrong- it’s an amazing place, with thousands of items, and while of course it’s very cut-rate, I’ve been there dozens of times. It’s the best and last of the everything-shop, combining a party-goods, old-time stationary, hardware and home-goods store into one. I love this place, and the owner has always been unfailingly polite and helpful.

    • I can’t count how many trips to Home Depot I’ve saved by going to ShopRite. The prices aren’t great but when I need something like 1 lag bolt or solder or any other item, they seem to have it.

    • Wrong! (Donald Trump Voice)

      ShopRite is actually a really useful store to have around, I’d be sad to see it go. That said, I won’t be sad to lose this row of buildings, the QFC building in particular is pretty awful.

    • I never really knew its name. Everyone I know calls it the “Everything” Store and it is fantastic. They have everything! Love it!

    • ShopRite has many a time allowed us to make a quick stop for some random but essential household item that we’d probably have to leave the neighborhood to find otherwise. The prices are completely reasonable, especially when factoring in the time/convenience factor.

    • I shop there. I love it. They always have what I need that no one else in the neighborhood has. Need a magnet? A pan? An eyeglass repair kit? Birthday stuff? Packaging? A phone charger? An iron? Forks? A watch battery? Any strange little thing you can’t find elsewhere nearby they will have.

    • Another diehard ShopRite fan here. It’s like a magic Harry Potter store. When I need something I can’t find anywhere else, I wander in there and they have it. I would be very sad to see it go.

  5. That QFC and it’s parking lot are awful, I won’t miss it at all. Nor would I miss the blank wall of the QFC and the void it creates. What this development does do is create more potential for more businesses, better use of the space and desperately needed housing. It sounds like there is still a lot to figure out and change will not happen overnight.

    It’s too bad the Key Bank and parking lot don’t seem like they will be going anywhere anytime soon (Key Bank was just renovated). A lot more could be done with that property.

    FYI, if you don’t want more nail salons, dry cleaners and bars, then stop shopping online and create the need for small diverse businesses.

    • The actual QFC building is pretty terrible, but I’ve found the employees there to be the friendliest around. The Safeway has a better selection but everyone who works there is like a zombie.

    • The QFC building is ugly, and I hate the parking lot, but that particular QFC location is great. Better produce/meat/seafood selection than Safeway, and sometimes better than the QFC on Broadway/Republican. Super friendly and helpful staff, too. If the developer plans to put a grocery store in the new building, I hope QFC gets the lease. I like the way they operate that store on 15th.

    • All the QFC wall needs is a mural. And it’s a great store. Mid price, great staff. As much as I love Metropolitan Market, it’s too expensive

  6. I would love it if the new building was like 19th & Mercer building with Tallulah and Cone and Steiner, in its appearance, size and great retail focus. It would also be great if the smaller sized QFC returned in the new building along with local retail. That Shop rite building got ruined that I see that building as no loss.

    • do you honestly think that residents and neighbors in ANY neighborhood wouldn’t mourn the loss of beloved and useful businesses, owners and buildings, and their replacement by high-rent and generic shops and housing catering to only the top 10%? now THAT’S the definition of “white privilege.”

  7. This is great news. That block can definitely do with greater density. My condo is around the corner and I welcome this development. I hope Take2 and ShopRite will find a long-term home in the new development, but the thought of a better grocery store, and more density is very welcome.

    I hope it this development takes care of:
    1. The crazy narrow sidewalk
    2. Get rid of the parking lot
    3. The blank QFC wall.

    Please please please – just not another nail salon. Was so disappointed that the commercial space in the Stream 15 building was a taken up by another nail salon.

    Fingers crossed that the Wallgreens building with it’s parking lot and blank wall is next.

    • Get rid of the parking lot, so elderly people will have trouble grocery shopping. That’ll teach those bastards to be old. Reducing bus service was just a start.

      Additional expensive housing and more expensive groceries and more twee retail: how exciting for the newcomers! The street will look just like where they came from. So comforting.

