The Landmarks Preservation Board voted Wednesday night to approve one auto row era building on Broadway nominated for landmark status and deny its next door neighbor. Both are properties owned by Seattle Central and are being lined up for affordable housing development by the school.
The board will now consider 1519 Broadway, the former Eldridge Tire Company, for designation in March. The consideration process for 1515 Broadway, today home to burger joint Freddy Jr.’s, ended with the board’s vote.
“(1519 Broadway is) a great example of … both an auto-style building and a Mission-style building ” said board member and CHS history contributor Robert Ketcherside. “… I think it’s a great building and an important part of what was auto row.”
The other property, home to the burger joint today and, long ago, the Stewart Warner service station, didn’t have the qualities it takes to qualify the next part of the designation process.
“I think that this building is an important component of the undesignated auto row district in Capitol Hill, but it’s the poster child for lacking the ability to convey significance,” said board member Jeffrey Murdock.
While the brick framework of the building remains, remodels have changed its street facade. Along with a lack of ties to historically significant events or people, the other board members agreed with Murdock and unanimously voted against the property moving forward.
Board members felt 1519 Broadway, meanwhile, could potentially meet two of the six different designation standards. The first is that it is “associated in a significant way with a significant aspect of the cultural, political, or economic heritage of the community, City, state or nation.” Its association with auto row would fall under the standard.
The second is “it embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or method of construction.” While board members were bummed that 1519 no longer has a tile roof to match its Mission-Revival style, they believe the building might still meet this standard.
While board members Kristen Johnson and Jordan Kiel supported the nomination, they also want to consider the building — today home to Tacos Guaymas and Folicle Hair Design — more deeply in the nomination round.
“There’s really not much building there to evaluate in the first place. It seems curious to me that there’s an open air service station in Seattle,” Kiel said adding that he wondered if the design is a “transplant from L.A.”
The presentation to the board is one step in Seattle Central’s plans to move forward with the development of the two buildings along with another its long-held Broadway properties as a mixed-use project that would bring new affordable housing to the area near the school.
As a part of the Sound Transit deal for “Site D,” which is adjacent to the westside Broadway entrance to Capitol Hill Station, the college needs to create affordable housing near the station. Because Site D is adjacent to SCC’s main campus, the college wants to use it for instructional purposes, and use the auto row buildings for housing, Steven Gillespie, an attorney with Foster Pepper representing the school, said.
In December, the Capitol Hill school released a call for developers to make their bids in “letters of intent” for leasing or buying the land — the Stewart Warner/Atlas Clothing/Eldridge Tire/Broadway Café buildings in the 1500 block of Broadway, and the South Annex/ International Programs building at Pine and Broadway — for redevelopment “commercial purposes and/or housing, including a potential affordable housing element.” The college said this early step in the development process is part of its potential acquisition and development of Sound Transit “Site D” property adjacent the westside Broadway entrance to Capitol Hill Station. Last spring, Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange told CHS that creating faculty housing on Capitol Hill was a major priority.
Seattle’s protections on landmarked buildings are documented here. Redevelopment of a landmarked building can still be approved as can a host of modifications, upgrades, improvements and, yes, demolition. The properties could also eventually utilize the Pike/Pine Conservation District’s preservation incentive program that grants extra height in exchange for preservation of a character building’s streetfront facade and for maintaining the basic dimensions and scale of the original character structure in the development’s ground floor design. Check out the Kelly Springfield office and preservation project on 11th Ave for the most recent example of an incentive-boosted project moving forward.
Eventually, the two properties under consideration Wednesday will likely be part of the same redevelopment project — but only one building will now be under consideration for possible specific protection of its historic features. There is now a good chance you’ll see the facade and shape of the former Eldridge Tire Company be part of whatever seven-story building comes next on Broadway.
“Although the tile on the roof is missing,” said Ellen Mirro, with The Johnson Partnership, when presenting the project on behalf of SCC, “the exterior of the building may have sufficient integrity to convey its association to the history of Seattle,”