McDemolition: First Hill fast food franchise set to make way for 700-Big Mac-tall apartment tower

It’s been a long time coming, but the slow path to the development set to replace First Hill’s most well-known fast food restaurant will reach a sad milestone for Big Mac fans in coming weeks.

The City of Seattle has approved the demolition permit for 1122 Madison — the Madison McDonald’s. The plan is for the nearest Capitol Hill-elevation location for the global fast food franchise to be razed in April. “Assuming acquisition of the appropriate permits in a timely manner,” the construction report filed for the address reads, “demolition of the existing structure is expected to begin April, 2017 and continue through April, 2017, at which point shoring wall and excavation will begin.”

In its place will rise a 17-story mixed-use building with 5,200 square feet of commercial space:

The updated scheme included a 17-story residential building with retail at street level and three levels of below grade parking. The retail was primarily oriented towards Madison St. and the primary residential entry and parking access was located on Minor Ave.

The property is being developed by Holland Partners Group and is designed by Ankrom Moisan on land owned by longtime real estate investors the Robison family.

As for McDonald‘s’s’s’s’s imminent demolition and removal from your walking radius, we are reaching out to the franchise owner who has operated the restaurant at the site for decades. David Santillanes owns McDonald’s restaurants around the region including the Madison and the downtown 3rd and Pine location but he’s not an easy man to track down. Phone numbers on his business permits ring accountants and companies that do work for his franchise corporation. In 2015, Santillanes, who also operates franchise locations on the Eastside, talked about “an increase in overtime costs” and higher prices at his restaurants because of Seattle labor laws.

“It’s a delicate balance, but our customers notice,” Santillanes told the Tacoma News Tribune. “For the most part in Seattle, when they understand the reason behind (the price increase), most of them have supported it. Obviously we’ve lost some customers, but most feel they have to do their part too.”

CHS first reported on the First Hill McD’s project way back in December of 2014. A representative for franchisees in the region told CHS at the time that the Madison McDonalds has been open for about at least 17 years — but CHS commenters shared memories of this location going back to the 1970s.

If you’re hoping McDonald’s might return to the corner when the construction is complete, you’ll have a bit of a wait for your next burger.  First tenant occupancy is expected in September 2018, according to the plan filed with the city. Indie joint 206 Burger, meanwhile, will open soon in the former Madison Corner Cafe location.

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8 thoughts on “McDemolition: First Hill fast food franchise set to make way for 700-Big Mac-tall apartment tower

  1. Worth noting that Holland also developed Coppin’s Well, the property across Minor from this. I spoke with the building management back in October when I was apartment-hunting, and asked about this as some drilling/surveying was being done at the McDonald’s site in preparation for this.

    I specifically asked about how they felt it would impact Coppin’s. As this new building is basically the same height, it means no more views of downtown from units at Coppin’s well. That was probably a big deal for people who rented the SW-facing units. At least this McDonald’s project has been known for long enough that any leases on that side of the building have likely gone up for renewal. There’s lots of third party corporate housing units in Coppin’s and none of them are likely to care.

    Apparently the new building will be designed in such a way as to minimize the view impact from the roof of Coppin’s, which is good. I haven’t verified this from plans/renderings yet but will try to.

    Sadly though, the thing Coppin’s Well seems most excited about is the “undesirable characters” (homeless and poor) who visit the McDonald’s. I felt it was in poor taste to be happy about kicking poor people out of the neighborhood, especially to replace with luxury housing. Struck Coppin’s Well off my list for that plus a variety of other reasons.

    Quite happy to see this suburban format mcdonalds disappear forever. Next on the list, the one on 5th Ave N by Seattle Center.

    • There would be very few, if any, poor people living on First Hill (those you see are from elsewhere, with a large contingent there after they get their daily fix at the methadone clinic), so they are hardly being “kicked out.” They are still free to hang out there if they wish.

    • As someone who lived in CW and also had a western facing unit, if I had remained there I planned on just moving across the street to the new building in order to maintain the view (presuming I could afford it).

      And the attitude towards the kaleidoscope of people that the McDonald’s draws probably also stems from the meth clinic a few blocks away. Or the drug usage in the stoops of the walk up apartments. Or the time they found someone shooting up in the lobby, and the bathroom down the hall. Yes, we should just accommodate that with “Oh, well they’re less fortunate, so it’s okay.” And further, there’s no shortage of other establishments for people to panhandle outside of anyways. They’ll be fine.

  2. 1)The MacDonald’s on 5th Ave N by Seattle Center seems a step up from the Madison St. one: table service! Other customers seemed mainly tourists, though there were some young seemingly homeless kids camped out (quietly) in one corner when I visited, for the first time in ~ 30 years. I hope to continue to frequent it.

    2) The Madison Street was going strong when I arrived in 1983, so > 34 years! Customers have varied over the years – I now visit only on weekends so don’t see many hospital personnel. It’s aways been, well, a typical MacDonald’s experience. The (typically) older homeless (or poor) people that hang out in and around it have always been quiet and respectful.

    • That hasn’t been my experience there. Every time I’ve popped in there, I’ve reminded myself why I shouldn’t. It’s not because people are poor or homeless– it’s the behavior of the people there. The nearby methadone clinic doesn’t help. That McDonalds seems to have more than its share of people who won’t or can’t behave themselves in public.

    • I lived in Coppins Well facing the McDonald’s. The police are there more than I can count. And having lived next to it for over 2 years, I never once set foot in there, mainly because of what I saw outside (and also because well, the food isn’t worth it). And I agree – the meth clinic is a likely source of the ‘colorful’ characters that hang out at the McDs.

  3. Cry me a river… it’s bad to replace a fast food chain store with a super dense apartment building in an area that is already zoned for it and already populated by mostly super dense, tall office and apartment buildings, but it’s *progress* to threaten an historic neighborhood of small homes for a mediocre to no increase in density… (ie replacing 4 to 6 family sized homes with 12 small apartments..)