Seattle became better furnished this week when Blu Dot, a contemporary furniture retailer and global interior lifestyle brand, opened the doors of its new Capitol Hill location.
“We like the mix of all the different things going on in Capitol Hill,” said Maurice Blanks, COO of Blu Dot and one of the Minneapolis-headquartered company’s founders. “People live in the neighborhood. People shop in the neighborhood. We love the vibe of it.”
The new location resides in the showroom of the restored Colman Automotive building on the corner of Pine and Crawford Place where natural light falls in gracefully through windows that stretch from floor to ceiling and span two sides of the storefront. It used to be inhabited by vintage and original design furniture store Area 51 and one of the neighborhood’s best window shopping blocks. Area 51 exited the Colman in 2016 as the building prepared to move into a “re-tenanting” phase with three to five new tenants and 10,000 square feet of office space.
The seismic overhaul and full rehab of the Colman Automotive building on E Pine at Bellevue that it acquired for $3.85 million in 2012 was another major investment in its portfolio of auto row-era properties for Capitol Hill-based Hunters Capital. Completed in 1910, Hunters said the 20,000-square-foot masonry building was originally designed as a garage housing a variety of auto-related businesses that also included Cox Motor Car Co., Reo Truck, Co., Robert Taylor auto repair and the United Motors Co. Inc. The building is listed on a roster of Pike/Pine properties that cannot be demolished under the neighborhood’s preservation incentive program.
Seattle furniture boutique Inform Interiors has also moved up the Hill to Bellevue and Pine to join Blu Dot. The new Inform takes up 3,100 square feet on the main floor and has more space on the 9,000 square-foot second floor. “We’re ready for a bigger space and we wanted to move to an area that supports retail in a much greater way,” Inform sales manager Hillary Rielly told CHS earlier this year.
In its space, the new Blu Dot showroom has taken on a modern look while remaining loyal to the surrounding architecture. The project has been a long time coming — CHS first reported on plans for the store in April of 2017.
Blu Dot is a small, nimble company with international reach. Its stores tend to be in trendy cities and trendier neighborhoods — two in NYC: NoMad and SoHo, one in SF’s Mission District, a Blu Dot LA in West Hollywood, Chicago’s Lincoln Park, a store in downtown Austin, and an outlet shop in Minneapolis. Blu Dot sells interior furnishings that have been designed in-house at the company’s Minnesota headquarters. Those “evergreen” designs, according to store manager Sarah Ray, have allowed Blu Dot to cultivate and maintain their design credibility.
Ray said that Blu Dot wanted to provide an alternative to the high-end luxury brands with great design but big price tags, and the low-quality furniture with few aesthetic qualities. The company aims to provide an “approachable, modern lifestyle” for local residents.
The grand opening of the new Capitol Hill location will be held on July 19th. Leadership from Minneapolis will be attending the event, including Blanks.
“It’s going to be nice to meet people and see what the neighborhood is like,” he said.
Blu Dot is located at 401 E Pine and is open Monday through Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM, and Sundays 12 to 5 PM. You can learn more at bludot.com.
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