$3.2M deal puts Broadway Grill property back in motion

(Image: CHS)

There isn’t a month that goes by that somebody doesn’t ask CHS what is happening with the old Broadway Grill. For six years, the answer has been nothing. That is about to change.

“It definitely will be kicking back into life,” prolific Capitol Hill real estate investor Ron Amundson tells CHS. “Paint, lights, a clean-up. It’s time.”

According to King County records, Amundson purchased the property home to the 1936-built restaurant building for $3.2 million in February.

Comes with salt and pepper (Image: CHS)

It has sat empty and in many ways untouched since the last incarnation of the Grill shuttered in April 2013, ending a 22-year run on Broadway.

A decrepit infrastructure and ungodly $15,000/month price tag kept it empty though a few projects gave the space a thought along the way before moving on.

Even with bad pipes and infrastructure challenges, the interest is understandable. The restaurant’s place in Broadway culture and LGBTQ brunch history is monumental starting with its opening in spring of 1991. “The Broadway Grill—later renamed the Grill on Broadway—was a shamelessly proud anchor for Seattle’s gay culture in the 1990s,” the Stranger wrote about the restaurant. “It had a racy menu of grilled chicken with whipped yams, a glass chandelier that looked like Carmen Miranda’s headgear on steroids, and a plastic clientele that looked like Carmen Miranda’s backup dancers on Social Security.”

In its final years, the Grill also suffered through an infamous bout of credit card hacking with a 2010 wave of fraud tied to a breach involving the restaurant’s point of sales system. In 2017, Roman Seleznev, the son of a Russian lawmaker and a prisoner once reportedly dangled in exchange for Edward Snowden, was sentenced to 27 years in the international scheme that included ripping off customers of the Broadway Grill and the Mad Pizza chain, among other local businesses.

Previous ownership of the property confirmed details of the sale with CHS. Lance Bon, manager of the family partnership that owned the property, took a philosophical approach to explaining why the property had stood empty for so long — and why it was now being sold. “Real estate has a lifespan,” he said. “That property is near the end of its life.”

This week, the Grill space is still filled with leftovers from the old restaurant including a table filled with salt and pepper shakers and paper lanterns still hang from the ceiling. The smudged roll-up doors provide a dingy view of the dark interior. A pile of blankets and trash is left in the doorway from the last time someone broke in to sleep. But Capitol Hill Station is bustling just a few blocks away, and the street is busy with pedestrians. Recent years of empty retail spaces seem to be fading into memory. It’s a “seller’s market.” Even Broadway’s old sex “megastore” space is full with a new, “new Broadway” tenant.

Amundson belongs to a generation of independent, smaller scale real estate investment that is still active on Capitol Hill despite the increasing presence of national investors. Much of Amundson’s holdings are dedicated to “buy and hold” and making space for neighborhood businesses. He also has backed development of some of his properties over the years with some plans playing out over years.

With the Broadway Grill, Amundson said he hopes to get the property in shape for a new tenant. “I’m just going to clean it up,” he says, “and see if there’s a restaurant out there that wants it.”

If that won’t pencil out, Amundson said the large, 5,500+ square foot space could be cleaned out, partitioned, and made available to retail.

And, of course, there are longterm opportunities for the buy and hold-minded Amundson. He also owns the property north of Broadway Grill that is currently home to Teriyaki and Wok and Capitol HIll’s only bikini coffee hut, Ladybug Espresso.

 

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31 thoughts on “$3.2M deal puts Broadway Grill property back in motion

  1. If it’s a restaurant, I hope it’s a place with better service, better food, and drinks that actually have alcohol in them. BW Grill was so lousy I’d stopped going there by the end of the 90s. Surprised it lasted as long as it did.

  2. Fingers crossed for development. That site, along with the Teriyaki place and 4 Zip Car parking stalls, with massing allowed by current zoning, could be built up to provide homes for idk 150+ people, just steps from light rail! And hardly a better place in the city to live an urban car-free lifestyle.

      • She’s great, huh! No reason she couldn’t move back into the new building. Ultimately, we (and America) needs more housing in dense areas. There are single family neighborhoods springing up as far away as Taheleh, Tumwater, Monroe, Squamish, Stanwood all with commuters that must drive to work, often as far as downtown Seattle & Bellevue. Those neighborhoods destroy habitat, clog roads, and significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions for their residents who must always drive anytime they need anything. Alas, it would be great if we could save the Jamies of this world, but it would also be great if we could turn 4 zip car parking spaces and a teriyaki stand into housing for hundreds of people who could otherwise be living hours away from where they work and play.

      • I agree with urban. The two properties are ripe for redevelopment. There is nothing of worth architecturally, and the recently-passed upzone makes the site prime real estate for an apartment with street-level retail.

        It’s great news that the area will at last be activated!

    • Yeah, the previous owners, clearly, are/were greedy slobs. They cared about NOTHING but money. The city should have a code that prohibits owners from allowing their properties to languish in filth and neglect like that, complete with a tax escalation clause for long-term vacancies. Then, this kind of stuff wouldn’t happen at all. Pittsburgh used to have such a scheme, maybe still does? PS- If the city is sh serious about building more housing, they should raise height limits on wildly busy commercial corridors with train service to at least double what they currently are. It’s ridiculous.

  3. Before it was the Broadway Grill it was simply The Broadway and it was the opposite of an LBTQ establishment but rather a swanky place that Seattle’s young-ish old money-ed folk hung out, snorted coke and dined on filets and fancy ice cream sundaes. The bar was the place to be in 80’s Seattle when Broadway boasted Boondock’s, BJ Monkeyshines and Henry’s Off-Broadway – oh the tales!

  4. I had many great times at Broadway Grill in the 90s and 00s but I hope it gets redeveloped. Neither the Broadway Grill building nor the Wok and Teriyaki building are architecturally notable. We need more housing.

  5. The lady who runs the teriyaki place is SO RIDICULOUSLY NICE. I wish the city would create an incentive for developers to keep established small businesses when they redevelop properties. I am a neighbor and would also like to see this property redeveloped but I would be really upset if we lost such a great small business.

      • Well, considering that in just the time I’ve lived here, Broadway has had a Gap, a Jack in the Box, two Burger Kings, and a Taco Bell– it would be sort of like “Back to the Future”, wouldn’t it?

  6. The almost hundred year old property should sadly be torn down. The property next door used to be a gas station and has old rotting tanks that must be unearthed at great expense. The restaurant’s new tenant would have to rip up the entire floor and completely remove and replace the Hvac system. No smart restaurant owner would assume such difficulties at such a high rent. And nobody could match the vision and brilliance of past owner Debbie Augustavo who championed and supported the gay community as she did. There will never be another Broadway Grill.

  7. Redevelop it. Bring in more housing, and perhaps ground floor space for a bank. :O Of course I’m kidding about the bank.

    As far as I’m concerned the previous owners have done a criminal disservice to the community by holding onto the property for 6 years (has it only been that long, it seems like a decade!) with that absurd rent that kept it empty.

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