      It’s true that 15th lacks the amenities that come with redevelopment. If you want to see college girls vomiting in the gutter, or have some help to indulge in a little gay bashing, or love inhaling high concentrations of the cheaper, muskier man perfumes as you walk along the sidewalk dodging deposits of biologicals, or are a ukelele-playing hipster artiste dressed as a baked yam and desperate for an admiring audience, 15th has nothing for you. It’s very sad—you should probably go somewhere else.

    • @Ed Burgess:
      I’m sorry, how many elderly people do you think drive to QFC? Parking lots serve people who primarily need to drive to get their groceries, namely people with money for a car and a license to drive. The elderly I see at our neighborhood supermarkets are generally walking, taking shuttles from senior housing or taking cabs. That’s the least convincing argument against a big, open, street-level parking lot in an ostensibly urban environment I’ve ever seen.

      And how you got from “mixed use, with grocery store” to “barfing college girls” is beyond me. In every town I’ve lived in there has been no correlation between “newness” and “partytime.” If we can look to any other corner of our neighborhood as an example, I’d point to the newer developments on 19th. Hardly a den of iniquity, wouldn’t you say?

    • Before that Red and Black Books was upstairs in the house that is now” The Patio Fine Thai Cuisine”.

      There was a Co-Op Ice Cream parlor downstairs (mid 80’s).
      Red and Black Books never really recovered from the move to theShopRite site.

  8. I love 15th, but it really was developed in the wrong decades. Looking forward to righting the wrong.

    Really great-looking blocks and small businesses (Fire Station 7, Victrola/Superb Cleaners, Canterbury/Olympia Pizza, Smith/Starbucks) are surrounded on all sides by the worst of the 70s/80s/90s car-oriented architecture (Safeway, QFC, Walgreens, the Subway building, Key Bank, etc.).

    The “worst of 15th” buildings above are some of the few in Seattle that I *wish* would be replaced by Pike/Pine style holes in the ground and then eventually by modern mixed-use businesses and apartments. Would really improve the look of 15th as a whole.

    • Thanks for pointing out the fact that the eyesores are remnants of a boom of car-orientated architecture.

      What we have to do as residents is urge for smaller sized retail spaces so they may be more rent-friendly for smaller business of the non-corporate persuasion. We need to go up and densify, but let’s not forget the human scale, which developers will forget if they are not pushed.

  9. The destruction of Seattle to make money housing tech workers marches on. Shame on our local politicians for going along with all this.

    • Look, I’m not a fan of Amazon (and by that I mean: when I did shop there, it was about once a year when I absolutely could not find what I needed elsewhere; I deleted my account after Bezos made amenable noises toward Trump after he was elected). I’m not particularly a fan of techbros, or Google, or the rest.

      But call me when you figure out a way to keep people from moving to any city for jobs or school or just because they want to or for any other reason. Any politician who tells you that s/he can is lying to you. And almost always efforts to do so just end up making the cost of living even less affordable so that people get pushed out at an even faster rate. Etc. etc. etc.

    • Seriously. WTF is up with this hating on the incredibly successful companies that are making Seattle home now? Doesn’t anyone realize how many multiplier jobs are created by these highly-paid workers, that we wouldn’t have otherwise? Housing & construction, retail, restaurants, bars, services, etc. Lots of people have jobs because of these tech workers. Try looking for a job in Spokane or Wenatchee and then get back to us.

  10. The success of the building will largely hinge on the developer and design team for the project. With the right team a great building could go in. Hopefully some thought and care goes into the project from everyone.

    I think it would be important to keep the following priorities:
    – Maintain a grocery store tenant in the future building
    – Keep a majority of the frontage storefronts small (like the existing) to allow for a more variety and affordable spaces to compliment what already exists on 15th Ave E.

    • The design team almost has no say. Trust me when I say architects don’t want those “ugly boxes” out there….

      100% agree with keeping small storefronts. Let’s make sure to email the developers once the land use sign is up!

  11. Agree, the key to interesting and diverse small businesses are smaller retail spaces, as franchises require larger square footage. I assume the building will be retail on the street with housing above…. let’s hope there’s an underground parking component for residents and patrons. And let’s not forget to provide a space for the old That Shop (Postal Plus) at 1463 E. Republican.. 15th Ave. East needs a post office and Postal Plus is being forced to move in about 6 weeks. There’s a meeting on Sunday, February 26th at Victrola, in the back room, 5-8pm. Neighbors, merchants, postal-box users and Post Master Ed Zhang will meet to discuss ideas for the relocation.

