UMadBro? 119-year-old Capitol Hill garage snubbed for preservation falls onto parked cars during demolition

Capitol Hill’s auto row history is coming down faster than expected.

A 1900-era building left out of the wave of Pike/Pine preservation-boosted development projects surprised a demolition crew and some drivers who are probably now regretful about their parking choices when the old auto row-era garage prematurely collapsed Monday. The Capitol Hill Historical Society wrote about the old UMadBro structure — Union, Madison, and Broadway — here last month to mark the building’s final days.

With demolition underway, the old single-story Complete Automotive Detail garage fell onto a handful of parked cars and across the sidewalk off E Union at 10th Ave around noon.

What’s coming next

There were no reported injuries and the damage to vehicles appeared to be relatively minor but the incident raises a few questions about why the area wasn’t more cordoned off for the demolition procedure.

The permit for the demolition work was issued in April but the contractor executing the work is not listed on the paperwork. The permit was issued to the property’s developer American Classic Homes and the Grouparchitect firm. CHS was referred to a spokesperson for questions on the incident and we will update if we hear back.

A company registered to American Classic Homes paid $1.8 million for the property in 2016 and purchased rights to build a taller building from the owners of the Melrose Market in a “transfer of development” rights transaction.

Unlike Melrose and many other Pike/Pine projects, there was never much chance the facade of the old garage would be part of what is coming next. Destined for a seven-story, mixed-use apartment building designed to “echo” Pike/Pine’s auto row era across from Optimism Brewing, the project was never planned to incorporate any of the old auto row garage. The city determined that the old garage did not qualify as a “character structure” and could be demolished without special permission.

UPDATE 2:58 PMJohn Shaw, properties director for American Classic Homes project developer SeaLevel Properties, released this statement on the incident at the Union Street Apartments site:

At the start of the construction on the Union Street Apartments project this morning, our demolition crew tasked with removing the site’s existing structure encountered an unexpected occurrence in which a small portion of the building fell outward (instead of inward as planned) and landed on cars parked in front of the site. We are grateful that no one was injured as a result.

“While the sidewalk was closed to pedestrians during demolition and we had also had crew on-site to monitor the street during demolition, we take this incident seriously and have halted work to determine the cause before moving forward on the project,” he writes.


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