The People’s Republic of Capitol Hill will be host to a new headquarters for Mexico’s diplomats in Seattle. The Seattle Consulate of Mexico is slated to move into the overhauled, restored, and transformed Harvard Exit theater building on E Roy just off Broadway, CHS has learned.
The developer on the project declined to comment and a representative from the consulate said he could not provide additional information on the plans for the new facility at this time. UPDATE 2:30 PM: The consulate has confirmed the planned move but said it will announce more details including timing at a later date.
CHS has confirmed the construction underway in the old theater is part of continued work to strengthen the building’s security as a base for Mexico’s diplomatic efforts in the city.
The busy consulate handles passports and visa issues, registers births, and engages in various efforts to promote and protect the efforts of Mexico and its people in the Pacific Northwest:
El Consulado de México en Seattle es una Representación de México en el Exterior que da servicio a los estados de Washington, Alaska y siete condados de Idaho.
The Consulate of Mexico in Seattle is a Representation of Mexico Abroad that serves the states of Washington, Alaska and seven counties of Idaho.
Around 35 people work at the consulate, according to a representative.
Seattle is home to several consulates including the Canadian and Japanese offices downtown, the Republic of Korea and the British in Belltown, the Consulate of El Salvador in Pioneer Square, the Belgians and the French on the Waterfront, Cambodia on Lake Union, and even Luxembourg in Lower Queen Anne. You’ll find the Dutch on Mercer Island. Russia’s consular general’s residence, meanwhile, can be found in the historic Samuel Hyde House at 3726 E Madison in Madison Park. The country does its consular business out of an office in downtown’s One Union Square.
At a time when anti-immigration has become a defining element of the Trump administration, the consulate flying the Mexican flag from a new pole rising above Broadway and Roy will mark a major change for this area of Capitol Hill.
“The Consulate serves a population of more than 850,000 people of Mexican origin,” according to the consulate’s site, “mainly through its services of documentation, protection and assistance to communities abroad” and “carries out cultural, commercial and image promotion work for Mexico in this area of the United States, seeking to deepen understanding among our communities and authorities, and encourage greater business and investment opportunities between Mexico and the states of Washington and Alaska.”
El Consulado de México en Seattle is currently located on 3rd Ave in Belltown. UPDATE 2/16/2018: The Puget Sound Business Journal’s Marc Stiles has followed up on our report and provided some details on the consulate’s long search for a new home. It’s behind a paywall but here’s a snippet:
In 2011, the then-consular said the office would double in size with a move to an undisclosed, 20,000-square-foot location. Yet the office has remained in the Belltown building where hallways were wide enough for only one person to pass and the copy “room” was a mere cubby. At the time, 22 people worked in the building, helping Mexican nationals from across Washington state with passports and legal issues.
¡Pasa la voz!
El Consulado Sobre Ruedas estará durante frebrero y marzo en Longview, Centralia, Raymond, Mt. Vernon y Spokane. pic.twitter.com/kAU7qkZ4av
— ConsulMex Seattle (@ConsulMexSEA) February 2, 2018
CHS last reported on the project to overhaul the old Harvard Exit in September of 2016 as the theater building was being prepared as office and restaurant space and developer Scott Shapiro of Eagle Rock Ventures was beginning his search for tenants for the project. The plan had been for a restaurant to take over the building’s 1,500 square-foot lobby, while Shapiro envisioned a bar moving into the 2,200 square-foot basement. The rest of the building was set to become “creative offices,” including the two 5,000 square-foot theater spaces and two upper floors of existing offices. Shapiro acquired the property in 2014 for $2.35 million and closed the theater in 2015, eventually bringing an end to its 46-year run.
The decision by the Mexican consulate to come to Capitol Hill comes after efforts around Broadway and Pike/Pine on creating developments with increased “daytime” focus and activities as the neighborhood’s nightlife economy has boomed. CHS reported in 2014 on a shift to build more projects with office space. Meanwhile, proposed zoning changes from the Mandatory Housing Affordability will open up more blocks to “neighborhood commercial” zoning that will allow seven-story buildings with commercial use throughout.
One issue for the new facility may be transportation. While northern Broadway is served by a handful of Metro routes, local businesses have supported City Hall’s decision to ice a plan for extending the First Hill Streetcar and accompanying bikeway.
According to permits filed for the new consulate, the diplomatic facility will take up two stories plus the theater’s mezzanine and basement, will include “open work spaces,” a “lounge area” reconfigured as a “work area,” areas with “glass partitions,” and a conference room, and will create a new main entryway and new internal stairway for the structure. The project also includes a new “flag pole and signage” — something that will need special approval in the neighborhood’s Harvard-Belmont Historic District which also requires that the 1925-built masonry exterior remains intact.
The architect on the project is Capitol Hill-based S+H Works.
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