  12. I think that what people don’t understand here is that this is the beginning of the end. When Rudy’s moved in on the same street as a traditional barber shop (so rare now) it chipped away at the personality of our street. The Everything Store, the Balloon Shop, that crazy gift store, the 2nd hand clothing store, the amazing wine store, the friendly dry cleaners.. all of these make our street unique. As they get pushed out and we get more yuppies, yet more lower income and artistic people get pushed out of our city and we become more and more homogeneous and, frankly, fing boring.

    Character cannot be measured. Just like you love one restaurant more than others because of the ambience, good food and good service, this is the same thing. Our street is being turned from a lovely original small business alcove into an Olive Garden. Is there any way we can stop this development?

    • Their “density” will be a density of white male tech workers only and a business diversity consisting of a dry cleaners, a Subway, and multiple bars per sq mile. All the other layers of workers and residents will be priced out. The developers will make their money and the council and mayor will be obsessed with national politics. Seattle is ceasing to exist as a welcoming and diverse city on a socioeconomic level. It will also be robbed of its actual neighborhoods, African Americans already being gentrified out of the CD for the developers. 15th Ave was the last remaining main street on capitol Hill that was Seattle.

    • Amen.

      How do you create character in a city?
      Diversity.

      Also, can anyone tell me if there is low cost housing upstairs in that building? Are more low income folks being f–d over?

    • “Also, can anyone tell me if there is low cost housing upstairs in that building? Are more low income folks being f–d over?”

      The old owner kept the apartments in that building below market. A friend recently moved out and was paying $800, I think. A lot of Burners live there.

    • I don’t think the new building in itself ruins character, its more the displacement of unique businesses that Maryse brings up. Something you can do to increase the chances that those unique retailers return to the new building after construction is advocate for more, smaller retail spaces. Small retailers can’t afford the rent on a new space the same size they moved out of, but maybe they will squeeze into a slightly smaller space in order to stay in the neighborhood. Don’t give up hope…

    • For a couple years in the late 90s (till at least 1999) the space was a book store (in a post above, Andrew said it was called “Red and Black Books”).
      That book store also had a couple fancy new iMacs (the kind that came in different colors) where you could “surf the world wide web” for a modest fee, if you weren’t one of the fancy people who had home Internet access.
      The view from the shop, looking west down Republican, was very pleasant and in general the location had great natural light and a really cool vibe.
      I remember being sad when that book store closed down. Nothing against the current tenant; just seems like a waste of a terrific corner location with great ambiance, better suited to a coffee shop or restaurant, than on what is the retail equivalent of a kitchen junk drawer.

    • Yeah, that’s incorrect. Red and Black was there until 1999, and then Pages – the bookstore/cafe with the iMacs – was there for a year or so before Shoprite came in about 2001, I think.

  13. You know, this doesn’t have to happen and I’ll tell you how I know. I grew up in Los Angeles and I moved here 26 years ago to raise my son here. In Los Angeles I drive around a lot and I am amazed and stunned really how little it has changed. You can drive for miles along the main streets and there are a few large developments but most of the streets contain the original two- and three-story buildings and there was lots of sky and lots of views and it was almost as if time had stopped. I don’t know how LA did it and where the growth is — I guess it’s in the outlying areas — but the city itself has made the decision to preserve what makes LA special and the result is that it still has a pretty cool quality of life. That’s what Seattle is losing: its quality of life. I wonder if the city managers care or if their kickbacks I’m worth more to them then where their children and grandchildren micro up, or if they all plan to move away because why stay?

  14. @Mars Do you honestly think your neice will be able to afford these buildings? We researched these recently for a friend and the average for studios was $1850. The pods (communal kitchen, tiny room) go for around $1000. They’re essentially an university dorm room.

    • No, my sister won’t be able to afford one of the shiny new apartments, but we need to build lots of them anyway, to stop the people who can afford those apartments from driving up the prices on all the shabby, old ones.

      I’m sure my sister will end up renting a room in a shared house instead, because that’s what everyone does, because that’s all that’s available, because there just aren’t enough apartments.

  15. Jeezy chreezy… stop fucking up my neighborhoods. the city doesn’t need more of these homogenously residential/commercial mixed use buildings in every damn neighborhood. It’s eroding the actual neighborhoods in place and replacing them with cookie-cutter bullshit. The building at the end of the commercial strip where Chutney’s used to be is ghastly enough – oh great, another nail salon! – so I really can’t wait to see what high-end grocer/eye glasses/other nail salon/dry cleaner/wood-fired pizza place moves into the new space.

  16. @ Mars — You don’t really think the apartments in this building will be affordable for your little sister or anyone other than the techy employees that move here temporarily until they can afford something north of Aloha, in Bellevue, Redmond, or Mercer Island when they grow up and have families. Do you?

    @whiteprivilegesucks – who do you think will move in to this building?

  17. What this article failed to mention are the residential units above the shops, one of which, I’ve lived in for the past 3 years. My neighbors have lived there for up to 14 years. We’re all going to be displaced and unable to afford anything even remotely close. This neighborhood has been a safe haven for us and we’re all terribly sad and scared for what’s to come.

    I’m a 4th generation Seattlite and have seen this city change over the course of my life. I get that change is going to happen, it’s just hard to watch as it’s happening.

    • THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I SUSPECTED. It’s not just the character of the place but the real individuals who are being screwed over – both business owners and residents. At what point do we admit we’re becoming an unethical city?

  18. Stop with the racist blather. By that I mean harping on the mythical white tech bro. How would folks feel if a poster on commenting on something, referenced ‘black gang-bangers’ – or any other combination of terms that are meant in a perjorative manner to inaccurately and wrongly characterize a group.

    We can’t and won’t stop people from moving here and things changing. The only way to have a chance of affordable housing is to have more housing units relative to those seeking them. Simple economics it would seem.

    As to 15th, as a 35 year resident of the hill I am all for GOOD design and density on 15th. This means lose the fake windows with posters, and build up where we have one story stores, with housing above and parking below. And the Key Bank building – what a waste of opportunity to date. Common to see 2-3 employees and zero to 2 customers in the out-sized building with a large parking lot. They can have a small branch, other retail and many floors of housing above.

    The Walgreens is most unfortunate. It previously housed the progressive City People’s Hardware, whose owner sold and retired I was told. The Walgreens got their work approved as a remodel by keeping the back wall up but basically gutting the place. We have a suburban store in a city. Fake windows, ugly facade and signage. Compare that to the Walgreens at Broadway and Pike which has housing above and has a much more attractive design. It is newer than the store on 15th by a few years but why was this permitted to happen?

    I have it on good authority that 100 years ago the Capitol Hill blog had article with upset residents seeing horses displaced by newly created automobiles, who were building horrid garages everywhere – the same buildings we was nostalgic about today. Change happens. Manage it and focus on beautiful design rather than trying to stop the inevitable.

    • The Capitol Hill Community Council (CHCC) softened the cookie cutter design of the 15th Ave Walgreen’s as much as they could. There’s NO free-standing rotating LCD sign in the parking lot (base where it would be is visible) and the mural softens the wall a bit.

      That readied the CHCC for the Walgreen’s on Broadway. That was initially proposed as a cookie cutter regular Walgreen’s (with surface parking) but CHCC got them and Capitol Hill Housing together and helped them to agree on the store below/housing above that we all admire. A great neighborhood triumph IMHO.

  19. There’s been a grocery store at that location for well over 50 years. I shop there quite often now, and my mom did in the 1950s and 1960s and probably later on as well. Several quite nice building along 15th have already gone, particularly Tabernacle Baptist Church that used to be on the SE corner of 15th East and East Republican. Where the Shop Rite is used to be a drugstore and just south of that was a dime store. So, QFC’s parking lot has been there forever. And the brick building just south of QFC was a fire station for many years. So–15th north of Kaiser Permanente has already been mutilated in several places; don’t do any more!